DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/19 January) – The government targets to bring down the poverty level in Mindanao from 35% at present to 22% at the end of the Duterte administration in 2022, Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) Assistant Secretary Romeo Montenegro said.
Montenegro said there had been noted improvements in the poverty levels across different areas of Mindanao under the Duterte administration.
He attributed this to the implementation of more government infrastructure projects and increased investments entering the island.
Mindanao comprises six regions – Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Caraga, Davao, Northern Mindanao, Soccsksargen, and Zamboanga Peninsula.
Investment inflow in Mindanao has grown ten-fold from 2010-2019 at P50 billion to a P60 billion annual average, compared to P5 billion to P6 billion annual average inflow from 2001 to 2010, according to Montenegro.
“Our infrastructure, in the last half of Duterte administration, there has been a significant improvement in the poverty situation and making us comfortable in terms of working hard towards reaching our target of reducing and bringing down poverty incidence in Mindanao from its current level,” he said.
But he admitted that much needs to be done in improving the logistics network but added Mindanao had already seen “encouraging improvements” as the government poured more funds to develop road connectivity and expand thoroughfares.
Montenegro attributed much of Mindanao’s growth to the rapid expansion of the services sector, particularly malls, hotels, property development, real estate projects and manufacturing.
He believed the exponential growth of manufacturing was due to the improved power situation and better logistics network, boosting the island’s agricultural productivity.
He said they are expecting the agricultural sector to register positive growth for 2019 largely because of the improved connectivity.
“With the improvement of major road connectivity in various areas of Mindanao, particularly in areas deemed to be the production sites for some of the commodities, it is quite interesting to note also that Mindanao’s agri-performance is expected to move upwards,” he said.
He said MinDA chair Emmanuel Piñol wants to focus on developing the poorest provinces in Mindanao, particularly that of BARMM, out of poverty through the agency’s initiative on “peace, prosperity, and poverty” alleviation.
“His target is to work towards making improvement in these bottom provinces because if we see improvement in terms of quality of lives by facilitating investments and attracting investments especially in agri-related projects and complementing this with necessary infrastructure then the agricultural-driven transformation in the rural communities in Mindanao, especially in these poorest provinces can be a major breakthrough for the island,” he said. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)