DAVAO CITY – Despite the unfortunate events that critics said will directly affect the growth of Mindanao, the island region will be able to arise from its challenges, its socioeconomic planning agency said.
“Mindanao always has what it takes to emerge from challenges,” Secretary Luwalhati Antonino, chair of the Mindanao Development Authority, said in a statement sent to the media here on Monday, February 8.
Perceptions of uncertainties were featured in an editorial of a major national broadsheet recently that talked of “series of unfortunate events” that may bring impacts to Mindanao.
“There is no island-region in the Philippines more intensely challenged then and now than Mindanao, but its resiliency always allows it to make headways at every turn,” Antonino pointed out.
BBL, outages, El Niño
Among the “unfortunate events mentioned were the non-passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), the problems of the rotating brownouts caused by transmission-related problems and the low hydropower output due to El Niño.
“We recognize these challenges as affecting our dogged efforts to accelerate Mindanao’s overall socioeconomic growth, but are in no way keeping us out of focus,” Antonino stressed.
Despite the recent impasse on the BBL, the MinDA chair said there is still a demonstration of commitment from various stakeholders to pursue lasting peace in Mindanao.
“What is important is we find means to interface and coordinate on development initiatives, including private sector investments so as not to derail delivery of benefits especially to conflict-affected communities,” she said.
ARMM investment rose in 2013-2014
The agency also reported that the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) posted a sustained investment growth in the last three years of the Aquino administration, figuring at P1.4 billion in 2013 and doubled to P3.86 billion in 2014.
This was confirmed by ARMM Regional Board of Investment chair Atty. Ishak Mastura who said that business ventures in the region are in the upswing since last year.
“ARMM investments are on the upswing, jumping 60 percent growth last year at P6.5 billion pesos inflows from big-ticket investments,” Ishak said in the same statement.
Task force to address Mindanao grid
Antonino also dispelled the insecurities on the power situation in Mindanao as she reported of the formation of a task force by President Benigno S. Aquino III tasked to address long term security of transmission assets in Mindanao.
The Task Force, she added, will also complement the ongoing government and private sector efforts to improve the power supply situation in the Island region.
“Addressing the Mindanao power situation through long-term measures is a demonstration of President Noy Aquino’s commitment, such as allocating nearly P4 billion for Agus-Pulangi rehab. No administration has ever invested this much to make Mindanao’s cheapest source of renewable energy reliable again,” Antonino said.
She added that with the expected completion of initial phases of several base load power plants this year having combined capacity of over 600MW, the Department of Energy (DOE) expects Mindanao to enter into a regime of supply excess for the first time since 2009.
Diversified economy to dilute El Niño
The effect of the El Niño phenomenon on the agriculture sector in Mindanao is also expected this year, but Antonino asserted that the island’s diversified economic make-up still keeps the region moving along growth path.
“In 2015, six Mindanao provinces made it to the top 10 of the 2015 Cities and Municipalities Competitive Index of the National Competitiveness Council (NCC), reflecting economic dynamism, government efficiency, and infrastructure growth.”
She further stressed that under the Mindanao Development Corridors Program being coordinated by MinDA, Mindanao has able to get between 25-30% of national public works budget over the last three years, reflecting a steady hike in Aquino government’s infra spending for the region.
“Mindanao’s competitiveness is also seen playing a critical role in its contribution to the national growth. The island’s Gross Regional Domestic Product (GRDP) has many times outperformed national average,” she said.
Mindanao’s economy grew by 7.4% last year, from 6.3% recorded in 2014, and contributed 14.4% to country’s overall growth.
“Mindanao’s real progress is hinged on the unity of all its peoples, amid diversity,” Antonino stressed. (davaotoday.com)