Press Release
May 12, 2009

To accelerate the socio-economic growth and development of Mindanao

Senator Edgardo J. Angara today filed a bill which seeks to spur socio-economic growth and development in Mindanao by creating the Mindanao Economic Development Authority which will manage the region's integrated development process.

"In the past decades, development planning and development interventions in Mindanao were implemented in a fragmented manner. During that time, disintegrated and highly uneven development enveloped Mindanao as each region competed for scarce resources coming from Manila instead of complementing each other's economic strengths. Mindanao was also seen in the past as a mere supplier of food and raw materials to the factories and bourgeoning cities of Manila and Cebu," said Angara who chairs the Senate Committee on Finance.

He added, "There was no integrated development plan for the entire island. What was prevailing then were regional plans which promoted the economic development of each of the regions comprising Mindanao but not in their totality as an island economy. There was no mechanism that consolidates and integrates peace and development efforts in the island region.

According to 2006 statistics - released in 2008 - from the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB), Mindanao is still the poorest of the three island groups in the country. It registered the highest poverty and subsistence incidence among the country's major island groups.

Mindanao's poverty incidence reached 38.8 percent compared to lower poverty incidence rates in Luzon (20 percent) and the Visayas (33 percent).

Angara, however, cited a glimmer of hope for Mindanao's progress. He said that with the formation of the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) Mindanao emerged as the front door of investments and trade to the East EAGA Region.

He recently filed SB 3225 which seeks to address Mindanao's need for a permanent institution that will ensure that the Mindanao's Agenda is within the prism of national government priorities.

Once enacted, the bill will create the Mindanao Economic Development Authority (MEDA) which shall promote, coordinate, and facilitate the active and extensive participation of all sectors to effect the socio-economic development of Mindanao.

MEDA will act as an implementing agency for Mindanao-specific interregional and Mindanao-wide programs and projects.

He cited that the integration of Mindanao, which was built when Mindanao Economic Development Council (MEDCo) was created, has proven that an integrated, holistic, and Mindanao-wide approach to developing Mindanao is far more effective than the usual national-led and region-centric approach, which was what Mindanao had in the 70s and 80s, and which only accentuated Mindanao's fragmentation.

"What Mindanao needs is a Mindanao-wide agency that sees through implementation of this transformation process, one that looks beyond the regions and integrates all development efforts at a Mindanao-wide level," said Angara.

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