Press Release
March 2, 2010

Villar focuses on three major problems of Mindanao

SURIGAO CITY (March 2)--Nacionalista Party (NP) standard bearer Manny Villar has vowed to focus on the three major problems confronting Mindanao, especially in the CARAGA Region which is among the poorest areas of the Philippines.

Arriving here from Butuan City later than scheduled because of bad weather, Villar said the region, specifically Surigao del Norte, needs national government attention to address the problems and living conditions of the poor of the province.

Villar identified the three major problems of the region as: the power crisis, peace and order, and poverty.

"Those are the three immediate problems that must be addressed by the national government," he told a press conference at the Surigao City Airport, accompanied by his running mate Loren Legarda, Surigao del Norte Gov. Robert Ace Barbers, and Surigao City Mayor Alfonso Casurra.

Villar said poverty, the major focus of his advocacy, is considered to be worst in the CARAGA region, which also suffers from inadequate infrastructure, agriculture, education and tourism.

If elected president, his administration is committed to do what is necessary to enable the region to catch up with the national human development index, Villar told reporters.

He said Region 13 has much potential to enable the region to at least reach the level of the national average.

"But of course, it will need the total support of the national government," he said.

Villar added, "Hindi natin alam kung hanggang kailan tatagal ang El Niño so we have to tap all sources, including hydro electric. We have to first assess how big the problem is because there might still be other ways."

In developing Mindanao, the NP presidential candidate said the government must be prepared for higher demand for power.

"This is capacity versus demand, meaning, if consumption will increase, the lack of power will be magnified," he said.

Villar also reiterated his opposition to proposals to give President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo emergency powers to address the energy crisis in Mindanao.

Villar said the President already has enough powers under the EPIRA law to solve the problem, a stand supported by Legarda who explained that what is needed is efficient management and full implementation of other laws related to energy.

Legarda cited the Renewable Energy Act that has yet to be fully implemented by the government which he said should not "interfere" in the power industry.

"What is clear is (the) power (industry) is best left to the private sector," she added.

Legarda also said the government has not invested in a single power plant in Mindanao in the past 10 years, leaving the island to get power from the antiquated Agus Plant at Maria Cristina in Lanao del Norte.

Surigao del Norte, she said, has a rich power source in Mainit Lake which is environment-friendly which an administration under Villar can tap and explore.

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