Press Release
May 3, 2010

Villar: Economic turnaround in Mindanao will end conflict

Nacionalista Party standard-bearer Manny Villar has maintained that strengthening opportunities in entrepreneurship in Mindanao would be high on his agenda if he wins the presidency on May 10.

Villar said harnessing entrepreneurship in Mindanao would result in economic turnaround in the region, and pave the way in ending poverty and decades of conflict on the island.

"Sa akin napakahalaga na itaas natin [ang] kinikita nila (people of Mindanao). Kinakailangan, una i-develop mo ang entrepreneurial skills nila. Marami sa kanila gustong maging entrepreneur, magsarili," Villar said during a recent television interview.

(To me it's so important to increase their productivity. We need to develop their entrepreneurial skills. Many of them are longing to be entrepreneurs, to be their own boss.)

Aside from raising productivity in Mindanao, Villar said the national government must ensure that its programs and services should reach the poor people of Mindanao.

"Pangalawa yung level ng edukasyon at kalusugan, talagang napakababa. Siguro diretso na national government doon para i-bypass na yung local government para siguradong makarating sa kanila...," he said.

Villar's strategies to harness the entrepreneurship spirit in the region include the education of the youth in secondary and tertiary schools on the values and technical intricacies of putting up small business ventures and the expansion of microfinance in areas lacking in rural development programs and projects.

The leader of the country's oldest and biggest opposition party has underscored in various fora that the national government should have a strong presence in Mindanao if it seeks to address poverty and the peace and order situation on the tumultuous island.

In one of his speeches early this year, Villar focused on the human development index in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, which is 0.5 - the lowest in the Philippines. He deplored that poverty level in the region is the highest.

"Clearly, the government must address this problem...The government must ensure that the human development index is increased significantly. Schools must be built, hospitals must be built, doctors must be provided," he told executives at the Asian Institute of Management during a presidential forum.

"If the government has to bypass the local officials, then so be it. But it must ensure that these infrastructures are built," Villar stressed.

Accompanying these actions, he explained, is the strengthening of the military and law enforcement in the region.

"We have to strengthen the AFP to ensure that there is rule of law. And these must be done simultaneously. That is why the next president should be able to multitask. He must be a multitasker because you cannot do these one at a time. You must do these simultaneously," Villar said.

He also said that the peace process in Mindanao should continue and all stakeholders on the island must take part, not just by government representatives from Manila.

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