Press Release
May 23, 2009

To intensify human development in the southern regions

Senator Edgardo J. Angara today seeks to improve many areas of human development in the Southern regions of the country thru a bill formulating the Mindanao Economic Development Authority (MEDA). In a reaction to 2008-2009 report of the Human Development Network on institutions, politics and human development in the Philippines, Angara accentuated the importance of putting up an institution that will ensure that Mindanao's concerns are incorporated in the national development plans.

"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," said Angara who chairs the Senate Committee on Finance.

In 1992, the Mindanao Economic Development Council or MEDCo was established through the Executive Order No. 512. Aimed at promoting and reinforcing Mindanao's development through holistic and integrated approach, it proved to be an operative and efficient scheme in the Mindanao-wide development efforts.

Furthermore, this policy will "accelerate the socio-economic growth and development of Mindanao, by encouraging and increasing trade, tourism investments, encouraging private enterprise, and advancing efforts towards peace and development," Angara added.

Angara recently filed the MEDA bill in response to the recently launched 2008/2009 Philippine Human Development Report (PHDR) wherein five conflict-ridden provinces in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) ranked lowest in terms of human development.

Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Maguindanao, Basilan, and Lanao del Sur lagged behind Luzon and Visayas provinces in terms of Human Development Index (HDI), which measured provinces' development in terms of life expectancy, literacy, and income, among others.

SB 3225 once enacted is intended in conceptualizing different strategies in order to consolidate and integrate peace and development plans for the island region through the creation of Mindanao Economic Development Authority (MEDA).

Also included in the bill is the continuous active participation of Mindanao and Palawan in the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-the Philippines- East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) in order to maintain the steadfast formulation and implementation of various Mindanao-wide, Mindanao-specific interregional development programs and missions.

"What we need to introduce in Mindanao is a total-development effort, in which we will endeavor to improve human development in southern provinces of the country. And this, I believe, can be done through MEDA's establishment," added Angara.

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