Press Release
September 16, 2009

Emphasizing the need for a holistic development

Senator Edgardo J. Angara reaffirms his support for further development in Mindanao with a move to create an economic development authority to tap the entire region's vast human and natural resources collectively as one whole region and not merely by district or zones.

The "Mindanao Economic Development Act (MEDA) of 2009" aims at harnessing the potentials of Mindanao, the country's second largest mainland space, for industrial development and make it a hub for economic and trade activities with the east Asian neighbors.

"Previous moves for development planning and implementation in Mindanao were fragmented, disintegrated and hence unevenly developed the region, as each region competed for scarce resources from Manila, instead of complementing each other's economic strengths. What prevailed were individual, separate development plans for each region but not the totality of Mindanao. There was also no clear mechanism to consolidate peace and development efforts in the region," says Sen. Angara, Chair of the Senate Committee on Finance.

From the 2006 figures that the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) released in 2008, 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 laments, "Mindanao has long endured a reputation of merely being supplier of food and raw materials to factories in Cebu and Manila. In addition, the way the local and international media are feeding exaggeratedly on stories of war and terrorism in Mindanao worsen the image of the region and harms the potentials for local and foreign investment."

As a response, Sen. Angara proposed the MEDA with mainly the overall improvement of socio-economic condition of Mindanao in mind. Covering Regions 9, 10, 11, 12, CARAGA and the ARMM and with the active participation of Palawan, the MEDA will plan, promote, coordinate, facilitate and implement Mindanao-specific programs of socio-economic development across all sectors in the region.

The MEDA will initiate an integrated strategic development framework consistent with the initiatives of the national government; prioritize Mindanao-wide areas of improvement; facilitate the inflow of and financing from investments in any field, as well as aid from external donors; and oversee the management of such programs, including infrastructure development.

To ensure a well-represented functional agency, the MEDA Advisory Board will be comprised of the chairs of development councils from all regions, the government's committees concerned with Mindanao, the private and civic sectors and representatives of the local government units. The MEDA will also assume the mandate and functions of and absorb the existing staff of the Mindanao Economic Development Council (MEDCO).

The inception of the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) and MEDCO however made Mindanao a strategic front-door hub in the eastern ASEAN for trade and investment; and paved the way for further discussions for a holistic approach to a Mindanao-wide development transcending regional and provincial borders.

"The previous individualist approach of regions only accentuated fragmentation for Mindanao, hindering a collective, cooperative and complementary thrust for regional progress. The MEDA will now institutionalize a Mindanao-wide agency to implement a transformation process that will secure the entire region a place in the priorities of the national government. This will also open more opportunities for people from Mindanao and for local businesses to grow," asserts an optimistic Senator Angara, with high hopes for a significant shift in the way Mindanao is perceived by many in the world and to bring more development to the region.

News Latest News Feed