In an economists’ forum many years back, one participant asked about the ability of Mindanao to assimilate the growth planned for the island. The discussions delved into the thesis of “are the projects and programs for Mindanao those really what Mindanawons want?”
The missing link that led to the quandary is “inter-agency coordination.” Coordination is important to bring a 360 degree perspective on a particular issue. It harnesses accountability and responsibility among concerned agencies.
Very recently, President Duterte issued Administrative Order No. 18 s. 2019 which aims to accelerate rural progress through robust development of special economic zones in the countryside.
This is a welcome development. This means that various agencies of the government will direct their resources for the development of rural areas. Immediately, my understanding is to make development a natural feature in the countryside. Simply, convert the symbol of “probinsya” from a slow-phased life where opportunity is a stranger and poverty as a mainstay.
With the AO 10, we can expect investments to funnel to the countryside. This will bring reverse to the slow growth and atmosphere of lack of opportunities in the rural setup. We would expect a dynamic change in the figures of poverty incidence and a reduction in the underemployment rate.
To complement the rural productivity efforts, roads and bridges will be strategically constructed as well to boost features of interconnectivity. As government agencies learn to work together, the conduct of business will be much faster. The RA 11032 or the Ease of Doing Business which was signed into law by President Duterte last year demands faster delivery of services; seems like the President made sure the public institutions’ readiness for the expected deluge of queries and requests of public service as development program is not tilted in favor of the countryside.
Atty. Nathaniel Dalumpines as the Chairman of Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) convened the members of the Technical Working Group Mindanao Development Corridors – Joint Planning and Programming (MinDC-JPP) for a session on agro-economic zones early this month. The Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA), Regional Economic Zone Authority (REZA) & Regional Planning and Development Office (RPDO) of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), and NEDA Regions IX & XIII were present.
The best outcome of the session was the agreement that collaboration and joint efforts will bring better and impressive results in advancing agricultural and industrial economic zones.
In the coming months, Mindanao will expect investments to pour in the economic zones in Agusan del Sur, Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, and Zamboanga Sibugay. There are also business cases prepared for Sulu, Zamboanga del Norte (Triple-SB), Misamis Occidental, Bukidnon, Lanao del Norte, Davao del Norte, Surigao del Sur, Sultan Kudarat, North Cotabato, and Agusan del Norte.
The creation of the strategic agricultural and industry hubs is the necessary steps to create a healthy atmosphere for investment. With these economic hubs transplanted from the urban to the rural regions, jobs are created near the homes of the workers dispensing the need to migrate.
As rural areas catch up with growth, its own process of growth will have a positive ripple effect in the neighboring provinces. So the way ahead will be a collective and highly integrated Mindanao growth.
**Opinions and views expressed in this article are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect his organization