Friday, November 14, 2014

Bangsamoro areas need P225.7 B for dev’t – Deles

From the Website of MILF

Bangsamoro areas need P225.7 B for dev’t – Deles

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The proposed Bangsamoro region would need P225.7 billion until 2016 for its socio-economic development even before it transitions to a new government, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos-Deles said here yesterday.
Speaking at the Philippine Development Forum on the Bangsamoro, Deles said the country’s development partners would be invited to provide at least P109 billion of the needed funds.

President Aquino also gave assurance that the government would pour a substantial amount of its resources for the development of the Bangsamoro entity.

The President has ordered that the development money be readied for release in what is called an “affirmative action,” Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II told reporters here.

Roxas said these funds would be used to provide potable water, healthcare facilities, irrigation and establishment or improvement of ports, airports and other infrastructure projects.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said developing the Bangsamoro areas is seen to boost the country’s economic growth.

“Securing peace here would not only be good for Bangsamoro but the effects will be seen throughout the economy… some estimates would show… 0.1 to 0.3 percentage point (to the gross domestic product) according to one study,” Balisacan said.

He said the investments and the jobs that will be created would be substantial to the country’ s growth. “It can be a game changer for us,” he said.

“The plan is a work in progress. What we would want to know are the development requirements all the way to 2016 because the Bangsamoro government will not come in until 2016,” Balisacan said.

“The national government has been investing in Mindanao but we would want to see how it can be more directed, more focused, and we would want to see how it can be more augmented, what resources are available, how the development partners can also come in,” he added.

On track

The President said the Bangsamoro Development Plan was on track, even as he trumpeted the “sea change” in terms of business interest in the south.

He said government has been active in expanding the “menu of opportunities” for residents of conflict-ridden areas under the Sajahatra Bangsamoro Program.

Under the SJP, the government would improve the living condition of Bangsamoro communities by offering cash for work, technical vocational training, study grants and health insurance premiums, among other programs.

“The goal: to give them the necessary skills and services to take advantage of opportunities that arise, and to allow them to win back control of their destinies. We are confident that the Bangsamoro Development Plan can be harmonized through these efforts, and build on the progress we have made at the soonest possible time,” Aquino said.

He said development boost for Mindanao includes investments in infrastructure to make the region a competitive destination for investors.

He said the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) had spent nearly P100 billion for roads, bridges and other infrastructure projects in Mindanao.

“Next year, the government – Congress willing – intends on investing even more. The DPWH budget for Mindanao will be at P63.13 billion,” he said.

The President said the region might even have power security ahead of Luzon as several major power plants, including the 300-megawatt coal-fired Therma South Energy power plant in Davao del Sur and the 200-MW Southern Mindanao coal-fired power plant in Sarangani, would be online by 2015.
“These two plants, among others, put us on track to have an energy surplus in Mindanao by 2015,” he said.

The gross domestic product of the ARMM has also been on the upswing, Aquino said, from 0.3 percent in 2011 to 1.2 percent in 2012 and 3.6 percent in 2013.

“I am told that the goal of five percent for this year is quite or very attainable,” the President said.

“We have heard of plans to expand and diversify from several companies from vastly different industries – from energy, to coconut products, to palm oil and various other consumer products,” he added.

Within reach

The President said lasting peace in Mindanao is within reach.

“Mindanao is becoming an increasingly stable environment, we can see that the region is on the cusp of a profound transformation: from being a land of promise to being a land of promises fulfilled,” he said.

“More than at any other point in history, the Mindanao we all aspire for is within reach. The progress is palpable, and it is apparent that our efforts are having a profound effect. Nevertheless, I believe that, in forums like this, we are given an opportunity to contribute our individual voices, with the goal of accelerating the positive change in the region, and we must take full advantage of such opportunities,” he said.

He said a lot more could be done “if we continue thinking of new, better ways to accelerate development in the region, if we continue to work with perseverance and creativity… and if we always remember that the end goal of our efforts is to uplift our fellowmen and allow them to live full, dignified lives.”

Dividends of peace

Meanwhile, Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Filipinos, especially Mindanaoans, should enjoy the “dividends of peace” with the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).

“It is expected that the peace process in Mindanao will serve as a valuable precedent for various peace-building efforts in the world,” Abe said in a message read by an official of the Japanese embassy during the forum. – With Aurea Calica, Delon Porcalla, Edith Regalado