MINDANAO, the southern Philippine islands, is getting about P1.2 trillion in public investments over the next five years, accounting for about a third of the governments planned medium-term outlay alongside 25% of priority infrastructure projects nationwide, according to the administrations economic managers.  

The Department of Finance stands ready to support the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) by strengthening its relationship with bilateral and multilateral development partners,Finance Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno said during last weeks 2nd Mindanao Development Forum. 

Mr. Diokno said 1,310 of the Marcos administrations 3,770 priority infrastructure programs and projects are located in Mindanao.   

The idea is to link and integrate markets, connect urban centers to rural areas, and facilitate the movement of people and goods to expand access to more opportunities for local industries. Ultimately, this will boost productivity,he said.  

National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan said in the same forum that 51 of 194 infrastructure flagship projects (IFPs) are in Mindanao, which are seen as key to attracting more investments in the south.  

We aim to map out value chains across sectors and foster regional industrialization. This approach includes supporting regional and urban centers specializing in industries where they are most competitive,he said.   

Recognizing the value of regional industries as producers for the local market will help address regional growth and development disparities in our country.”    

Mr. Balisacan said the NEDA Board has also approved the Mindanao Inclusive Agriculture Development Project, valued at PhP 6.6 billion, as part of the goals on food security. 

This project aims to enhance agricultural productivity, resilience, and market access for organized farmers and fisherfolk across selected ancestral domains in all regions of Mindanao,he said.  

He noted that Mindanaos six regions Zamboanga Peninsula, Northern Mindanao, Davao, Soccsksargen, Caraga, and the Bangsamoro account for 38% of the country’s gross value added in agriculture, forestry, and fishing. 

Key commodities like bananas and pineapples constitute a sizeable portion of our agricultural exports, with Mindanao being a major producer of such commodities,the NEDA chief said.  

Secretary Mabel Sunga-Acosta, chair of MinDA, said the Mindanao Development Forum (MDF), only the second in 10 years, is intended to align and coordinate development programs between and among the national and local governments.    

The MDF shall provide a venue for government to discuss its development priorities and to lay down areas where development partnerships can be most useful, leading to increased efficiency in development interventions and contributing to the sustainable and inclusive development of Mindanao,she said.  

Mr. Balisacan also said that the 2023-2028 national development plan recognizes the pivotal role of ensuring the success of the transition in the Bangsamoro, a historically restive region where development initiatives have been underway as a result of peace agreements.   

These strategies, in partnership with our local and international development partners, are crucial for sustaining the gains of the peace process, especially in achieving social and economic development in conflict-affected communities,he said.  

At the regional level, a bill was filed last week in the autonomous regions transition Parliament to establish a 10-year roadmap for the full digitalization of all government frontline services. 

With the allocation of P74.4 billion for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region for 2023, President (Ferdinand R.) Marcos, Jr. encouraged the Parliament to pass measures that will secure the welfare of the Bangsamoro, particularly the development of digital infrastructure and e-governance,Mr. Mawallil said. 

The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) government has also been rolling out infrastructure projects ranging from village halls to major port upgrades in line with improving the delivery of basic social services and boosting economic activities.   

Among the most recent proposed projects is the reopening of an airport in Malabang, Lanao del Sur, which was initially used as a private airstrip for a cassava plantation and later for Philippine Airlines flights covering the Cotabato-Malabang-Iligan-Cagayan de Oro route.  

Mohammad O. Pasigan, chairman of the BARMM Regional Board of Investments, said on Saturday that the revival of the Matling Airport for commercial flights will improve the business climate in the Lanao del Sur as well as the neighboring provinces of Lanao del Norte and Maguindanao del Norte. 

MinDAs Ms. Acosta said the perception Mindanao as a land of strifeand doubts,largely arising from the Bangsamoro conflict, has been one of the main obstacles in attracting investments.      

We should portray Mindanao now not as a land of strife, not as a land of doubts, but a land of plenty,she said at the forum. Today we start having simultaneous conversations and aligning our shared agenda for Mindanao.Maya M. Padillo and John M. Unson