Mindanao gets 30% increase in National Budget
House Speaker Jose de Venecia on Monday revealed a 30-percent lump sum provision for Mindanao in the 2008 General Appropriations Act that would go into the building of projects and programs expected to trigger an island-wide development.
“Mindanao is not the backdoor of the Republic but the front door to the tiger economies of Southeast Asia,” de Venecia told the first-ever meeting of the Regional Development Council of Region 10 at the House of Representatives composed of governors, congressmen and regional directors of Northern Mindanao.
De Venecia and Appropriations Committee Chairman Edcel Lagman said that Mindanao used to get a measly 10- to 11-percent share through allocations for line departments and front-line agencies.
The significant increase to 30 percent, it was observed at the meeting, would help to reverse decades of uneven development that spawned lingering social and economic problems and two major insurgencies.
Rep. Rufus Rodriguez said roughly the lump sum would translate into some P180 billion to help finance some of Mindanaoâ€™s long-awaited projects and programs to fight poverty and hasten development.
De Venecia said congressmen, governors and regional directors have to start identifying some 30 to 50 major projects for the region and “introduce specific projects under this provision.”
The RDC discussed the Medium-Term Regional Development Plan of Northern Mindanao, including the major programs and projects it intends to push in the remaining years of the Administration.
De Venecia asked regional directors to prepare necessary documents identifying these projects under public works, agriculture education, health, social welfare, environment, and others because “these projects should now go to Mindanao.”
The Speaker said the RDC should draw up and classify these projects and programs under several different categories.
These projects could be undertaken as BOT (Build-Operate-Transfer) projects, mixed financing with BOT and government loans, missionary projects with no repayment capacity and with 100-percent government guarantee, projects financed by appropriations from the GAA, and projects financed by the pork barrel
De Venecia and Lagman were made “adopted sons” of Northern Mindanao in a resolution that acknowledged the major role of the two leaders in pushing for the economic development of the region and the entire island.
“The Speaker gave us a trailblazing vision for Mindanao and he has set the direction for economic development,” Rodriguez of the Minority bloc said.
“Speaker de Venecia has shown commitment to the rapid and total development of Northern Mindanao. That is why we voted unanimously to make him and Rep. Lagman adopted sons of the region,” said Rep. Abdullah Dimaporo of Lanao del Norte’s Second District.
Dimaporo and Rep. Pedro Romualdo said they will amend the resolution to make it Mindanao-wide since the Speaker’s vision covered not just Region 10 but the entire Mindanao as well.
De Venecia thanked the Region 10 officials for the support and enthusiasm they have shown for his proposals that includes the construction of a major railway line from Cagayan de Oro to Iligan City.
De Venecia told the region’s top officials that he has proposed the construction of Mindanao’s first major railway, which he hoped will further open access to Mindanao and its hinterland regions and bring development to millions of its people.
“We’ve been risking criticism to work for the building of the railways. Now is the time to translate 100 years of rhetoric into a workable program of development,” the Speaker said, urging congressmen and governors to be involved in regional and local development.
Aside from Romualdo and Rodriguez, members of the ruling coalition and those in the opposition attended the first-ever meeting of RDC-10 at the House.
Among those who attended the meeting were Reps. Candido Pancrudo Jr.; Jose Ma. Zubiri III, Pedro Romualdo, Vicente Belmonte Jr., Marina Clarete, and Rolando Uy, Gov. Khalid Dimaporo, Director Myra Balandra (ex-officio vice chair of RDC-10) and regional directors and private-sector representatives.
Source: House of Representatives