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New Mindanao Development Law Signed

By Antonio Figueroa     Feb 20, 2010 in Politics
MANILA – A bill that would hasten the socio-economic development in Southern Philippines was signed into law last Wednesday by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo after weeks of political speculation that the legislative initiative would be vetoed.
Known as the Mindanao Development Authority Act of 2010, the statute creates the Mindanao Development Authority (MDA), first conceived in 1960 but was only ratified in 1991.
Then President Corazon Aquino, however, vetoed the bill in 1992 and in its place created the Mindanao Economic Development Council (MEDCo), an ad hoc coordinating agency, under Executive Order 512.
It would take six more congresses before the newly approved edict would pass legislative bottleneck.
The House version of the new law was principally authored by Mindanao lawmakers Rep. Simeon Datumanong, a former justice and public works secretary, Rep. Datu Pax Mangudadatu of Sultan Kudarat and Rep. Rufus Rodriguez of Cagayan de Oro, with 37 congressmen from the Mindanao Bloc appending their signatures as co-authors.
The Senate version, on the other hand, was authored by Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri, a legislator from Mindanao, with Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile, Senators Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Lito Lapid, Manny Villar, Mar Roxas, Richard Gordon, Loren Legarda, Jinggoy Estrada, Ramon Revilla Jr., Pia Cayetano, and Edgardo Angara, as co-authors.
Virgilio Leyretana, chairman of MEDCo chair, called the signing of the MDA law “a historic milestone for Mindanao” and “a landmark piece of legislation which will be a legacy of President Arroyo, as well as the Congress and the Senate” to Mindanao and Palawan.
Rodriguez, a strong Arroyo critic, said the enactment does not only show the President’s “great concern” for Southern Philippines but will also “bring in more funds and projects” that will spur the development of insurgent-wracked Mindanao.
More importantly, the creation of MDA effectively dissolves the ad hoc agencies that have been overseeing Mindanao’s development initiatives over the decades.
Earlier, the influential Bishops-Ulama Conference (BUC) made the strongest appeal to President Arroyo to sign the bill, saying the setting up a permanent development agency for Mindanao’s growth would establish an integrated peace and development mechanism in the island-region.
Catholic Archbishop Fernando Capalla, a BUC convenor, called on the Palace to act with haste on the legislation, saying its enactment “would be a landmark achievement and a meaningful Presidential legacy to Mindanao that will reinforce Her Excellency’s pursuit for a principled, secure and enduring peace in Mindanao.”
President Arroyo, who spent her adolescent years in Southern Philippines, has always shown sensitivity for Mindanao concerns by bringing into the island-regions billions of pesos earmarked for the development of major highways, airports, seaports, and agricultural projects.
Rep. Antonio Cerilles of Zamboanga del Sur, a province in Mindanao, called the MDA law “a vehicle for the harmonization of peace and development efforts in Mindanao” that “would be able to unfold its full promise and thus catch up with the mainstream national in terms of development.”
His position reechoes the statement of Sen. Angara who stressed that the consolidation of the fragmented efforts in Mindanao would be realized as a result of the new law, adding that the same statute would “promote, coordinate, and facilitate the active and extensive participation of all sectors to effect the socio-economic development of Mindanao.”
More about Mindanao, Mindanao development law, Palawan
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