THE head of the Mindanao Development Authority has lauded the visit to Mindanao of an Asian Development Bank (ADB) high-level delegation, calling it a strong signal of the bank’s continued support for economic development of the region at this crucial time.
“This high-level visit of ADB executives to Mindanao is not only a manifestation of their interest to support the region’s socioeconomic initiatives, but also sends a strong message that Mindanao is safe, and that it will continue to pursue development despite the odds that the region is currently facing,” said MinDA chair Secretary Luwalhati Antonino.
The 16 Board members and advisors of the ADB arrived in Mindanao to familiarize themselves with the various social sector projects the institution is funding.
“While we mourn for the unfortunate loss of lives caused by the Mamasapano incident, development and peace-building efforts must be continued and even be intensified in Mindanao,” Antonino said, referring to the January 25 gunbattle in Maguindanao that resulted in the killing of 44 police officers, 18 members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and several civilians.
“I laud ADB’s unwavering support to Mindanao and its people, and it is most encouraging to learn that in this time of challenges, the institution has decided to continue with its visit to learn more about Mindanao and design development initiatives aimed to further enhance the region’s economic potentials,” the MinDA head said.
Early this year, the Manila-based bank extended a USD 1.4 million technical assistance for the improvement of national roads in Mindanao, as support to the Philippine Government’s agenda for Mindanao in the Philippine Development Plan 2011-2016.
Part of the plan is to update and consolidate the existing Mindanao network master plan, aligning it with the economic developments for Mindanao’s road network, including the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
Antonino, who sat down with ADB’s Board of Directors as part of the latter’s familiarization visit to Mindanao, thanked the institution for its continued support to the socioeconomic and development initiatives of the island-region.
She added that healing from the recent incident may take time, but this can be done with sobriety without veering away from the ultimate goal of achieving just and lasting peace in the island-region, particularly in the conflict-affected areas of the ARMM (Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao).
Last year, a delegation from ADB also went to Leyte, Ilocos Norte, Albay, and Bohol to visit health, agriculture, and other socioeconomic projects particularly in areas severely hit by Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).
During the meeting with the ADB delegation, a briefing on Mindanao and its participation in the Brunei Darussalam Indonesia Malaysia the Philippine East ASEAN (BIMP-EAG) Growth Area was conducted, while the Bangsamoro Development Plan was also presented by a representative from the Bangsamoro Development Authority.
“The meeting was an excellent opportunity for us to learn more about Mindanao, especially for my colleagues in the ADB board of directors who are relatively new to the country,” said Guadencio Hernandez Jr., ADB alternate executive director in a correspondence with MinDA.
He added that ADB has been supporting BIMP-EAGA since its inception in 1994 through various technical assistance projects.
“The institution was named as the regional development advisor and has since been providing assistance at strategic, operational, and administrative levels,” said Hernadez.
Along with direct support for BIMP-EAGA, ADB’s country assistance to Indonesia and the Philippines also helps the countries implement their BIMP-EAGA’s agenda.