DAGUPAN CITY, Pangasinan: Independent presidential candidate Sen. Grace Poe on Sunday said while she supports all-out war against terrorist groups to achieve lasting peace in Mindanao, the move should also be supplemented with all-out development.
According to Poe, the national government must invest in infrastructure projects, health programs and livelihood opportunities to benefit Mindanao’s 22 million people.
“All-out war sa mga nagbabanta sa atin pero dapat all-out development din [All-out war to those who threaten us, but there should also be all-out development],” Poe said in response to a question during the third and final presidential debate on Sunday here.
The presidential aspirants were asked by a Muslim mother whose family was among those displaced by armed fighting in the region if they could bring lasting peace in Mindanao.
Alongside security issues, Poe said agriculture was one sector that the government should help if it wants to bring development to remote areas of the region.
Infrastructure projects, she noted, would be able to connect different towns in the region, making them accessible to security forces during emergencies.
To make her plans a reality, Poe said, her Gobyernong may Puso (Government with a Heart) would allocate one-third of the national budget or P1 trillion to Mindanao to fast-track development in the region, which has 11 of the 20 poorest provinces in the Philippines.
Another P300 billion will be allotted to help the agriculture sector, which comprises 60 percent of the poorest Filipinos.
Poe noted the failure of the government to provide enough funding in Mindanao despite region’s huge contribution to the country’s agricultural sector.
The senator cited South Cotabato, which produces more than P200 billion worth of agricultural products but the government only allotted P9 million for the region as assistance to El Nino-hit areas.