Mindanao Solon lays out ‘wish list’ ahead of Monday’s Sona

A senior lawmaker on Tuesday urged President Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos Jr. to increase the allocation for Mindanao in next year’s national budget by at least 5% or 286 billion pesos and transfer two national agencies in the south.

Cagayan de Oro City Second District Vice President Rufus Rodriguez asked President Marcos to include the pledge in his first State of the Nation address on Monday.

According to Rodriguez, Mindanao is eligible for additional funds “because based on the 2020 census, it had a population of 26.3 million, or 24% of the country’s population of 109.6 million.”

“We contribute 17% of the country’s total annual production of goods and services,” he said.

Rodriguez said Mindanao received only 13%, or about 650 billion pula, in the national budget this year.

“If our island receives 5% more next year, or 18% of a possible budget of 5.2 trillion pesos, our total allocation would be 936 billion pesos, or an additional 286 billion pesos. This would go a long way in helping our people and developing our region,” he explained.

To further accelerate the development of the island, the parliamentary leader suggested that the president transfer the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources to Mindanao.

He said the president should also appoint the secretaries of the two departments from among qualified professionals from Mindanao.

“Heads of these agencies will have their hands full to develop and explore the agriculture and natural resource sectors, including minerals, in our island. However, the President should ban highly destructive surface mining” , did he declare.

The government should vigorously implement programs to help farmers and fisherfolk recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, high fuel prices and fertilizer costs, and increase food production, including by expanding credit and helping with agricultural inputs and building more irrigation systems, he said.

He added that the President could also include in his first SONA plans for Mindanao, in particular the immediate funding of the first phase of 83 billion pesos and 102 kilometers (Tagum-Davao City-Digos) of the planned first phase of the road of Mindanao iron.

He also called on the President to expedite the implementation of programs for coconut growers under the Coconut Trust Fund Act (Republic Act No. 11524).

Rodriguez also recommended the completion of the rehabilitation of Marawi town.

He also wants the president to resume final peace talks with communist rebels for a lasting peace in Mindanao.

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