Peace group seek bigger budget for Mindanao PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 08 October 2015 18:01

An influential peace advocacy bloc has risen from dormancy to campaign for an increase in government funding for development initiatives in Mindanao.

The group was convened on Monday at the Marco Polo Hotel in Davao City by Oblate priest Eliseo Mercado, Jr. and lawyer Benedicto Bacani of the foreign-assisted Institute for Autonomy and Governance (IAG).

The IAG is involved in current projects complementing the Mindanao peace process. It also has on-going programs meant to improve the governing capabilities of local government units in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

In Monday’s “Eminent Mindanawon Leaders’ Forum” in Davao City, peace activists, from across Southern Philippines, agreed to reengage in efforts aimed at convincing policymakers to allocate for Mindanao at least 30 percent of the yearly national budget to expedite its development into an economic hub in cross-cultural settings.

Most of the participants to the forum are members of the “Kusog Mindanao” peace group, comprised of prominent traders, representatives from civil society organizations, from the police and the military.

Kusog is a generic term for strength in most Visayan dialects.

The forum was also attended by a senior economist from the World Bank, the Dutchman Rogier Van Den Brink, who talked lengthily about interventions that can boost Mindanao’s rise into a wealthy economic zone in the country.

A representative of the Department of Budget Management, Maria Fe Jagna, also discussed in the forum the national budget per region and allocation for governance, infrastructure, social welfare, education and health thrusts for 2015 and preceding years.

Members of the Kusog Mindanao had agreed to escalate anew the involvement of the group in forums intended to generate public consciousness on the need to maximize peace and development initiatives in the country’s south, including the ARMM.

The ARMM covers Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur, which are both in Central Mindanao, and the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.