By DAVID CAGAHASTIAN
April 10, 2009, 4:29pm [ Manila Bulletin Online ]
Key government agencies have received a presidential order to work double time in completing critical infrastructure projects in Mindanao to help harness the island-region's strong agribusiness potentials.
President Arroyo ordered national line agencies to fast-track construction of farm to market roads, small irrigation facilities and upgrading of hospitals which will greatly impact on the socio-economic well being of Mindanawons.
President Arroyo also directed that projects geared for waterless municipalities and upgrading of primary hospitals under the Katas ng VAT be included in the Mindanao Super Region projects.
In his presentation on the Mindanao Super Region updates, Secretary Jesus Dureza, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel and Mindanao Super Region Development Champion, revealed that seven out of 34 various infrastructure projects under the Mindanao Super Region have already been completed, costing a total of P5.6 billion.
These big- ticket projects include the 210-megawatt Mindanao Coal-fired Power Plant in Tagoloan, the 950-kv Photovoltaic Power Plant in Cagayan de Oro City, the Diosdado Macapagal Bridge in Butuan City, the Manay-Mati Road section of the Surigao-Davao Coastal Road, port development and improvement projects in Davao City, Cagayan de Oro City and Camiguin, farm to market roads and the upgrading of provincial and district hospitals in Mindanao.
Completed under the hospitals upgrading program were the Dr. Jose P. Rizal Memorial Hospital in Dapitan City, the Zamboanga del Norte Provincial Hospital, the Zamboanga del Sur General Hospital, the Mindanao Central Sanitarium and Camp Navarro General Hospital in Zamboanga City, the Basilan General Hospital and the Compostela Valley District Hospital.
Among the ongoing MSR projects include the small irrigation projects in Mindanao which involve the rehabilitation and restoration of existing irrigation systems in Mindanao.
Once completed, the Mindanao irrigation projects are projected to restore 136,058 hectares of irrigable lands which will then produce and additional 476,203 metric tons of rice.
Other on-going projects include roads and bridges, airports, power and energy facilities, agri-support structures and health projects. Funding for these projects must be assured to physically integrate Mindanao and optimize its potential as a strategic Agri-Fishery Export Zone in the South.
“With the multi-dimensional challenges triggered the worldwide financial crisis, there is a need to reinforce the economic resiliency program of President Arroyo. It is imperative that given the urgency of the situation, these projects should be fast-tracked to boost economic activities, improve access to social services as well as generate employment and business opportunities for Mindanao," said Undersecretary Virgilio Leyretana, chairman of the Mindanao Economic Development Council (MEDCo) and Mindanao Super Region Deputy Development Champion.
Leyretana added that infrastructures are jobs creator and the real driver of economic development.
The Mindanao Economic Development Council (MEDCo) heads the Mindanao Super Region Inter-agency group which is assigned to consolidate the updates of the various Mindanao Super Region projects and lobby for the fast-tracking of these projects.
The Mindanao Super Region is part of the Super Region strategy announced by the Chief Executive during her 2006 State of the Nation Address which aims to enhance the competitive advantage of regional groupings.
Under the Super Region strategy, Mindanao's strong potential to become the country's agribusiness center is being developed and harnessed through major infrastructure support.