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DAVAO CITY - Secretary Emmanuel Piñol bared that Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) was born out of the advocacies of Mindanao lawmakers, local government officials, and stakeholders for greater focus on the region's development given its measly share of the national budget ranging from only 12 to 16 percent.

"Two years into my six-year term as Chairman of MinDA, I am still confronted with the question "What really is MinDA? Sadly, not very many understand the pivotal role of MinDA in addressing the concerns of a region, which produces over 40 percent of the country's food requirements and leads the country in agricultural exports," he said.

The Bill creating MinDA was approved by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on February 17, 2010 and is now known as Republic Act 9996.

Before MINDA’s creation, the office was known as the Mindanao Economic Development Council or MEDCo, created on March 19, 1992 through EO 512 issued under President Corazon C. Aquino and operationalized under President Fidel V. Ramos.

"In fact, during the last budget hearing where MinDA was given a measly P178-million budget for 2021, Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri chastised the agency for focusing on agriculture and fisheries, which he said made it the Department of Agriculture (DA) for Mindanao," Piñol said.

He also clarified that MinDA is not the DA or the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) of Mindanao because the agency's role in promoting the socio-economic development of the region covers all aspects of governance.

“I told Sen. Zubiri that mandate is to oversee and ensure the socio-economic development of Mindanao. But we are not Mindanao’s version of NEDA because we are not just a planning agency. We design and initiate projects, link up agencies and we work in the field,” he further added.

“I told the hearing, yes, we are Mindanao’s DA, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), Department of Tourism (DOT), and many more. All of these things we do with a budget of only P176 million,” the MinDA chief added.

He added that he assumed the Chairmanship of MinDA on Aug. 5, 2019 following his resignation as Secretary of Agriculture.

"I have set specific goals in achieving the socio-economic development of the region, especially as the country faced the challenges resulting from the COVID 19 Pandemic," Piñol stressed.

The focus of the agency, according to him, in partnership with ODA partners, LGUs, the government financing institutions, and the private sector is on increasing Productivity, addressing Poverty, working on the gains of Peace, and revving up Mindanao's economic recovery.

MinDA works with the European Union, USAID, JICA, AusAid, FAO, UNIDO, World Bank and other foreign partners in implementing development projects like the MINPAD RISE Program.

To provide funding for the requirements of the LGUs and the private sector, MinDA partners with the Development Bank of the Philippines to undertake such projects as the Solar-Powered Water Supply and Irrigation System in Taraka, Lanao del Sur.

"With about 160 highly-trained and capable planners, development strategies and field workers, MinDA plays a key role in exploring and developing Mindanao's potentials," Piñol further said.

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