Academe says MEDA to go beyond regionalism, should strengthen research
Manila (21 October) -- The academic sector in Mindanao pushes for the creation of an agency that has a vision broader than the regional perspective and can improve the link between development and peace in the island-region.
"We need an institution that has a vision and a mandate broader than the tribal divisions within Mindanao and more focused than national, helicopter planning… an institution bigger than the regional, ethnic, geographical divisions," said Fr. Albert Alejo, of Ateneo de Davao University's Mindanawon Initiatives for Cultural Dialogue.
Alejo was one of the resource speakers during the Senate public hearing of the Mindanao Economic Development Authority (MEDA) Bill held here last month.
Alejo said that pushing for Mindanao-specific issues and concerns has remained a problem especially that the national perspective is different.
"For example, in education, we want to push for a Mindanao culture-sensitive curriculum. Do you go to DepEd 9, 11? But there is no Mindanao DepEd, so you go to national. But the national has a different perspective… we have a problem there," he said.
Alejo, who is also the project director for Konsult Mindanaw, added that with Mindanao's unique situation, there is a "continuing clamor for passionate, intelligent, expert concern for Mindanao " not only in the development aspect but for peace.
Konsult Mindanaw has conducted around 311 community consultations in support to the peace process in Mindanao. It is currently analyzing the results of the consultations before it will be released in the coming weeks.
"MEDA should improve the intimate link between development and peace. We cannot let peace lag behind development," he said.
Meanwhile, Dr. Ricardo de Ungria, president of the Mindanao Studies Consortium Foundation, Inc. (MSCFI) and former chancellor of the University of the Philippines-Mindanao, said that while MEDA oversees the economic development in Mindanao, it should also help in strengthening educational and socio-cultural aspect through research.
"MEDA should keep its connection with the research foundation, because there is a lot of knowledge that must still be produced in that island (Mindanao)," he said.
"At present, it is like a library with all the books in the floor," he said, adding that the agency can help both in knowledge production and management in the island.
"It is my belief that 10, 15 years from now when MEDA is created, people will say there is foresight in the creation of this authority… due to the need for a unit that will oversee the peace and development processes in Mindanao," De Ungria said.
MSCFI is a studies consortium composed of academe and research institutions in Mindanao with the support provided by MEDCo as its Secretariat. The MSCFI was one of the first groups to call for the permanency of MEDCo as an office during the consortium's first conference in 2007.
"Mindanao should not only be seen as a promise and the fulfillment is in Manila. MEDA can be the champion as an institution," Alejo said.
Both Alejo and De Ungria joined other Mindanao leaders in the private sector, religious and government during the MEDA Bill hearing led by Senator Edgardo Angara, under the sub-committee on Economic Affairs. Senator Richard Gordon also attended the hearing.
A final Senate version of the bill, which is a consolidation of the ten bills filed by Senators Angara, Gordon, Loren Legarda, Mar Roxas, Ramon Revilla, Jinggoy Estrada, Manuel Lapid, Manny Villar, Miriam Defensor-Santiago, and Juan Miguel Zubiri, will soon be released for second reading.
Mindanao leaders have urged for a permanent body that will integrate peace and development efforts in Mindanao and ensure its continuity and consistency with Mindanao's unique landscape. (MEDCo) [top]