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PIA Press Release

SPDA now back-on-track

Davao City (3 October) -- After four years in hiatus, the Southern Philippines Development Authority (SPDA) is now gets back on its track with Secretary Datu Zamzamin L. Ampatuan at its helm as SPDA administrator.

In a turn-over ceremony at the SPDA compound in the Catalunan Pequeño this city, Ampatuan assured the public that SPDA will work "with a sense of professionalism to be able to carry on its tasks."

The concurrent secretary of the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC), Ampatuan took the reign over SPDA from Undersecretary Virgilio Leyretana of the Mindanao Economic Development Council (MEDCO) who acted as the "caretaker" of SPDA property under the mandate of Executive Order 1391.

Facing numerous issues, SPDA was deactivated on November 28, 2002 through Executive Order 149. The Mindanao Peace and Development Fund (MPDF) was then created on the same year to focus on government peace and development priorities in Mindanao.

But Leyretana explained that the MPDF failed to achieved its full operation as expected, leading to the issuance of EO 1391 on August 3, 2004, "to settle outstanding accounts of SPDA and retrieve the properties of SPDA including its vehicles."

In a press conference, Ampatuan bared that President Arroyo wanted him to ensure that SPDA operation should be "lean and mean" and gave him instructions to generate financial support to deliver resources needed for Mindanao's development.

SPDA will be appropriated with only P220 million for its operation next year but this is far from the P1 billion funds which Ampatuan believes as enough to carry out its thrusts as it resumes operations.

As it gets back on track, SPDA will take on with its corporate role through funding and operating grassroots projects, which ensures not only local employment and livelihood but also the return of its investments.

"We will rework the process and systems," Ampatuan explained noting that SPDA will make sure repayment schemes would be able to recoup investments being poured on "sound and viable" projects.

SPDA will be closely coordinating with Regional Development Councils (RDCs) all over Mindanao in identifying development projects that would have meaningful impact on the lives especially of those living in depressed areas in Mindanao.

Along with its mandate to take part in pushing for Mindanao's development, SPDA will also carry on a role in fulfilling the peace agreement with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) signed in 1996.

In his speech, Ampatuan looked at the SPDA's reactivation as a renewed hope of the MNLF. "It is a sustaining fulfillment of the government's commitments to the 1996 peace process," Ampatuan said.

He challenged the MNLF leadership to tap its network of foreign assistance especially from the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) which had been vocal about helping former Moro rebels.

He hope that OIC countries would be able to translate their support into financial assistance and be able to match grants and assistance funds poured in from the United States, Japan and Australia, among others.

Together with his effort to raise needed resources, Ampatuan said he wanted to sit down together with the members of SPDA board and draw up a "catch-up plan" that will lay down steps towards fulfilling government commitments to GRP-MNLF peace agreement. (PIA XI/JMDA) [top]

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