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PIA Press Release

MEDA bill set for bicam hearing on 19 January

Davao City (14 January) -- Following its approval on third and final reading both in Congress and Senate last year, the proposed Mindanao Economic Development Authority (MEDA) bill will advance to the bicameral conference committee deliberation on 19 January when both chambers resume regular session next week.

Senate Bill 3496 or MEDA Bill and its counterpart bill in Congress, House Bill 6958 or the Mindanao Development Authority Bill (MinDA) are two versions of a legislative measure pushing for the creation of a permanent Mindanao body that will integrate and harmonize peace and development efforts in Mindanao. It has also been pushed in view of the need for Mindanao to catch up with the mainstream national development.

Key proponents of the bill from both chambers are expected to review, harmonize and come up with a final and approved version to be transmitted to the Office of the President for signing.

MEDA and MinDA bills are among the remaining priority measures that have been pipelined when both chambers resume session on 18 January until 05 February this year.

General provisions of the MEDA proposal seek to strengthen the existing Mindanao Economic Development Council (MEDCo) by converting it into MEDA, a permanent agency that will carry on the critical task of ensuring coherence, consistency and continuity of peace and development efforts in Mindanao.

Established in 1992 through EO 512, MEDCo operates as the only existing Mindanao-wide government mechanism that provides a coordinated and rationalized platform for program implementation and monitoring, investment promotion and policy advocacy for Mindanao.

Undersecretary Virgilio Leyretana, chairman of the Mindanao Economic Development Council (MEDCo), lauded the Senate and Congress for passing the bill as it only validates the lawmakers' commitment to develop Mindanao and accelerate the region's inclusion in the mainstream of national body politic.

"The enactment of the MEDA Bill is seen to enhance the potential role of Mindanao as the bridge to all cultures in this country and in BIMP-EAGA, as well as the linchpin of our country's security and national interest," Leyretana said.

MEDA shall act as the Philippine Coordinating Office for the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-the Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA), the lead government agency in coordinating the formulation and implementation of all Philippine-EAGA activities, programs and projects.

The MEDA, when created, shall also act as implementing agency for Mindanao-specific interregional and Mindanao-wide programs and projects. The authority shall cover all provinces and cities in Region IX, X, XI, XII, Caraga and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

In Congress, the MinDA bill is principally authored by Deputy House Speaker Simeon Datumanong and Sultan Kudarat Representative Datu Pax Mangudadatu and supported by the Mindanao bloc.

Meanwhile, MEDA Bill sponsors at the Senate include Senators Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Edgardo Angara, Manny Villar, Richard Gordon, Juan Miguel Zubiri, Lito Lapid, Jinggoy Ejercito-Estrada, Ramon Revilla, Loren Legarda and Mar Roxas. (MEDCO) [top]

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