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PIA Press Release

RP export banana industry lauds passage of MEDA Bill

Davao City (15 January) -- The distinctively Mindanaoan enterprise that is the Philippine export banana industry yesterday lauded the priority attention extended by both houses of the Philippine legislature to the bill creating the Mindanao Economic Development Authority (MEDA).

Congress approved House Bill 6958 which provides for the restructuring of the Mindanao Economic Development Council (MEDCO) into the Mindanao Economic Development Authority (MEDA) so as to further accelerate efforts to promote peace and development in Mindanao.

The said bill was also adopted as the final version and passed by the Philippine Senate last December 13, 2009.

"It is a measure long overdue," declared Stephen A. Antig, president of the Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association citing the pressing need of the country for food security and a much stronger and stable agro-industrial base in order to cope with the challenges and problems posed by the lingering global economic downturn. Antig said that the reality of climate change has also made imperative the development of Mindanao into the country's main agricultural zone.

"The need to facilitate private and public sector investments to provide for much-needed agro-industries, technical support services, educational facilities, security programs and the massive infrastructure requirements of our island-region necessitates a permanent integrative structure such as the Mindanao Economic Development Authority," said Antig.

Antig said that it is to the best interest of the country that the Mindanao Economic Development Authority be implemented soonest so as to encourage private sector participation in translating Mindanao's vast potential as an East Asian economic resource into reality.

Renante Bangoy, chair of the coalition of some 30,000 small landowners and agrarian reform beneficiaries in the region who are into banana farming, the Save Our Sagingan Movement, expressed optimism that the creation of the Mindanao Economic Development Authority will provide the national government with an "on-the-ground" mechanism to gather inputs for policy-making and address problems in Mindanao with immediacy.

"The ambivalence and indecision of armchair executives of some national line agencies who cannot make heads or tails of our problems here are among the stumbling blocks to our growth," said Bangoy.

"MEDA will surely bring government closer to Mindanaoans," Bangoy said.

Bangoy said that stakeholders of the industry also see Mindanao rapidly transformed not only as the country's agro-industrial base but also the educational and major trading hub of BIMP-EAGA with the activation of the Mindanao Development Authority. (ERL) [top]

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