PGMA ready to sign MinDA bill into law
by Jean Duron-Abangan
Davao City (18 February) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo would have signed the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) had she been handed the paper during the dinner she hosted for media practitioners at the Waterfront Insular Hotel in Davao City.
"As soon as it comes to me, I'll sign it. If it has to come to me, I would have signed it right here in front of you," she said in a cheerful mode which elicited cheers from Davao and Tagum-based media practitioners.
The President told the media of her excitement to have that bill signed into law, "because I have authored that Bill when I was in Senate."
She noted the Bill to have been long overdue. It was submitted to Congress by another law-maker before she authored it in 1992, taking about 20 years, wrestling resistance from opposition before it came out from Congress Bicameral Committee late last month, and made ready for her signing into law.
"I remember I had a meeting right here at insular with Mindanao leaders, telling me
how important is that bill," she said.
In a separate interview, Mindanao Economic and Development Council (MEDCO) Chairman Virgilio Leyretana explained that MEDCO would be replaced by MinDA which will provide the strategic development direction for Mindanao.
"Another agency will not be formed. It's just MEDCO changed to MinDA and institutionalizing it as the government agency which will formulate an integrated development framework for Mindanao," he said.
Leyretana also explained that MinDA will act as the Philippine coordinating office for the
Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asean Growth Area (EAGA) and that the MinDA chair will sit as an ex-officio member of the board of the National Economic Development Authority.
With MinDA's direct involvement in NEDA board, Leyretana said Mindanao would be properly represented in the national planning process.
However, President Arroyo does not look at MinDA as the ultimate means of uniting peoples in Mindanao saying "unity of the people does not come from a NEDA for Mindanao, it comes from the people themselves."
She hopes that differences would be set aside and encourages people to really work for Mindanao's development to harness its human and natural potential.
"Mindanao is the bread basket of the country and with that, there comes so much prosperity if we can set aside our differences," she told the media. (PIA XI/JMDA) [top]