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PIA Press Release

Dureza calls support for new MinDA head

By Jean Duron-Abangan

Island Garden City of Samal (14 September) -- Long time Mindanao development leader Jesus Dureza Saturday asked media practitioners to support the newly appointed Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) chair Lualhati Antonino.

Dureza encouraged the media to give Antonino the "chance to work" while noting the position he will be relinquishing "as a hot seat", taking into account the various challenges that its occupant is expected to handle.

"Give her the same support that you gave me," he told participants to the Regional Media Conference held last Saturday and Sunday at Blue Jaz Resort.

Former Senator Manuel "Mar" Roxas early this month disclosed the appointment of former South Cotabato representative Antonino as head of the newly created MIDA, replacing Dureza who will be formally turning over his post on Wednesday.

"I have full confidence in her to head [the development] of Mindanao," Roxas quoted the President as saying during the 12th National Tuna Congress in General Santos City where he represented the President as the guest of honor.

Dureza viewed it as important that the MinDA head should carry the full support of the country's incumbent president.

"It is best for Mindanao, best for MinDA that we give it to somebody who has the full support of the President," he said.

Meanwhile, Dureza pointed out major concerns needing necessary attention so Mindanao can move forward.

As an island with people of diverse cultures and beliefs, Dureza saw the need for social cohesion which can be achieved through efforts geared towards fostering understanding and acceptance among each other to get rid of biases paving way for peace and harmony.

"That is the reality of Mindanao, that there is diversity (here)," he said.

Dureza was also concerned about the still-persisting poverty situation in Mindanao which, based on a Mindanao 2020 presentation", posted a latest poverty incidence of 38.8 percent, which is 1.1 percent point increase from 37.7 percent in 2003.

"Why are we still poor," Dureza threw the question.

Aside from poverty, Dureza brought to public attention the recurring peace problem in Mindanao.

He briefly talked about revisiting the peace agreement of the national government with the Moro National Liberation Frong (MNLF) and settling claims of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) over its ancestral domain.

Over and above the daunting problems on conflict and poverty, he also cited the need to pay attention to environment concerns which are posing threat to Mindanao's sustainable development.

"Waters in Mindanao's rivers that used to be bubbly are almost gone and look at our forests," he said.

With environmental problems surfacing and their effects now being felt, Dureza wanted attention be given to marginalized sector which he said will suffer the most. (PIA XI) [top]

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