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Developing Mindanao

Mindanao

ONCE regarded as the so-called “Land of Promise” due to its rich natural resources, Mindanao, the country’s second largest island, remains underdeveloped compared to Luzon.

Without doubt, the suffering of Mindanaoans, the most deprived citizens in this impoverished Southeast Asian nation of election-crazy people, now demands the most “urgent and special attention.

This is so because the six-year presidency of tough-talking but notoriously honest Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte, the first Mindanaoan to occupy the top political post of the land, ends in 16 months time.

In the view of political observers, there is really that urgent need to establish multi-agency monitoring groups to oversee the implementation of major infrastructure projects in the region.

The first monitoring group – the Davao del Norte “Infrastructure Monitoring and Advisory Group (IMAG)” – will be set up Wednesday, according to the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA).

MinDA Chair Manny F. Pinol said that the other Mindanao provinces will have their own IMAGs. When Pinol was governor of North Cotabato, he chaired the IMAG for the whole of Mindanao.

IMAG members include state agencies, notably the Department of Public Works and Highways, the religious sector, the mayor of the town where the project is located, and civic organizations.

Pinol, a former agriculture secretary, said the IMAG proved to be “a very effective mechanism” in giving stakeholders greater involvement in the monitoring of major infrastructure projects in the region.

The IMAG, he said, conducted quarterly meetings where all members, especially the construction companies, report on the progress of their projects.

Concerned government agencies ought to act now – and fast – if we are to finish the construction of all infrastructure projects of the outgoing Duterte administration before June 30, 2022.