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Aquino vows bigger infrastructure budget for Mindanao

DAVAO CITY—President Aquino has promised a bigger infrastructure allocation for Mindanao to move its mainly perishable agricultural products to the markets and, at the same time, enhance the island’s agricultural competitiveness in the Asean economic integration in 2015. 

He said the government had allocated P61.54 billion in the budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for roads, bridges and other infrastructure projects on the island for the period 2011-2014.

“The good news is: This number will be increasing even more. For 2014 alone, we are proposing to Congress that the DPWH allocate P34.29 billion more for projects in the region,” he told business leaders in this year’s Mindanao Business Conference held at the SMX Convention Center at SM Lanang Premier.

He said the 2014 budget was “more than half of what has been allocated in the last three years.”

“We have also begun work on major roads in Mindanao, such as the Lake Lanao Circumferential Road Project worth P767 million, which will be completed in February 2015,” he said.

The Department of Transportation and Communications, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines and the Philippine Ports Authority “are also in the process of constructing or rehabilitating 15 airports and 46 ports; and this is not including the Laguindingan Airport, which finally began operations a few months ago, after being put off for 22 years,” the President said.

He added that the infrastructure activities were meant “to see a Mindanao economy no longer stifled by a lack of proper roads, ports, or airports.”

“Our efforts at improving transport infrastructure do not just help farmers and local industries; they also have a profound effect on tourism,” Mr. Aquino said.  

The President repeated what he had been telling groups in Mindanao in his sorties that the island was  “blessed with natural gifts that lend themselves not just to sightseeing, but to diving and surfing and many other activities that tourists would enjoy.” 

“And the airports, ports and roads we have constructed are already doing their part to open Mindanao’s attractions up to the rest of the country and the rest of the world,” he said. 

To his administration, he credited such highly successful campaigns as the Department of Tourism’s “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” campaign, which he said “has already made a tangible impact on Mindanao, increasing foreign travelers in the region by 14.55 percent from 2010 to 2011.”  

Mindanao saw almost 150,000 more domestic travelers in 2011 compared to 2010. “And we fully expect that when the 2012 data come out, these numbers will have increased further,” he said.  

 “Having more tourists—both domestic and foreign—experience the true richness and beauty of Mindanao will make every visitor a positive advocate of peace, progress and stability,” the President said. 

Adverting to the theme of the Mindanao Business Conference on Asean integration, he said, “there is no one way to realize the potential that Mindanao has always possessed: it is a pursuit that must be done through the integration of a wide range of industries. 

“It must involve the participation of different stakeholders. Addressing all these issues is the only way to truly accelerate the growth of this region so that people can talk not just about its potential, but also about its vibrancy in the here and now. 

“All these efforts will, likewise, sufficiently prepare Mindanao for Asean Integration.  The vision here is also to create a Mindanao that can compete within Asean community,” he said.

In Photo: President Aquino answers questions from the media during a news briefing after opening the 22nd Mindanao Business Conference (MinBizCon 2013) with the theme “One, Global Mindanao: Moving Toward Asean Business Integration” on Thursday. The MinBizCon, held at the SMX Convention Center in Lanang, Davao City, discussed policy agenda and craft recommendations aimed at preparing the island-region for the anticipated Asean integration by 2015. With the President at left is Mindanao Development Authority Chairman Luwalhati Antonino. (Malacañang Photo)






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