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Friday, July 27, 2012
PART of the third State of the Nation Address by President Benigno Aquino III talked about the upcoming 8.6 billion funding for the administration of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao or Armm.
Why did I make a comparison? Well, I think this is the perfect time for me to inform our readers on what the Cordillerans can benefit from autonomy if ever we decide to become an autonomous region.
The President stated in his SONA on the subject of peace that finally, the government is moving ahead to answer the long symbol of frustrated hopes by the people of Mindanao.
The peace process being undertaken by the Aquino government to ensure a long and lasting development for Armm and its people who have experienced the phantoms of past administrations by having real housing, bridges, and learning centers for the neglected Badjaos in Basilan.
Community-based hatcheries, nets, materials to grow seaweeds, and seedlings have benefited 2,588 fishermen as well as certified seeds, gabi seedlings, cassava, rubber, and trees that are bearing fruit for 145,121 farmers.
The President said this is only the beginning. 183 million pesos has been set aside for the fire stations; 515 million pesos for clean drinking water; 551.9 million pesos for health-care equipment; 691.9 million pesos for daycare centers; and 2.85 billion pesos for the roads and bridges across the region.
These are just some of the things that will be afforded by the aggregate 8.59 billion pesos the national government has granted the Armm. Not including the yearly support that they receive, which in 2012 reached 11.7 billion pesos.
University of the Philippines Professor and political analyst Prospero De Vera in a recent autonomy forum in Baguio City pointed out that the framers of the third organic act or house bill 5595 that seeks to create an autonomous region for the Cordillera, must find mechanisms that will ensure the proper placement and appropriation of funds for projects truly beneficial to the people of the Cordilleras, that will undergo public accountability from public officials.
Dr. Virgilio Bautista, Co-chairman of the Regional Development Council agreed with Dr.De Vera. These mechanisms must be placed specifically identifying who the recipients of funds are, where is it intended, how would it be used, and who will be accountable for these.
Being a developmental management student, I fully agree with Dr. Gil when he said that "if we are to learn from the ARMM experience, President Aquino's SONA shows to us how we must come up with project proposals clearly benefitting the people of the Cordillera through a clear perspective of development, and not through a political perspective".
If the Aquino government have allotted close to 9 billion pesos for Armm aside from the yearly support that they get from government, by comparison, this shows us the economic potentials of the region in terms of agriculture, hydro electric power resources, tourism, mining, and others.
Take for example the needed Coffee products that we can support in the international market, the growing of the business process outsourcing industry in the region, the continued plans by international companies to set up in the region among others.
Dr. Gil clearly described that the President's report to the people is in a national perspective. As such, for us to ensure that we may achieve our quest for an autonomous region for the Cordilleras, we must truly show to the people of the Cordilleras, the economic potentials of the region, it's economic development, and the solutions that will ensure the alleviation of poverty in the Cordilleras.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on July 27, 2012.