THE Mindanao Economic Development Council (Medco) on Monday rallied presidential candidates to have a "clear agenda for Mindanao."

"Mindanao has always been dubbed 'the land of promise' but it has been a victim of development disparity and always treated with biases and prejudices. With the multi-cultural and multi-sectoral stakeholders rallying a strong and urgent call for a permanent institution mechanism, candidates running for president (should show) a clear agenda to address the socio-historical injustice suffered by this southern region," said Medco chair Undersecretary Virgilio Leyretana.

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He said those aspiring for the presidency must define what kind of a country they would want the Philippines to be and what role will Mindanao play "to ensure the consolidation of the Philippine archipelago in a strong, united and progressive nation."

Leyretana said much attention should be given to presidential aspirants after proposed Mindanao Economic Development Authority (Meda) bill was approved this week during the bicameral conference committee deliberation of both Senate and House of Representatives.

He admitted that previous attention given to Mindanao under the National Economic Development Authority (Neda) "has not reflected realities on the ground."

The bill was pushed in view of the need for Mindanao to catch up with the mainstream national development.

Key proponents of the bill from both chambers are expected to review, harmonize and come up with a final and approved version to be transmitted to the Office of the President for signing.

General provisions of the Meda proposal seek to strengthen the existing Mindanao Economic Development Council (Medco) by converting it into Meda, a permanent agency that will carry on the critical task of ensuring coherence, consistency and continuity of peace and development efforts in Mindanao. (JCZ/With Sunnex)