TWO Dabawenyo lawmakers urged the government not to further delay the implementation of the Metropolitan Davao Development Authority (MDDA) as this would adversely affect Davao Region's economy.

Davao City First Congressional District Representative Paolo Duterte, in a press release, said the MDDA should be implemented as soon as possible "to put in place efficient, long-term solutions to the challenges facing the rapid urbanization and progress of one of the fastest growing regional economies in the country."

“We should not delay anymore the implementation of the law creating the MDDA. Metro Davao is seven times the size of Metro Manila and even bigger than the land area of Singapore,” Duterte said.

The lawmaker said MDDA is necessary so that the development plans of the cities and municipalities comprising Metro Davao will move in a synchronized path that is beneficial to all

“We can save Metro Davao from haphazard planning and transform it into a smart, sustainable, and resilient metropolis if the Metro Davao Development Authority can start doing its job,” added Duterte, who was one of the principal authors of the MDDA law in the 18th Congress.

Duterte said the MDDA’s responsibilities and functions are designed to further energize Mindanao’s economy, expand job and business opportunities, and improve the delivery of public services in the Davao Region.

Duterte noted that Metro Davao spurred the pre-pandemic growth of the Davao Region to seven percent in 2019, making it the country’s third-fastest regional economy. Even amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Davao Region continued its economic expansion at 5.9 percent in 2021, which is above the national level, said Duterte citing the data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

Third District Rep. Isidro Ungab, principal author of the MDDA law at the Lower House, supported Duterte’s sentiment on the delay of its implementation.

“Any further delay in its implementation actually impacts Davao Region's economy and deters investments therein,” Ungab said.

The representative said he hoped a timeline will be set and actions towards full implementation of the MDDA law will be defined and done immediately.

Ungab, the principal author and sponsor of the law at the Lower House, pointed out that the MDDA law espouses the National Spatial Strategy (NSS) as included in the Philippine Medium Term Development Plan (PDP) 2017 to 2022, which also aims to direct the growth to key centers throughout the country, through regional agglomeration.

According to Ungab, the creation of MDDA, consisting of six cities and nine municipalities in the region and to be named "Metropolitan Davao", is in response to the fast growth and peculiar urbanization of the Davao Region.

Ungab underscores that the immediate creation of MDDA will indeed assure stronger coordination among Metro Davao’s component cities and municipalities in the planning, implementation, and monitoring of priority programs and projects. Ungab foresees that with the MDDA creation the need for a synchronized and unified development in the region will be sufficiently addressed.

Under the Republic Act (RA) 11708, Metropolitan Davao includes Davao City; the cities of Panabo, Tagum, and Island Garden City of Samal in Davao del Norte; Digos City in Davao del Sur; Mati City in Davao Oriental; and the municipalities of Sta. Cruz, Hagonoy, Padada, Malalag, and Sulop in Davao del Sur, Carmen in Davao del Norte, Maco in Davao de Oro, and Malita and Sta Maria in Davao Occidental.

The development of Metro Davao, which serves as the economic and administrative core of the Davao Region and the entire Mindanao, requires a unified approach to lessen, or even nip in the bud. These problems plague fragmented urban communities, Duterte said.

Among the key concerns that the MDDA should urgently address are Metro Davao’s infrastructure system, its transportation policies and programs, solid waste disposal and flood control management, water and power supply, and urban planning and shelter concerns, Duterte said.

Duterte said that with the MDDA in place, Metro Davao can further boost the development of Mindanao, and transform it into a major economic gateway in Asia.

Under the law, the Metropolitan Davao Development Council (MDDC) will serve as the MDDA’s governing board and policy-making body.

The Davao Regional Development Council began drafting the MDDA law’s IRR and initial budget as well as the MDCC’s staffing pattern in May this year. The final outputs will be endorsed to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

The 18th Congress passed the MDDA law in the final months of the administration of former President Rodrigo Duterte. The law was signed by Duterte in April 2022, with only two months left before the end of his term. RGL