DEVELOPMENT planners from the government and representatives from various sectors in Soccsksargen met here recently to enhance the Mindanao 2020 Peace and Development Framework Plan, envisioned to be Mindanao's development blueprint for the next 20 years.

The workshop engaged government planners, the private sector, academe, non-government organizations, and the media in reviewing the Mindanao 2020 "working document" by commenting on the plan, looking at gaps and formulating strategies for the different themes covered by the plan.

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These themes include peace and security, governance, institutions and politics, economy and environment, human development and social cohesion, and enabling environment.

"I appreciate very much the involvement of planners in that roundtable discussion. The inputs were very material to the draft document," said Al Dataya, planning officer of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in Region 12.

Several rounds of Mindanao 2020 consultations with regional planners have been conducted in Pagadian, Agusan del Sur, Bukidnon, and Davao.

"I can now say that partly I own the plan because I have infused my ideas into it," said Abner Navarro, of the Provincial Planning and Development Office (PPDO) of South Cotabato.

"There's no other way to claim that one has taken part in such a good activity if we have not shared what we had with the intention that good practices in one area may be applied to the whole island," he said.

Throughout the workshop, the participants were reminded to "think Mindanao" despite the inevitable tendency to think of regional development strategies.

Dr. Cielito Habito, Mindanao 2020 team leader and former director-general of the National Economic Development Authority (Neda), said that engaging the planners is critical to the development of the Mindanao 2020 plan, as with the participation of all the sectors, to ensure that the plan is "crafted by Mindanaoans."

"Through this participation, we can ensure a more holistic and substantially enriched Mindanao 2020," Habito said.

Habito also said that Mindanaoans have been involved in formulating the plan in various platforms including a quick survey of around 400 respondents, focus group discussions (FGDs) among various stakeholders in Mindanao, Key Informant

Interviews (KIIs) with noted leaders such as former President Fidel Ramos and Nur Misuari.

He also said that they made use of various Mindanao reports and results from various consultative groups such as Konsult Mindanaw.

Ella Antonio, Mindanao 2020 project coordinator, said that they will present the draft plan to the Aquino administration for review and promulgation.

Antonio and Habito are trustees of the Brain Trust Inc., a consulting group commissioned by the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) to facilitate the formulation of the Mindanao 2020 plan.

Ollie Dagala, from the Minda, said that the Mindanao 2020 will become the agency's blueprint in pursuing development imperatives for Mindanao. MinDA is the former Mindanao Economic Development Council (Medco) institutionalized as an agency through the Republic Act 9996 passed last February.

"I am glad to hear that MinDA intends to coordinate a 'science-based' database of information on the Mindanao environment and hopefully steer the policy discussion toward our common good," said Engr. Nael D. Cruspero, City Planning and Development Officer of General Santos City.

He also said that more periodic roundtable discussions will be set with local government planners as well as city planning officers as some issues are unique to the urban environment of Mindanao.