Archive | February 2007

From “conflict” to “vulnerable” areas: a government shift on developing Mindanao?

From “conflict areas” development programs will be flowed, too, to “vulnerable areas” in Mindanao, Peace Process Adviser Sec. Jesus Dureza said in a press conference Wednesday.

Dureza said this as he announced “up scaling” of development effort in Mindanao a day after participants of a conference reviewing frameworks of development in the island proposed at least three policy recommendations challenging present development efforts.

Dureza said the change of term embodies a shift to the flow of resources not only in conflict areas but also to “poor communities that equally need assistance”.

He could not yet, however, reveal details on how the areas would be identified.

He announced that the Mindanao Working Group, composed of international donor agencies and government officials, has adapted the three recommendations during a meeting at the Marco Polo hotel Wednesday.

Among the recommendations, Dureza said, include the putting up of a peace and development fund to upscale intervention for peace and development in Mindanao.

He also cited they adopted the recommendation to use a community driven framework of development.

Dureza said they also accepted the proposal to provide incentives to local government units that performed well in delivering development work. He said this will give leverage to deserving local government units to gain more projects.

He said the three recommendations, which he said will be put forward to the Philippine Development Forum in Cebu on March 8 to 9, are centered on capacitating the LGUs.

Misuari in Jeddah tri-partite meet: still up for the court to decide – Dureza

Two weeks before the scheduled tri-partite meeting between the government, the Moro National Liberation Front, and the Organization of Islamic Conference in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, the government still has not indicated if MNLF chair Nur Misuari will be released temporarily to attend it.

Peace Process adviser Sec. Jesus Dureza said it is up for the courts to decide.

Misuari has been detained since January 2002 on rebellion charges for the November 2001 uprising of his men in Sulu and Cabatangan in Zamboanga City.

Dureza could not say if a court decision is out before the March 17 to 18 preparatory meeting.

He said, however, that he is batting for Misuari’s attendance in the tripartite meeting.  Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte said he accepted Misuari’s invitation to go with the MNLF delegation as observer.

An MNLF official last year said in an interview that the success of the tripartite meeting is crucial “or else, we may again go back to square one,” he warned.

Supporters have sought the unconditional release of Misuari so he could lead the MNLF delegation to the Jeddah.

World Bank exec: Peace in Mindanao key in RP’s catch up plan

Peace in Mindanao is an important piece of the country’s strategy to catch up with the rapid developing and growing economies in Asia, Joachim Von Amsberg, World Bank country director told reporters Wednesday.

He said it is important to improve the country’s investment climate which includes work to assure security for investors to come in.

Amsberg said the World Bank and the other donor agencies involved in pouring in development support to Mindanao are looking at reducing poverty.

He said up for deliberation at the Philippine Development Forum in Cebu next week will be how to translate present gains in the fiscal reforms will be translated into actual investments.
He said peace and development is an important ingredient of the strategy.

He said both local and foreign investors are worried about putting capital in a situation with a perception that there are issues that risk the investment environment.But he said the international community’s flow of financial support is just a small portion of the Philippine economy. He stressed they are just here to support  the government’s programs which is still the source  of  much of the  resources for development.

 

Duterte’s daughter denies dynasty plans

City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s daughter 28-year-old daughter Sara has denied their family is planning to build a political dynasty even as she declared she was ready to be her father’s
running mate in the May 14, 2007 elections.

The young Duterte bared her plan to run for vice mayor in an interview with
MindaNews Wednesday. But she could not give a categorical answer as to
whether her decision to run is already final.

“I’m ready to run. But for now we are still going around to continue
consulting the public,” she said.

The mayor has tested the waters for his daughter’s candidacy by
holding “public consultations” around Davao’s 184 barangays.

Sara said the move should not be interpreted as part of a plan to build a
political dynasty in the city because their fate would depend on the outcome
of the elections.

“The people have a choice whether they will vote for us. That is why we
cannot impose ourselves upon them,” she said.

“We are in a democracy where the people are assured of choosing their
candidates,” she added.

Prolonged ceasefire tops emerging issues on development

“It is most likely that a scenario of prolonged ceasefire without the signing of a peace agreement will persist for quite sometime,” a government official said citing the
concern on top of six other issues that he expected will heavily
impact on the peace and development efforts in Mindanao.

Dr. Fermin Adriano, consultant to the Mindanao Economic Development
Council (MEDCo) and senior advisor at the Office of the Presidential
Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), put the issues forward last
Monday in a review conference on paradigms of development in Mindanao.

Adriano, in his paper presented to the First Mindanao Studies
Conference, said the consideration of the issue is utmost in moving
the peace process forward.

He cited the impasse over the inclusion of additional areas to the
Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) in the proposed
“Bangsamoro Juridical Entity” and the manner by which the areas will
be included.

Adriano cited that many donors are waiting for the peace agreement as
cue to extend more aid to conflict affected areas as “peace
dividends.”

“The challenge is how to use the available limited assistance to
create a real impact on confidence-building to convince the rebels of
the sincerity of the government in finding a negotiated peace settlement of the conflict,” he said in his paper furnished to conference participants.

Report on ceasefire violations probe out by mid-March

An adhoc committee set to submit a report next month is investigating allegations of ceasefire violations committed by both the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the chief of the government’s ceasefire committee said.

Brig. Gen. Edgardo Gurrea said the adhoc committee has zeroed in on
the alleged violations by both partiers in Midsayap, North Cotabato in
a series of clashes last month.

He said the findings could be out around March 15.

The fact-finding mission, an adhoc committee led by the International
Monitoring Team (IMT), will collect and validate data in the field to
see “who started who” in the clashes, Gurrea told MindaNews in an
interview Monday.

The mission is composed of representatives from the government and the
Moro rebels, civil-society organizations like the grassroots-based
Bantay Ceasefire.

Gurrea assured whatever the outcome of the investigation of the
incidents he identified as “isolated cases” would be properly carried
out.

He said they are counting on the local government in Midsayap and
North Cotabato to address the problem of land conflict, which is
reported to be the cause of the clashes.

Bantay Ceasefire, a civilian ceasefire monitoring group, said in a
report on January 29 there is consensus the root cause of the clashes
was land dispute.

“But not everybody knows it is a deep-seated and very complicated
problem that involves a lot of individuals, some of them economically
and politically powerful,” the report said.

Gurrea said there is substantial reduction of the number of violations
— from 15 violent incidents in 2005 to eight in 2006. He predicted it
will be cut further this year.

Tuna industry, MinBC hit NEDA chief on BIMP-EAGA statement

The local tuna industry here has disputed statements by Secretary Romulo Neri, of the National Economic and Development  Authority (NEDA), that the Mindanao has made
a mistake by partnering with fellow poor areas in the Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines – East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA)

The Mindanao Business Council (MinBC), meanwhile, said that Neri’sstatement was “an insult to both the government and the private sector
working on economic cooperation in the area” when he said that the
BIMP-EAGA is the “wrong economic partner” for Mindanao’s industries.

Mindanao is the Philippines’ key player in the sub-regional economic
block formed in 1994.

Domingo Teng, immediate past president of the Socsksargen Federation
of Fishing Associations and Allied Industries, Inc. (Federation), said
in a statement that EAGA has helped the industry, like forging joint
business ventures with their counterparts in the other member
countries.

“It is not true that nothing has happened in BIMP-EAGA. It is better
for NEDA to come down and get the specific data on BIMP- EAGA,” he
stressed.

Teng pointed out that two years ago, two local fishing companies in
Southern Mindanao were able to put up canneries in Bitung, North
Sulawesi through a joint venture agreement with Indonesian
counterparts.