CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – For Mindanao to progress, the chief of the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) has enjoined all the concerned stakeholders to resolve the armed conflict that has been plaguing the island for decades.

“We need to strive together to address all the lingering challenges of poverty, inequality, and injustice in Mindanao, under our own terms and with our own collective historical understanding,” MinDA Secretary Abu Khayr Alonto said in his message to participants during the recently held forum in this city.

He said, “in uplifting our communities, war and violence will no longer be an option for Mindanao. We will deliver peace in parallel with development, by laying down the conditions for an increased access to economic opportunities, and on a level playing field.”

One way to attain this, Alonto said, is to develop areas in Mindanao that could contribute more to its growth.

“We are primarily eyeing the Mindanao Development Corridors as a mechanism to achieve an integrated and globally competitive Mindanao, and Northern Mindanao can truly be our logistics,” he added.

To date, Northern Mindanao is considered as among the most progressive regions in Southern Philippines and is a vibrant business center reaping the benefits of economic zones, heavy industries and agribusiness enterprises initiatives.

The region is part of the larger Mindanao Development Corridors, a key spatial strategy adopted by MinDA.

The corridors’ strategy aims to improve infrastructure, establish connectivity and spur the development of growth clusters within Mindanao, allowing it to achieve balanced and inclusive growth among its regions within the region’s Mindanao Business and Industrial Trade Cluster and the gateway to domestic markets in Visayas and Mindanao.

According to a World Bank report entitled Philippines’ Mindanao Jobs Report: A Strategy of Regional Development that was launched last April, unlocking Mindanao’s potential will be central to bring down poverty in the entire country.

The report came up with recommendations around three major development areas, namely, raising the productivity of Mindanao’s agriculture and fisheries sector and improving connectivity to markets; boosting human capital and social protection for the poor, and addressing the drivers of conflict and strengthening institutions in conflict-affected areas.

“The report’s recommendations speak about what the country’s policymakers and economic managers can do to unleash the energy of the private sector – the region’s industrialists, farmers, cooperatives, and agribusiness entrepreneurs – to create more jobs and economic opportunities for broad-based growth,” said Dr. Agata Pawlowska, World Bank operations manager for Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand, East Asia and Pacific, in her speech during the forum dubbed “Mindanao Today, Mindanao Tomorrow: Enabling Business for Jobs Creation.”

“Improved skills of the labor force, better power supply, simplified business regulations, and lower cost for starting a business are important to further enhance the growth prospects of Mindanao,” Pawlowska said.

Among the major programs and projects slated for implementation to improve the investment climate in the region are the Panguil Bay bridge, which will provide uninterrupted access from Cagayan de Oro and Iligan cities to Tangub, Oroquieta and Ozamiz cities and the rest of Misamis Occidental and the Zamboanga Peninsula.(

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