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BIMP-EAGA key to boosting Mindanao’s trade under the New Globalization

November 4, 2019

THE Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA), a subregional economic cooperation in Southeast Asia, can help Mindanao reap the fruits of the so-called New Globalization. This was emphasized by Mindanao Development Authority’s (MinDA) Deputy Executive Director Romeo Montenegro at the Fifth Mindanao Policy Research Forum (MPRF) held in General Santos City recently. The BIMP-EAGA covers the entire sultanate of Brunei Darussalam; Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Maluku, and Papua in Indonesia; the federal states of Sabah and Sarawak and the federal territory of Labuan in Malaysia, and Mindanao and Palawan in the Philippines. Established in 1994, the BIMP-EAGA was formed to “spur economic development in the lagging subeconomies” by narrowing the development gaps among its member-states. Despite being located in different countries, one of BIMP-EAGA’s advantages is the close proximity of its focus areas. As the world sees developments under the New Globalization unfold, Montenegro said that the BIMP-EAGA’s characteristics can potentially boost trade in the subregion which, eventually, can help Mindanao develop. “BIMP-EAGA, as an economy, accounts for one fifth of the total [gross domestic product] of ASEAN. Ganun kalaki ang economy ng BIMP-EAGA,” Montenegro said. He also claimed that BIMP-EAGA sees its strength in terms of being “a major food basket” as well as having the world’s richest biodiversity areas. With many common characteristics among the four member-states, Montenegro said many have wondered how the Philippines, particularly Mindanao, can stand out. “Ang daming nag-comment, ‘What do we trade across borders? We generally provide and produce the same thing.’ We’re not looking at trading the same thing, we are looking at complementation [of products],” he narrated, adding that Mindanao can look at producing goods and products that are needed in other member-states. Furthermore, Mindanao can also look at participating in the global value chain through its agriculture sector, which according to Montenegro, can “create a dent in terms of reducing poverty in the region”. “Sumasakay ka sa iyong Innova—Toyota, which is a Japanese brand, but with some parts being assembled in Indonesia, rubbers in Thailand, and other electronic [parts] in several other countries. That is because of the ASEAN production network,” Montenegro explained. “In the case of Mindanao, we don’t want to compete with CALABARZON in producing semiconductors and electronic products—that is not our strength. Our strength is in the agri sector—where 40 percent of the country’s food trade come from and where 60 percent of jobs created in Mindanao are related to the agriculture value chain,” he added.   Importance of connectivity The promising future of Mindanao under the BIMP-EAGA will only be possible if the region’s connectivity—transportation and communication—to other member-states is improved, Montenegro emphasized. He urged the national government to provide the necessary infrastructure support to Mindanao, lamenting the minimal financial resources allocated to the region. “Up until today, we are only getting 12 percent of the national budget. [For] the Department of Transportation budget alone, 90 percent is in Luzon [while] only 3 percent is allocated to Mindanao. At least, [with the] Department of Public Works and Highways, 40 percent of the annual public works budget is already allocated to Mindanao,” Montenegro said. He noted, however, that with the creation of the BIMP-EAGA Vision of 2025, “around USD 21 billion worth of projects were identified” with half of it accounting for infrastructure projects in Mindanao and Palawan. The MPRF is a regular event jointly undertaken by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) and MinDA, in partnership with a local university. This year, PIDS and MinDA collaborated with Mindanao State University-GenSan campus. Launched in 2015, the MPRF is part of a series of activities organized every September to celebrate the Development Policy Research Month.

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IDPs offer prayers for Christians died in Marawi's ground zero

November 4, 2019

MARAWI City--More than a thousand of Meranaws, including internally displaced persons (IDPs) and religious leaders gathered last Friday (November 1) on an open ground inside the ground zero referred to by the government as most affected area (MAA) in Marawi City, to perform the congregational Friday prayer or Jumaat prayer. Musa Sultan, president of Saksi Islamic Radio Forum that organized the prayer dubbed as "Saksi Prayer for Peace", said one of their intentions is to include in their prayers those hostages who died during the Marawi siege, especially the Christians whose families are remembering them in observance of All Soul's Day in November 2. "Kami po, male or female, praying here in the most affected area, kung sino man ang (namatay at) nalibing dito, Christian man o Muslim, ipagdadasal namin kay Allah na bigyan ng blessings," Sultan said. The government said more than a thousand died during the siege. More than a hundred are members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), some were civilians who got trapped and were being kept hostage while the most number was believed to be fighters of the terrorist group. Remembering the dead The families of atleast ten construction workers who died in the hands of the terrorists who held them hostaged were planning to visit the Maqbara cemetery in Barangay Papandayan Caniogan and in the MAA to light candles and offer flowers in time for Undas, the Catholic faithful's way of remembering the dead loved ones. The Maqbara is the only public cemetery in Marawi which was only opened during the siege to bury the more than 200 unidentified cadavers retrieved at the ground zero while the war was ongoing and even after the siege, when the demolition and clearing operation has started. The plan was not pushed through after realizing they have to take advantage on the demand of flower supply of her clients according to Evelyn Powao, wife of one of the construction workers who was killed during the siege. Prayers for their return The Jumaat prayer last Friday was the first ever inside the MAA since after the siege in 2017. The main objectives of the Jumaat is to pray to Allah that they will be allowed to return to their respective area inside the ground zero so that they can start repairing or reconstructing their houses which was destroyed during the war. Housing Secretary Eduardo del Rosario, in a press briefing on October 17 to commemorate the second year of Marawi liberation, said residents of sectors 1 to 6 in the MAA, can start reconstructing their houses provided they comply requirements such as building permit and clearances for power and water connections. But Hadji Abdul Gapor, an Imam of Lake View transitory shelter in Barangay Boganga, said there are houses in the MAA which are not yet totally destroyed and only need repairs. "Sana, iyun ay pabalikin na," Gapor said. The Meranaws also prayed for lasting peace in Marawi City and Lanao del Sur. Mara Macarambon said the prayer could also be the beginning of a "harmonious relationship between the military and the constituents of Marawi". "Ang presence ng military dito (in Marawi) is very important especially in the present situation kaya lang meron po tayong cultural sensitivity," Macarambon said.

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DPWH inspects schools in Iligan City following the series of quakes

November 4, 2019

ILIGAN City--The Department of Public Works and Highways-Lanao del Norte 2nd Engineering District has inspected on Wednesday (October 30), eight schools in Iligan City after the magnitude 4.2 quake that hit Iligan on Tuesday, October 29. Engineer Al Sanguila, chief of Maintenance Section of DPWH-LN2 District, said the engineering section of the Department of Education requested the inspection to determine the structural integrity of the school buildings within the Iligan Division. These schools are the following: Buruun National School of Fisheries and Sgt. Canoy Elementary School in Barangay Buruun; Suarez National High School in Barangay Suarez; Tomas Cabili National High School-Annex in Barangay Sta. Elena; Iligan City Central School and Iligan City National High School in Poblacion; Tambo Elementary Central School in Hinaplanon; and Bagong Silang Central School in Barangay Bagong Silang. The five-year old school in Sta. Elena was built purposely for the children, who are survivors of tropical storm Sendong in 2011, living in Bayanihan Village, a relocation site for Sendong survivors. During the Marawi siege in 2017, displace learners from the Islamic city enrolled at Tomas Cabili NHS-Annex after their family lived in the relocation site according to the school head, Rebecco Omlero. Omlero said, 20% of the schools present enrollment is composed of displaced learners from Marawi. "I immediately reported the cracks to the division office and it was then reported to the DPWH. A day after, the DPWH arrived for inspection. The (DPWH) said it is only minor crack and not advisable for evacuation yet," Omlero said, referring to a two-story building, in an interview on Friday. They are, however, praying that there will be no more stronger shakes so that the cracks will not be triggered. The ground floor is occupied by the two sections of grade 7 while the second level is a conference room. Aside from hairline cracks on the wall, some parts of the building has been realigned. Engr. Al Sanguila, chief of Maintenance Section the DPWH-LN2 DEO, said analysis to the information gathered from the schools will be done after the inspection. "This (the analysis) will be done to ensure the safety of the students and the school buildings itself," Sanguila said.

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Hotel guests get out naked as quake shakes Cagayan de Oro

October 29, 2019

CAGAYAN de Oro City - An intensity 6 quakes shook this seaport capital about 9:05 Tuesday morning, sending naked hotel guests scrambling out of the hotel. An aftershock took place 10:45 a.m., an hour after the quake, which sent more people to get out of their homes, hotels, and shopping malls. A shopping mall was closed as all shoppers and workers were sent outside following the aftershock while safety officials were clearing the building. Except for the two unidentified women who collapsed in the hotel, but later recovered after undergoing emergency treatment in a responding ambulance nearby, no injuries were reproted. Hotel guests from China, South Korea, Caucasians and other foreign guests gathered outside of a downtown hotel as safety and rescue officials inspect the integrity of the hotel building. A call center located in a downtown mall here was closed after safety officials found cracks and debris in the building. Students and pupils went out of their classrooms and gathered in an open space in the school compound – others were fetched by their parents. Disaster officials scrambled as emergency sirens were sounded to warn city residents for sobriety as safety engineers were dispatched to inspect possible damage of public and private buildings in the city.

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Body of slain Clarin town mayor arrives home

October 29, 2019

CLARIN, Misamis Occidental--The remains of Clarin town Mayor David Navarro is now laid at his residence in Barangay Lapasan here. The white coffin, draped with the national flag, arrived at Ozamiz City port past 6:30 in the morning, Sunday (October 27), two days after the mayor was slain in Cebu City while being transported to the city prosecutor's office for the inquest proceedings of the charges he is facing for mauling a masseur. In a hall decorated with white fresh flowers, floors covered with green mat, the remains was placed besides Navarro's blown up photo in a frame. The family asked for an exclusive time until 12:00 noon and visitors started to arrive. Bonifacio town mayor Samson Dumanjog, who is also the president of the League of Municipalities in the Philippines -Misamis Occidental chapter, was the first to visit the wake. In an interview with the media, Dumanjog said the death of his fellow mayor is still very hard to accept. He is hoping that justice for the slain mayor will be served and called on concerned agencies to help in the investigation. "Atleast mahatagan pud nato ang pamilya (ug tabang pagkuha sa hustisya) kay mao man pud ni ilang gikinahanglan. Ug kanang due process of law," Dumanjog said in interview with the media. The Navarro family has scheduled the burial on November 3 just beside their house.

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Vice mayor takes oath as new Clarin town mayor

October 29, 2019

CLARIN, Misamis Occidental--The municipal vice mayor of Clarin took her oath 4 p.m. on Friday (October 25), two hours after Mayor David Navarro died in an ambushed while he was being transported to the city prosecutor's office in Cebu for the inquest of his act of lasciviousness and physical assault charges. Emeterio Roa Jr., head of the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, said Vice Mayor Glorife Roa, her mother, took oath before a judge from Ozamiz City. On Monday (October 28), the municipal's first councilor, Mel Davidson Navarro, will take his oath as the vice mayor. Mel is David's second child whose elder brother died in a suicide last year. Mel took the position vacated by his brother. In 2019 elections, Mel ran and won. The younger Roa, who spoke with the media in behalf of the new mayor, said there three priorities that the new administration will undertake on Monday. Glorife will issue an executive order designating Emeterio as the new municipal administrator and an order that only wages and salaries shall be disbursed while the local government unit is still undergoing a transition period. "Then our new mayor will meet the heads of office to start our work. While we mourn the passing of Mayor Navarro, we have to continue the operation in the municipal hall," Emeterio said.

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