NorMin dominates domestic trade in Q2

September 17, 2019

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/17 September) – Northern Mindanao registered 1.93 million tons in traded commodities in the second quarter of 2019 to lead all regions in domestic trade during the period, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said. The region comprises the provinces of Bukidnon, Camiguin, Misamis Occidental, Misamis Oriental and Lanao del Norte, and the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan Tailing Northern Mindanao were Central Luzon with 0.86 million tons and National Capital Region with 0.74 million tons. Calabarzon  had the lowest output (0.001 million tons). Northern Mindanao’s domestic trade outflows in the same period were valued at P18.20 billion. Central Visayas posted the biggest outflow at P19.86 billion while Davao Region’s P540 million was the lowest in the country. PSA said the total quantity of domestic trade during the second quarter this year reached 5.86 million tons, a 10% decrease from the 6.51 million tons recorded in the same quarter of 2018. Among the traded commodities, food and live animal commodities accounted for 1.74 million tons, comprising 29.7% of the total exchanged goods. This was followed by animal and vegetable oils, fats and waxes with 0.03 million tons. In terms of value, domestic trade declined to P177.50 billion in the second quarter of 2019 from the P216.29 billion total value in the same quarter last year, according to PSA It said machinery and transport equipment, valued at P64.42 billion, or 36.3% of the total value of domestic trade took the lead, followed by food and live animals (P38.97 billion) and manufactured goods classified chiefly by material (P18.48 billion). In terms of inflow value of goods, or the total value of commodities that goes into a region, Caraga recorded the highest in the country with P33.44 billion. Central Visayas (P30.70 billion) and Western Visayas (P22.85 billion) came in second and third highest, respectively. (Antonio L. Colina/MindaNews)

Soon in Mindanao: Nikki Gomez’ third book, “Through the Years, Gently”

September 15, 2019

 From “Coffee and Dreams on a Late Afternoon: Tales of Despair and Deliverance in Mindanao” in 2005 to “Mindanao on My Mind and Other Musings” in 2013, Davao City-based writer Rafael Miguel “Nikki” Rivera Gomez in 2019 takes us to a journey still within Davao and Mindanao but more on his reflections about life in his third book published by the University of the Philippines (UP) Press, “Through the Years Gently.” The book was released early last month and is available for 550 pesos at the bookshop at the UP Press Building in Diliman, Quezon City and at the Upper Shelf, the UP Press’ outlet at the UP Town Center along Katipunan in the same city. Arrangements are still being made to make the book available in Mindanao.   The UP Press noted that in “Coffee Dreams,” Gomez, a communications counselor,  “takes us to a Mindanao tempered by the wind of national change, from the romance of revolutions past to the euphoria of People Power, from the giddiness of globalization, to the tragedy of plunder and debasement.”   “Mindanao on My Mind” on the other hand features “nearly three decades of the author’s insights, from a quieter Davao to today’s unrelenting progress, from college theater to threatened watersheds, from old poems to unyielding Baby Boomers, from the romance of yore to the quest for peace.” “This book is as much the Mindanawon’s gaze into his eventful past as it is a journey into his hopeful future,” the blurb on the book says.   “Through the Years, Gently,” according to its blurb, is “an excursion into the author’s mind.”   Gomez, it adds, “tells his readers about how it was when the progressive Church was under attack and when small entrepreneurs dared to dream despite the uncertain times.” But the anthology “offers more intimacy as he shares the tenderness of family and the empathy in conversations.”   In one of his recent Facebook postings,  Gomez said he doesn't’ have much to share anymore and thinks he has said enough. “Writing is such a solitary thing. But I do owe this bent on my grandfather, the late, eminent Godofredo Rivera, considered the Father of Opinion Columnists in pre-war Manila. And to my aunt, Gilda Cordero-Fernando, avant-garde publisher, author, and artist. And of course, I’d always been enamored of the Martial Law women writers, e.g. Letty Jimenez-Magsanoc, Arlene Babst, Ceres Doyo, Sheila Coronel, Malou Mangahas, etc. On the pages of Panorama and WHO magazines, they’d always written the finest, bravest stories. I wish I could have had even a modicum of their literary gifts, or those of the likes of Mac Tiu, a true wordsmith, or Freddie Salanga and Pete Lacaba, who gave creative non-fiction a new meaning.”   Gomez, a graduate of MA in Peace and Development at the Ateneo de Davao University, has worked in civil society, government and the private sector. He lives and works in Davao City, and is married Aurea “Neng” Hernandez, with whom he has three children: Karla Kristina, Kevin Mikhail, and Paulo Miguel. The Gomezes spent a few years in Manila. In 1987, he joined the technical staff of the Bureau of National and Foreign Information, eventually running the office’s special operations division. Back in Davao, he worked briefly at the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for Mindanao before moving to the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Mindanao where he worked as senior aide to Paul Dominguez, and headed the office’s Communications and Public Affairs Unit from 1993 to 1996. After OPAMIN, he joined the USAID‐supported Growth with Equity in Mindanao program as its information center operations manager. In 1999, Gomez was senior editor of an Internet‐based news service jointly sponsored by Business World, the UNESCO, and the Philippine Press Institute while concurrently serving as communications adviser at the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process. As communications counselor, Gomez has provided strategic advise to large corporations such as the Southern Mindanao-based Sagittarius Mines, Inc. (2006 to 2011), and private sector-led organizations like the Philippine Business for Social Progress from 2001-2009. Gomez also contributed to the public information and advocacy efforts for the World Bank’s Mindanao Social Assessment Project in 2001 and the Mindanao Rural Development Program of the Department of Agriculture in 2002.

Murad: running a government is thrice more difficult than running a revolution

September 14, 2019

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 14 September) – Running a government is thrice more difficult than running a revolution, interim Chief Minister Ahod “Al Haj Murad” Ebrahim of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), concurent chair of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), said. Murad told MindaNews in a sitdown interview at the MILF’s Camp Darapanan on Sunday that starting a revolutionary organization was “talagang (really) very challenging” but “it has run for decades already so wala na masyadong problema” (there’s not much problem). Running a government bureuacracy, however, is “mas (more) problematic. Triple yung feeling ko. Tatlong beses” (Three times), he said. Murad has been at the helm of the BARMM since February 26, 2019 when Mujiv Hataman, then Governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) handed over the five-province, two-city regional government to Murad. But BARMM, created by Republic Act 11054 or the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, and ratified in a plebiscite early this year, covers more areas than the ARMM: plus Cotabato City and 63 villages in six North Cotabato towns. The BARMM also has a different government set-up than the ARMM as it is parliamentary in form under a presidential, unitary system. The 80-member Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) which runs the BARMM government during the three-year transition period until June 30, 2022 and which Murad heads as interim Chief Minister, was formally inaugurated on March 29 this year, in rites graced by President Rodrigo Duterte. “Your region’s future is now in your hands,” Duterte told BTA officials.   Consultative, Collective Murad admits it’s difficult to run a government because “walang experience” in governance (we don’t have experience) but he draws from their experience in the MILF as a revolutionary organization. “Leadership din ang main factor,” he said. He epxlained that within the MILF, they have “always been practising consultative and collective leadership so up to the BARMM” that is what they are following. In the early days, Murad met the Cabinet twice a week. Now, he says he meets with the Cabinet once a week and reports to the Parliament once a month. Decision-making, he says, “always comes from the Cabinet.” “We decide collectively in the Cabinet,” said Murad who lives and works in the BARMM compound on weekdays and in Camp Darapanan on weekends to attend to his other role as MILF chair.  Murad’s Cabinet is composed mostly of the MILF’s Central Committee who are also in the BTA, and those who have been with the MILF peace process for years. Government in place Half a year later, what has BARMM achieved? For Murad, “organizationally, stable na ang organization namin. We have organized all the ministries, fully functioning and then the parliament is also in place and also fully functioning. So basically the government is in place.” He said they were not able to start new programs because of budget constraints. They inherited the ARMM’s 32-billion peso budget. Next year, Murad said, the BARMM hopes to receive 70.6 B pesos block grant, inclusive of the five-billion peso Special Development Fund (SDF). RA 11054 sasy the national government “shall provide an annual block grant which shall be the share of the Bangsamoro Government in the national internal revenue tax collections of the Bureau of Internal Revenue and collections of the Bureau of Customs.” The law also mandates the national government to provide the BARMM an SDF for the “rebuilding, rehabilitation, and development of its conflict-affected communities.” The SDF is 50 billion pesos at 5 billion per year for 10 years and will be used in accordance with the Bangsamoro Deelopment Plan. Most difficult In the six-month period, Murad considers organizing the bureaucracy as “the most difficult.” “Hanggang ngayon, nahirapan pa kami. The challenge in the governance (is) we are forming a ministerial form of government which is under a Presidential unitary system. He said even the departments at the national level do not seem to understand the set-up of the Bangsamoro government. “Ginagawa nila, they are treating the (BARMM) ministries na lower unit nila” (like their lower units). “Hindi ganon” (that should not be), said Murad. The BARMM is a product of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), the peace agreement signedby government and the MILF in March 2014 to allow for a “meaningful self-governance.” Murad said these problems could have been avoided if the Inter Governmental Relations Board had been set up. The law provides for the creation of a National Government - Bangsamoro Government Intergovernmental Relations Body (IGR body) “to coordinate and resolve issues on intergovernmental relations through regular consultation and continuing negotiation in a non-adversarial manner.” The law says the IGR body “shall exhaust all means to resolve issues brought to it” while unresolved issues would be elevated to the President, through the BARMM Chief Minister. The other inter-governmental boards that are to be established are Philippine Congress–Bangsamoro Parliament Forum for purposes of “cooperation and coordination of legislative initiatives; the Intergovernmental Fiscal Policy Board which shall “address revenue imbalances and fluctuations in regional financial needs and revenue-raising capacity of the Bangsamoro Government;” the Joint Body for the Zones of Joint Cooperation, which shall formulate policies “relating to the Zones of Joint Cooperation in the Sulu Sea and Moro Gulf;” the Intergovernmental Infrastructure Development Board, which shall be responsible “for coordinating and synchronizing national and Bangsamoro infrastructure development plans;” the Intergovernmental Energy Board tasked to “resolve all matters specified in Section 36, Article XIII of this Organic Law and other energy issues referred to it by the Intergovernmental Relations Body;” and the Bangsamoro Sustainable Development Board composed of representatives from the National Government and the Bangsamoro Government to “ensure the integration and harmonization of economic, social, and environmental considerations as vital dimensions of sustainable development policy and practice in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region;” None of these IGR bodies has been set up. Names submitted Murad said they submitted to Malacanang the names of their nominees to the IGR body months ago, before the end of the third month, but government has yet to respond. He said they have nominated the members and chair of the “Mother IGR” from the side of the Bangsamoro government but the national government is still deciding on who should be there and who will chair it, “either the Executive Secretary or the Cabinet Secretary or the Secretary of Finance, si Sonny (Dominguez).” Until the “Mother IGR” is constituted, issues between the national government and the Bangsamoro government will not be resolved. He cited an instance when the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) invited the BARMM’s DPWH but Murad said, “we cannot meet now. Mag-meeting pa ang big IGR, ang Mother IGR para magkaroon ng policies.” Like ARMM Murad laments that national agencies treat the BARMM the way they treated the ARMM before. “Para kaming ARMM,” (They’re treating us like we’re ARMM). He said Senator Ralph Recto even filed Senate Resolution 30, to investigate the status of the implementation of RA 11054. The Senate Committee on Local Government headed by Senatoer Franciso Tolentino, scheduled the hearing on August 15 but on August 13 cancelled it without any explanation. Before its cancellation, Murad had written Tolentino to explain, among others, that the Senate hearing was untimely as the BARMM has been there for less than six months, that the national government itself has to account for the implementation of the Bangsamoro law and that the proper venue for what Recto wanted to find out was through the Philippine Congress – Bangsamoro Parliament Forum that Murad said should be set up immediately. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)

Bidding for Mindanao railway opens in November

September 13, 2019

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/13 September) – The Department of Transportation (DOTr) will open for bidding phase 1 of the 1,550-kilometer Mindanao Railway Project in November 2019, Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) secretary Emmanuel “Manny” Piñol announced early Friday. Piñol made the announcement after his meeting with Transportation Assistant Secretary Eymard Eje on Thursday to discuss the progress of the delayed railway project. Phase 1 will cover 102 kilometers connecting Tagum City, Davao City, and Digos City, and would have eight stations, namely: Tagum; Carmen; Panabo; Mudiang in Bunawan, Davao City; Davao Terminal; Toril; Sta. Cruz; and Digos. The government had set aside P6 billion from the 2018 General Appropriations Act for the road right of way acquisition for properties along the railway path. Piñol said the groundbreaking is expected to take place early next year. He added a group of Chinese engineering consultants is preparing the groundwork for the succeeding phases of the railway project. He asked them to “consider the coastal areas of Surigao down to Davao Occidental and Sultan Kudarat province in the railway project” as the provinces have the potential to become a major food production and tourism hubs once connected to the railway system. He said MinDA will provide the consultants “a commodity map of Mindanao to help them identify key production areas in the island.” Last July 10, the National Economic and Development Authority-Board’s Investment Coordination Committee-Cabinet Committee approved the increase in the project’s estimated cost from P35.9 billion to P82.9 billion. The increase in the budget was intended to cover the cost for the changes in the project scope including changing from a single track to dual-track railway; from diesel to electrified railway with 25 kV electrified overhead for the catenary system transmission of electrical energy to the trains wherein the wires are situated above the rails and 26 electrical multiple units; from 102 km fully at-grade railway to 100 km railway with viaduct for the 26-km elevated portion; and addition of the satellite depot in Davao City aside from the main depot to be located in Tagum City. The DOTr, which expected to complete the project by 2022, projected that the daily ridership of the Tagum-Davao-Digos segment to increase to 134,060 once it becomes operational. It projected the daily ridership to further increase to 237,023 by 2032 and 375,134 by 2042. It said the railway’s first segment will reduce travel time from Tagum City, Davao del Norte to Digos City, Davao del Sur from 3.5 hours to 1.3 hours once it starts operating in 2022. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)

Revival of Davao-Manado air linkage set on Sept. 27

September 12, 2019

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 12 Sept) – A year after the signing of a written statement between the Philippines and Indonesia promoting the reestablishment of the Davao City-Manado air connectivity, Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) assistant secretary Romeo Montenegro said on Thursday that the air linkage will be revived on September 27.  “Yes, we are working with the Consulate for the program and business meetings of arriving Indonesian delegation,” he said in a text message.  On September 1, 2018, Philippine Ambassador to Indonesia Leehiong T. Wee and Indonesian Ambassador to the Philippines Sinyo Harry Sarundajang signed a written statement to promote the reestablishment of the air route. It was witnessed by Transportation Undersecretary for Aviation Manuel Antonio L. Tamayo at the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia in Makati City. Both Ambassadors Wee and Sarundajang agreed to promote the revival of the defunct route to increase trade, tourism, and investment between the two countries. The statement said the “Air Transport Agreement” signed between the Philippines and Indonesia on March 24, 1972, to enhance the mutually beneficial economic relations and people-to-people contact stemming from centuries-old ties of both nations. A subsequent memorandum of understanding (MOU) on the expansion of air linkages between and among Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines was also signed in 2007 where Davao and Manado had been identified as designated points. MinDA public relations head Adrian Tamayo said the revival of the Davao-Manado route “further strengthens the economic cooperation between Mindanao and North Sulawesi, Indonesia, spurring more investments and tourism activities as travel is made cheaper.” He added the revival also signals for an increasing demand for “halal foods and halal restaurants” and presents an opportunity for business and investment. Representatives from the MinDA met with Indonesian officials, including Vice Consul Ely Handayani of the Indonesian Consulate-Davao, to discuss the progress of the Garuda Airlines’ Davao-Manado maiden flight. The expected passengers for its first flight to Davao are high ranking officials and local government leaders, travel agents, and some businessmen from Manado, North Sulawesi. The air route has been identified as a priority in the air transport and tourism strategic pillar of Brunei Darussalam Indonesia Malaysia and Philippines East Asian Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA), a 25-year-old sub-regional economic cooperation initiative in Southeast Asia designed to spur economic development in the lagging sub-economies. BIMP-EAGA was founded in 1994 in Davao. Its focus areas include the entire sultanate of Brunei Darussalam; the provinces of Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Maluku, West Papua and Papua in Indonesia; the states of Sabah and Sarawak and the federal territory of Labuan in Malaysia; and Mindanao and the province of Palawan in the Philippines. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)

Survey of poor households in Region 11 to start next month

September 10, 2019

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/10 September) – The survey for the third “Listahanan” or the National Housing Targeting System in Davao Region will start next month, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)-11 said. The survey will determine where and who the poor households are in the 49 cities and municipalities of the region. DSWD-11 regional field coordinator Elvie G. Bahinting said the results of the survey will determine the beneficiaries of the Conditional Cash Transfer program or the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program of DSWD and of the social services of the other national government agencies, civil service organizations and local government units. She said the agency will train 1,905 field workers and encoders starting early October to prepare them for the field visits, including the far-flung areas identified by the LGUs as poor communities. However, she added they are closely coordinating with municipal governments and the Department of Interior and Local Government to know if it is safe for their workers to enter the conflict-affected areas. “We don’t want to put the lives of our field workers at risk. We are in close coordination with DILG. If in case, the DILG or the LGU will say that although that area is considered hotspot area but safe for our enumerators, we will go there. We also respect decision of the LGU if they will say we cannot go there because it’s risky for our field workers,” she said. The field workers are eyeing to cover 834,729 poor households. A bigger portion came from Davao City with 190,095 or 22.77%. In identifying the poor households, she said the field workers have 52 indicators with 139 variables. “Basically, what they look for is the socio-economic condition of the household, composition, and indicators of the social protection services received by households,” Bahinting added. She said the validated results of the Listahanan will come out in August 2020. In a briefer released by the DSWD-11, the specific objectives of the Listahanan include formulating unified criteria for the identification of the poor population through scientific means; facilitating the sharing of high quality database to public and private agencies; and ensuring the cost efficiency of social protection programs y reducing leakage and under coverage. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)


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