GOVERNMENT AGENCIES involved in the development of Mindanao, the southern islands in the Philippines, on Wednesday asked the Senate for more funding as their proposed budgets for 2023 were slashed by more than 50%.
The Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA), which formulates and coordinates development plans, has been allocated P158.958 million under the 2023 National Expenditure Program.
This is lower than its P197.27 million budget this year and just about a third of its proposed P510 million funding for 2023.
“As a result of the reduced budget, this now leaves us with a lot of other important programs and expense items that are unbudgeted or unallocated. These projects are very necessary in the administration, operation and strategic coordination for the overall development of Mindanao,” Secretary Maria Belen S. Acosta, chair of MinDA, told the Senate Finance Committee hearing.
“And other than Mindanao, we are also mandated to handle coordination for the BIMP-EAGA (Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines — East ASEAN Growth Area),” she added.
Among the unfunded proposals include the Expanded Mindanao Economic Program (P20.98 million), Mindanao Digital Innovations Program (P18.98 million), Mindanao River Basins: Food-Energy-Water Nexus Program (P12.38 million), and the Mindanao Indigenous People Heritage Preservation and Development Support Program (P10 million).
The Southern Philippines Development Authority (SPDA), a government-owned and controlled corporation intended to promote balanced growth in Mindanao through economic initiatives, has been allocated P143.82 million out of its P838.89 million proposed budget.
“We have been doing well, so we should be rewarded for the job well done,” SPDA Administrator Abdulghani “Gerry” Ajul Salapuddin said, noting their accomplishments and ongoing projects.
Meanwhile, Secretary Carlito G. Galvez, Jr. of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU) said their proposed budget for several Mindanao-related programs have also been cut.
“It can be noted that the funding for our major programs were reduced in 2023,” Mr. Galvez said, citing several projects in the Bangsamoro region in Mindanao.
Senators Robinhood Ferdinand “Robin” C. Padilla and Ronald M. Dela Rosa, who both have ties to Mindanao, vowed to push for a restoration of some of the budget cuts of the agencies. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan