Basilan Solon seeks more infrastructure funding for Mindanao in the 2023 budget.
Rep. Mujiv Hataman of Basilan advocates for additional infrastructure funding for Mindanao in the envisioned 2023 federal budget.
During the budget debates in plenary on Thursday, Hataman argued against the significant reduction in infrastructure funding for Mindanao, pointing out that the nation’s southern regions have experienced extreme poverty due to previous conflicts between insurgents and government forces.
In order to combat poverty, “Malinaw sa atin na ang infrastructure ay siyang lumilikha ng trabaho at lumilikha ng income sa madaming manggagawa sa construction. It is obvious to us that infrastructure produces jobs and generates income for many workers in the construction industry. And the multiplier for this is peace and security in the places where infrastructure is being built. This makes a significant impact on the fight against poverty. Peace and security in places where infrastructure projects are being done are a multiplier of that, according to Hataman.
Hataman urged his colleague’s legislators, particularly those from Mindanao, to band together and fight for the return of the island’s infrastructure budget to the levels it had in 2022.
The amount spent on infrastructure in Mindanao was drastically reduced, falling from PHP84.69 billion in 2022 to PHP30.49 billion in 2023, a staggering PHP54.2 billion, or nearly 64%, less than the previous year.
Hataman further inquired whether the Development Budget Coordinating Committee (DBCC) took poverty incidence into account when developing the suggested national budget.
According to Hataman, Mindanao is home to four of the nation’s top five poorest regions in terms of poverty incidence, including the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (45.8%), Caraga (38.3%), Zamboanga Peninsula (37.4%), and Soccsksargen (34.1%).
Eastern Visayas, with 36%, is the other region on the list.
“My question is, is it possible to add the data from the National Expenditure Program (NEP) for 2023 to the DBCC database? I’m curious how the DBCC used this information when creating the NEP for 2023, but I’m unsure how to go about that. Rep. Stella Quimbo of Marikina, a sponsor of a portion of the proposed national budget, was questioned by Hataman. “It’s because I don’t know how we would be able to support the places that I have mentioned),” she replied.
In response, Quimbo stated that organizations have regional offices communicating input on local requirements, including information on the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) and other social welfare initiatives.
Hataman concurred that while the 4Ps approach reduces the prevalence of poverty, infrastructure projects generate a large number of employment and revenue, particularly in Mindanao’s poorer regions.
The Basilan solon stated that while every region contributes to the GDP, the amount relies on the amount of infrastructure acquired to attract private investment to the aforementioned underdeveloped regions.
“If your area has issues with law and order or inadequate infrastructure development, it has something to do with private investments,” he said. “Kung magulo ‘yung lugar mo or mahina ang imprastruktura mo, obviously may relation yun sa mga.”
Hataman emphasized the need for good collaboration with the DBCC because of its primary responsibility for researching macro assumptions using the information provided by relevant agencies.
“Alam naman nating malaki ang hinahabol ng Mindanao in terms of progress and development due to the fact that it is being entablado ng napakaraming digmaan,” the speaker said. At the same time, we realize that Mindanao has much catching up to do in terms of progress and development because it has been the scene of many conflicts. Sana naman ay buhusan ng pondo dahil maraming rehiyon dito ang nakasadlak sa kahirapan. I hope that more money would be allocated now that there is peace because poverty still affects many of these areas), “said he.
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