Duterte to transfer DA, DENR HQs to Mindanao
DAVAO CITY—The team of Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano will make the bold move of transfering the government’s agriculture and environment departments from Metro Manila to Mindanao, if they win in May.
“It’s about time to give the island its due,” Cayetano said, addressing a rally in Tagum over the weekend.
This is in recognition of Mindanao’s role as the country’s food basket and the decades of official neglect it has suffered, he said.
The Duterte-Cayetano tandem is also eyeing the transfer of the Department of Energy to Mindanao.
Mindanao accounts for at least 34 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, and 44 percent of the national food trade, according to government data. Mindanao’s coconut industry alone accounts for 64 percent of total Philippine production.
As of May 2013, Mindanao was a key driver of the minerals industry as it hosts 20 of the 38 operating metallic mines in the country. The island accounts for 80 percent of the national total deposits of copper, nickel and gold.
Fermin Adriano, a Mindanao policy adviser of former President Fidel V. Ramos, welcomed the idea of moving the DA central office to Mindanao but expressed reservation about transferring the energy and the environment departments. He said the latter two departments need to be in Luzon because of the country’s growing environment and energy problems.
The relocation of the DA is fine because Mindanao agriculture represents 38 percent of the Philippine agricultural output, Adriano said. But it may be more prudent to appoint a secretary or an undersecretary from Mindanao for the energy and environment portfolios, he said.
Marriz Agbon, founding chair of the Mindanao Business Council, also pointed out that 70 percent of the Philippine power market is in Luzon.
“We’re talking here of industries and other large power-consuming businesses,” said Agbon, formerly national focal person of the National Convergence Initiative for Sustainable Rural Development and a former member of the National Renewable Energy Board.
Agbon said bringing the other key departments to the South will be good for Mindanao.
Other businessmen said that with Mindanao contributing 30 percent of national food trade and producing eight out of the top 10 agriculture export commodities, relocating the DA office to Mindanao makes a lot of sense.
Agbon said eliminating the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM), part of a reform package under the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira) of 2001, will have a tremendous impact on the Philippine power industry.
“In Mindanao, it will do well for government to pursue a distributed energy policy environment wherein distribution utilities are encouraged to develop or solicit power projects in accordance with their respective projections of local economic development,” she said.
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