Drilon: SPDA redundant, hasn’t brought progress
The senate is looking to abolish the Southern Philippines Development Authority (SPDA) after noting that it duplicates the functions of other agencies tasked with overseeing and promoting economic development in Mindanao.
Senate finance chair Franklin Drilon said the SPDA “has been existing for several years but has failed to produce substantial progress in achieving development goals in Mindanao despite continuous subsidies from the national government.”
Drilon said other departments and agencies, including the National Economic and Development Authority, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Mindanao Development Authority, Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, Department of Social Welfare and Development, and local government units were already involved in development efforts in Mindanao.
The SPDA was created by Presidential Decree No. 690 during the Marcos regime to engage in various development projects in conflict-affected areas and communities. It was deactivated in 2002.
In 2006, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo reactivated the agency through an executive order to pursue development efforts in Mindanao following the 1996 peace pact between the government and the Moro National Liberation Front.
The SPDA is asking for P59 million in subsidy for 2012.
Of this amount, about P38 million is earmarked for feasibility studies of locally funded projects such as a commercial complex, the creation of the Mindanao special economic zone, and business centers.
Drilon objected to the proposed outlay for the studies in a recent budget hearing of the finance committee.
“If you wish to conduct a feasibility study, source it out of your corporate funds,” Drilon told the SPDA representatives.
“You are a GOCC. You are not supposed to continuously burden the national budget [for a] subsidy because you are supposed to be operating the assets belonging to the people and for which you are supposed to derive profit and support your operations,” he said. A GOCC is a government-owned or -controlled corporation.
Drilon noted that for this year, the SPDA expects revenues of only P183,000, or a return rate of 1.5 percent from the P13.4 million it had invested in fishponds.
The SPDA is also engaged in a P12.8-million reforestation project covering 200,000 hectares in Kabalukan, Maguindanao, which was started in 2009 and should be completed by 2014.
Since it was created, the agency has also been tasked with developing some 26,000 hectares to help Mindanao rebel returnees rejoin the mainstream. The project never prospered.
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