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Mindanao Corridors strategy receives $100M in ADB funding

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Asian Development Bank (ADB)

DAVAO CITY — The Mindanao Development Corridors strategy, with the south-central Mindanao area and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) as pilot sites, will receive $100 million worth of funding from the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

Undersecretary Janet M. Lopoz, Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) executive director, said the funds will “complement our efforts to attract and retain more inclusive investment in Mindanao.”

“When we embark on this administration’s agenda for Mindanao, we are looking at holistic and sustainable development with dimensions on peace and security, human development, governance, and social cohesion,” Ms. Lopoz told BusinessWorld in an e-mail interview.

“Public investment in infrastructure, economic growth, and ultimately, poverty reduction come hand in hand in ushering sustainable development,” she said.

ADB-Philippines Principal Country Specialist Joven Z. Balbosa, in an interview with BusinessWorld during a visit to Davao City last month, said the $100-million allocation is intended to help address the public investment gaps “cutting across local government, across regions that really matter for growth.”

He said ADB is looking at sustainable and consistent inter-regional programs that need larger investments.

“Right now,” he explained, “government agencies and local governments have different priority programs, but what the bank will do is come up with inter-regional mechanisms.”

“The project supports the government’s national spatial strategy, which recognizes the comparative advantages of cities and municipalities and seeks to address spatial and socioeconomic inequalities by linking lagging regions with economic growth centers,” ADB said in a statement.

Ms. Lopoz said under the Development Corridors strategy, government investments will be focused on improving ports and airports or developing new ones.

Ms. Lopoz said among the key projects are the development of the Polloc Port in the ARMM, the “aerotropolis” in the cities of Tagum and General Santos (GenSan), and the improvement of the Davao International Airport (DIA) in Davao City.

The Polloc port, she explained, will serve as a “major gateway in central Mindanao, providing transport and logistics support to the ARMM Regional Economic Zone and will be the main gateway for the proposed Bangsamoro region.”

The Tagum and General Santos aerotropolis projects are mixed-use facilities around airports that would “serve the growing air traffic to and from Mindanao,” Ms. Lopoz said.

The United States Agency for International Development is providing technical assistance to MinDA in preparing the conceptual plan for the General Santos aerotroplis project around the current airport.

“This is really all about bringing progress closer to the people, through connectivity infrastructure. You see, if we want to invite more investors to Mindanao, then we also need to ensure that all the logistics and connectivity infrastructure are in place in order to make these investments stay and flourish,” Ms. Lopoz said.

The other zones of the Corridors approach are the Northern Mindanao Development Corridor and the Western Mindanao Development Corridor.

In Northern Mindanao, the government has lined up the improvement of the Laguindingan International Airport and the construction of the Panguil Bay Bridge.

In Western Mindanao, a new Zamboanga International Airport is planned and Ms. Lopoz said the feasibility study for the project is ongoing. — Carmelito Q. Francisco