Even w/out BBL, we continue to pursue development: BDA exec

Reiterating its sincere commitment to the peace process and development, the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA) vowed to continue in ushering development to the Bangsamoro people even there is no Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

“With or without BBL, our commitment on delivering development especially in the area of Bangsamoro will continue,” Dr. Mohammad S. Yacob said in his message during the signing ceremony on Strengthening Partnership for the South-Central Mindanao Development Corridor held at Green Leaf Hotel in General Santos City last Friday.

The event’s host, Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA), signed Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) with United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

The cooperation is aimed to enhance the competitiveness of South-Central Mindanao Corridor in support to the MinDA-led Mindanao Development Corridors (MDC).

MDC’s goal is to connect a globally competitive Mindanao towards an inclusive, balanced, and sustained growth for the island region. 

 BDA has been part of the steering committee of the Small Scale Capacity Development Technical Assistance Project spearheaded by MinDA and supported by the Asian Development Bank with regard to Strengthening Institutions for Investments in Mindanao.

MDC focuses on optimizing growth of regions based on their potentials and strategic roles in the overall development of Mindanao.

It also builds on the trade and economic strengths between and among regions through improved infrastructure, connectivity, logistics, industry development and investment facilitation.  

Dr. Yacob, representing the BDA, and a representative from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) were the official witnesses of the MoC signing.

In the MDC, South-Central Mindanao region, a huge chunk of the proposed Bangsamoro area, is classified as a cluster area for food basket. 

In the formulation of the Bangsamoro Development Plan, the BDA has considered the potential of the region for agricultural production with the availability of fertile arable lands and human resources.

“Everybody needs development and no one rejects development,” Dr. Yacob pointed out. 

He related that BDA was created by the peace process through the GRP-MILF Tripoli Agreement of Peace on 2001. The two parties, Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) agreed to create a development agency mandated to determine, lead and manage relief, rehabilitation and development of conflict affected areas in Mindanao while the peace negotiation is going on.

“We need to create a venue for capacity building of the people while the peace negotiation is on the table,” Dr. Yacob stressed with hope that the political settlement for the Mindanao conflict will be achieved. 

He said the BDA commits to partner with other stakeholders for development as a manifestation of its sincerity to the peace process.

“We believe that we share the same vision for Mindanao as an area ‘not of conflict’ but of inclusive growth,” Dr. Yacob underscored.

BDA is the development arm of the MILF. With the help of local and international development institutions, the agency has been bringing development interventions to target conflict-affected areas of Mindanao through capability-building trainings for community members and establishment of infrastructure and enterprise projects. 

The BBL, which the lawmakers failed to pass in the 16th Congress, is a legal instrument that will lay down the foundation for the establishment of an autonomous Bangsamoro government with more fiscal and political powers. 

The measure is hoped to bring justice, peace and development for the Bangsamoro people.