PRESIDENTIAL candidate Rodrigo Duterte and his running mate Alan Peter Cayetano will transfer the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to Mindanao from Quezon City if elected, their camp said Tuesday.
Duterte said Mindanao, the country’s food basket, had been neglected for years. It must be the new home of the two departments to boost its potential and to decentralize government operations.
Fermin Adriano, former President Fidel V. Ramos’ policy adviser on Mindanao, said the transfer of the Agriculture Department’s central office to Mindanao would be a welcome development.
“The relocation of the DA would be fine because Mindanao’s agriculture represents 38 percent of the Philippines’ agricultural output,” he said.
Duterte’s backers said the Department of Energy also needed to be transferred to Mindanao.
“This is in recognition of the island’s singular role as the nation’s food basket, and the decades’ worth of official neglect despite this undisputed distinction,” Cayetano said.
But Adriano opposed the transfer of the Department of Energy and the Environment Department because they were needed in Luzon because of its growing environmental and energy problems.
Duterte said government figures showed that Mindanao accounts for at least 34 percent of the country’s gross domestic product and 44 percent of the national food trade. Its coconut industry alone accounts for 64 percent of the country’s total coconut production.
Mindanao is also a key driver of the minerals industry, with 20 of the 38 operating metallic mines representing 53 percent of the total number of mineral projects nationwide.
The island also accounts for 80 percent of the total deposits of copper, nickel and gold.
Adriano said it might be more prudent to “appoint a secretary or an undersecretary from Mindanao for the energy and environment portfolios.”
Mariz Agbon, founding chairman of the Mindanao Business Council, expressed reservation on the relocation of Energy Department since “the reality is 70 percent of the Philippine power market is in Luzon.”
“We’re talking here of industries and other large power-consuming businesses,” Agbon said.
“In the case of Mindanao, it would do well for government to pursue a distributed energy policy environment wherein distribution utilities are encouraged to develop/solicit power projects in accordance with their respective projections of local economic development.”