Senator Robin Padilla is pushing for a bigger budget for the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) after its P510 million proposed budget for 2023 was trimmed by 69 percent.
Padilla lamented the budget allocated for MinDA. “We have seen the proposed budgets for Luzon and Visayas, and they are considerable. But for Mindanao, the budget is quite small. This is very sad,” he said.
“As you said, peace is very important. And we know the key to peace is to address the cause of chaos by ensuring equitable development,” Padilla said.
At the hearing of the Senate finance subcommittee presided by Sen. Ronald dela Rosa, MinDA Usec Janet Lopez said their original proposed budget was P510,095 million, but the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) approved only P158,958 million for next year.
“For 2023, the National Expenditure Program allotted P158.958 million for MinDA -P197.27 million lower than the agency’s budget of P38.312 million for 2022.”
Lopez told the Senate panel that the reduced budget will adversely affect the important programs and necessary operations of MinDA.
Because of this, the official said some P306.642 million in projects may go unfunded, including the Mindanao digital innovations program (P18.98 million); the expanded Mindanao economic recovery program (P20.977 million); the Mindanao River Basins Food-Energy-Water nexus program (P12.390 million); and the Mindanao Indigenous Peoples Heritage Preservation and Development Support Program (P10 million).
Lopez also noted that the budget allocated for their rental since MinDA has no permanent office, would not suffice to cover its cost for one whole year. “So we have to look for source of funds,” she said.
Quizzed by Dela Rosa where they will get the funds needed to pay rents, Lopez said they might remove other programs.
Padilla said the agency’s officials must also make representations with the DBM.
Meanwhile, Padilla hopes that there will finally be enough funds and local government support for the airport project in Mlang, Cotabato. He said it is a waste that the project has been in limbo for more than 15 years.
“It would be a waste. The airport would have been good for Central Mindanao. Progressive places have airports and seaports. Without these, the last 15 years would have been for nothing,” he said.