House panel seeks budget hike for Mindanao

MANILA The House of Representatives' committee on Mindanao affairs is seeking for a substantial budget increase for Mindanao in 2019.

In a press conference on Wednesday, committee chairman Maximo Rodriguez said a realistic target of 20 to 21 percent of the national budget could be allotted for Mindanao next year.

Citing a study conducted by the Congressional Policy and Budget Research Department, Rodriguez said around 16.2 percent of the 2018 national budget was allocated for Mindanao. For previous years ?20142017, the average share was only 12.8 percent.

"It is our appeal to all our departments that Mindanao should receive its fair and equitable share of the national budget due to the 40 percent poverty incidence, the highest in the country; a growing population of 26 million which is onefourth of the Philippine population; for the development of the island's potential as the country's food basket; and for peace to finally be achieved due to increase economic or socioactivities to uplift (people's lives from) poverty," Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez noted that among the departments which have very low budget for Mindanao were: Department of Transportation (1.62 percent); Department of Information and Communications Technology (1.65 percent); Department of Tourism (3 percent); Department of Interior and Local Government (3.02 percent), among others.

Meanwhile, he highlighted that among the departments which delivered comfortable percentages to Mindanao are the Department of Public Works and Highways with 31.22 percent; the Department of Education with 23.47 percent; and the Department of Social Welfare and Development at 24.67 percent.

Rodriguez said his committee created eight technical working groups to meet with different departments for the purpose of increasing Mindanao's budget.

Source: Philippine News Agency