By Ali G. Macabalang
The Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) initiated on Wednesday the formation of an inter-agency body for government agencies and the private sector to lead Mindanao’s Economic Recovery Facilitation by addressing issues and concerns affecting the region’s return to normalcy.
MinDA Chairperson Manny Piñol hosted a virtual meeting with prospect member-entities of his council, tackling with them some perceived “bottlenecks” in the transport of goods within Mindanao and those outbound from the region.
Sec. Piñol and forum discussants also talked about the need for a cohesive Coronavirus vaccination program, means of swift processing of loans with the Development Bank of the Philippines and the Land Bank of the Philippines, and the facilitation of the marketing of goods.
The discussants collated issues and concerns, and offered solutions to facilitate the Mindanao economy recovery in the advent of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
They initially named the body as Mindanao Economic Recovery Facilitation Council (MERFC), which they hoped to make the difference in fostering efforts towards normalizing social and economic movements in the region.
Sec. Piñol coupled his meeting video clip with a photo of a long queue of motor vehicles, including cargo trucks, in a major thoroughfare in Kidapawan City ostensibly eluding highway patrol traffic enforcers.
The photo was taken by the MinDA chief’s younger brother, former Kidapawan City Vice Mayor and Congressman Jun Piñol, who has been critical of undue flogging of cargo trucks along highways.
For a constant heralding of works and advocacies in the inter-agency council, Sec. Piñol revived his long-missed broadcasting stride by hosting a weekly (every Mondays) radio program over the Catholic-run dxND in Kidapawan City.
At the Wednesday forum, the Department of Health, represented by Undersecretary Abdullah Dumama, reported that new guidelines now allow the private sector and the local government units to procure vaccines for their employees.
The massive vaccination campaign, however, has largely been concentrated in Metro Manila where COVID 19 cases have increased over the last few months, prompting the local private sectors to exert measures aimed at spurring mass vaccination in Mindanao, the MinDA said.
“With less than one million individuals, including frontline workers, inoculated by the COVID 19 vaccine in Mindanao, the issue was raised by the private sector during the first leg of the forum,” Sec. Piñol said.
The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry during the first leg of the Mindanao Economic Recovery Forum asked the government for guidelines on how to initiate a COVID vaccination program involving the LGUs and the private sector so that the economic activities could be restarted, he said.
Usec Dumama said the new guidelines now would allow LGU and private sector procurement of the vaccine but this initiative was impeded by the need to consolidate the volume of the vaccines to be imported.
He said the Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City has the capability of storing the vaccines which would be imported. AGM