By Chino S. Leyco
The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), the country’s premier socio-economic planning body, highly regarded as the authority in macroeconomic forecasting and policy analysis and research, said the ongoing unrest in Lanao del Sur is a “serious crisis” situation and its impact on the economy would largely depend on how things pan out.
Socio-economic Planning Secretary and NEDA Director-General Ernesto M. Pernia said this in a statement even as he said that the country’s overall economy has remained resilient.
He urged for a quick resolution to the Mindanao crisis stressing that threats to security derail progress and impact on the quality of life of Mindanaoans.
The terrorist Maute Group attacked Marawi City Tuesday last week prompting President Duterte to declare Martial Law in Mindanao.
“We trust the President and his security officials to do what has to be done to restore peace and order and protect our fellow Filipinos in the South,” Pernia said in a statement. NEDA provides high-level advice to policymakers in Congress and the Executive Branch.
Pernia has emphasized that economic growth cannot be sufficiently sustained nor be inclusive without peace. Thus, achieving peace, security and public order is considered a bedrock strategy under the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2017-2022.
Nonetheless, he said, the economy remains stable given its strong fundamentals.
NEDA is hopeful that with all the policies, programs and projects, many of which are already underway, the economy will remain resilient and will keep growing, temporary disruptions notwithstanding.
“Having the watchful eye of government forces especially in Mindanao will ease tensions and allow communities to live normally,” Pernia said.
Meantime, he said, government must continue to do what it has set out to do under the PDP, which is a holistic and comprehensive approach to bringing about inclusive development and higher quality of life for all Filipinos, wherever they are.
While Mindanao’s contribution to the country’s economy has remained relatively minor owing to past neglect, this major island region has huge potential and can be a major driver of growth in both agriculture and trade, and this is what needs to be tapped and unleashed.
“We are encouraged that agricultural production recovered in the first quarter of the year, growing by 4.9 percent following several quarters of decline,” Pernia said.
The growth in agriculture in Mindanao has been driven by high production gains for high value-crops such as sugarcane, banana, pineapple, tobacco, peanut, monggo, cassava, tomato, garlic, onion, eggplant, and rubber.
He said the PDP covers a wide range of interventions that will provide more and better opportunities for people not only in Mindanao but in the rest of the country.
“Let’s hope that peace and order challenges are quickly resolved so as not to derail the implementation of plans,” Pernia said.