By Ali G. Macabalang
COTABATO CITY, Jan. 19 – Senatorial aspirant Emmanuel “Manny” Piñol has batted for “continuity” in life-enhancing thrusts and initiatives he had introduced in the administration of the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA), even as he announced setting a briefing meeting with his successor for the purpose.
Piñol and new MinDA chairperson, Secretary Maria Belen “Mabel” Sunga-Acosta, were set for a briefing conference Tuesday afternoon in Davao City in prelude to a formal turnover ceremony between them.
In the Jan. 18 meeting, Piñol said, he would “make a power-point presentation on the programs and projects” carried out during his two-year administration of the MinDA “to ensure continuity” in the agency’s operational thrusts.
“Just like runners in a race which we must win, there should be a smooth turn-over of the baton,” Piñol said in a post Monday after his successor reportedly agreed on the conduct of the meeting.
The former journalist-turned-politician and bureaucrat Piñol assumed the MinDA leadership in August 2019 after he resigned as Agriculture secretary in protest of alleged pro-oligarch provisions in the Rice Tarrifcation Law. He bowed out of MinDA last Oct. 5 to file his candidacy in the 2022 senatorial race.
MinDA was established in 2010 under R.A. 9996, replacing the Mindanao Economic Development Council or MEDCo created on March 19, 1992 through Executive Order No. 512 by President Cory Aquino. It promotes and coordinates active participation of all sectors to effect socio-economic development in Mindanao via holistic approaches.
It is envisioned as the vanguard institution providing strategic leadership in pursuing peaceful, integrated and globally competitive Mindanao and ensuring that sustainable development fruits are equitably enjoyed by culturally-diverse, empowered and united Mindanawons, according to an official narrative.
Beyond geographical border
While MinDA is focused on Mindanao, the Piñol administration had linked up with government units in Metro Manila, Luzon and Visayas in building market networks for products from and tourism potentials in Southern Philippines.
The agency promotes cohesive planning and implementation of all development dimensions in Mindanao, although former Sec. Piñol gave impetus to developing a strong faming base and value chain in pursuit of the country’s being an agriculture nation.
The Piñol administration had gained mileage in introducing solar-powered irrigation systems to enhance production in untapped or less-producing agriculture lands in Mindanao, making a traditionally poor Taraka town in Lanao del Sur in the Bangsamoro region as the country’s “first model” for the new stride.
It pursued a greening program in Mindanao, encouraging planting of giant bamboos, fruit trees and other plants that would address the climate change and at the same time generate additional income for residents.
It coupled its stride for national and regional rice sufficiency with unprecedented efforts for backyard gardening in less productive communities, including the town of Pagalungan in Maguindanao where it completed last November a first of its kind “derby” on vegetable planting.
In bigger ventures like the solar-based irrigation and waterworks systems, the Development Bank of the Philippines joined the MinDA by providing modest loans to recipient communities and opening automated teller machines kiosks in Lanao del Sur towns that have remained bank-less for age.
Building agriculture-based enterprises could be an avenue to end an age-old practice of reliance to internal revenue allotments (IRAs) by many local government units in Mindanao, Piñol once said.
Of similar dynamism
Chairperson Mabel Sunga-Acosta is also known for dynamic public service similar to former Sec. Piñol’s, according to Dr. Adrian Tamayo, chief of the MinDA’s communications and public affairs department.
Like Piñol, Sec. Sunga-Acosta was a longtime media practitioner, co-hosting for sometime the “Gikan Sa Masa, Para Sa Masa” radio program in Davao City with then Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte.
Sunga-Acosta’s fame in her broadcast career earned for elections as top notch member of Davao City’s legislature, representing the first Congressional district in 2001, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2016, and 2019.
She delivered a privilege speech on January 11 to bade “farewell” from the city legislative council as she announced her receipt of her appointment as MinDA secretary from President Duterte four days earlier.
An active member of the Hukbong Pagbabago Party of now Vice Presidential aspirant Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, Sunga-Acosta obtained in 2015 a Career Executive Service (CES) title, and received the Career Executive Service Very Innovative Person (CES VIP) award in 2019. (AGM)
(Attached is a fused photo frame of new MinDA Chairperson Mabel Sunga-Acosta and Manny Piñol.)