Press Release
January 16, 2016


Leading presidential aspirant Sen. Grace Poe vowed to give a bigger chunk of national budget to Mindanao and create more economic opportunities in the region, which has the highest poverty incidence in the country.

Poe, who was in Davao Oriental on Monday, said peace and development in Mindanao would be her priority if elected.

"Mindanao is my priority. Just like any parent would prioritize a child that has more needs, I believe that the government needs to invest more in Mindanao and give it more development projects. Growth must be inclusive and must leave no one behind," said Poe, a frontrunner in presidential preference surveys.

Hunger incidence in Mindanao was at 13 percent for the fourth quarter of 2015, according to pollster Social Weather Stations, with some 658,000 families experiencing hunger.

The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao remains the poorest among all regions, with nearly half of its population living below the poverty threshold, according to a 2012 survey by the National Statistical Coordination Board. It also listed 10 Mindanao provinces among the 16 poorest provinces in the country, with Lanao del Sur having a poverty incidence of 67.3 percent.

Also included in the bottom poor cluster are Maguindanao, Zamboanga del Norte, Saranggani, North Cotabato, Bukidnon, Lanao del Norte, Camiguin, Sultan Kudarat and Sulu.

"Most of the lowest-ranked provinces in Mindanao are conflict-ridden," Poe pointed out.

"This is why achieving genuine and sustained peace is important, because progress and development could not exist where there is conflict. There must be a consultation wherein all indigenous and armed groups are represented," she said.

Poe and her running mate, Sen. Francis "Chiz" Escudero, want to allocate 30 percent of the national budget to develop Mindanao, particularly its infrastructure, so that the region can catch up with the country's economic momentum and build on its potential as a tourist destination.

"Let us give Mindanao what is due them. It's been neglected for so long. People in Mindanao deserve the same support and attention that people in Metro Manila or Luzon are getting, if not even more," Poe said.

Mindanao's vast potentials for agriculture and agri-business must also be explored, according to Poe. She said laying down improvements on these industries will lead to the creation of more jobs.

Fast-tracking the construction of more power plants to address the power problem is also a priority.

"Ang kailangan sa Mindanao ay buhusan ng development projects at bigyan ng tamang pagbabantay," Poe said.

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