Biz leaders expect 4th SONA to focus on Mindanao’s needs

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DAVAO CITY–Mindanao’s business leaders said they expect Mindanao’s development to take center stage when President Rodrigo R. Duterte delivers his State of the Nation Address (SONA) 2019 on Monday (July 22).

Mindanao Business Council (MinBC) chairman Vicente Lao said he also hopes the completion of the Mindanao Railway System (MRS) during the term of President Duterte. The Mindanao Railway System is a 2,000-kilometer railway with two segments that will connect various provinces in Mindanao.

Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA) Executive Director Stephen Antig said he expects the SONA to emphasize support for agriculture, especially on the export sector.

Antig said the banana industry hopes government action on tariffs, as well as other assistance such as subsidies in terms of farm inputs. He also hopes for the removal if not the reduction of some government fees.

Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (DCCCII) president Arturo Milan said local businesses want to see the implementation this year of the government’s flagship projects in the countryside.

Aside from the Mindanao Railway, Milan said focus should also be given to the Davao Airport Modernization Project, the Davao Samal Connecting Bridge project, and other big-ticket projects in Mindanao.

“I wish the President good health so he will finish his term and complete his plans for the country and for the Filipino people,” he added.

Meanwhile, Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) chair Nathaniel Dalumpines said he is optimistic the President’s SONA on Monday would focus on Mindanao’s peace and development initiatives.

“We are also looking forward to hearing directives from the President that will effect a long-term and inclusive development for Mindanao,” he said.

He particularly cited the President’s ongoing support for the revival of barter trading between our island-provinces and their counterparts in the BIMP-EAGA (Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asean Growth Area).

Dalumpines said based on the highlights from the Pre-SONA fora conducted this month, the Duterte administration remains to be focused on providing a comfortable life for every Filipino by providing more jobs and opportunities, prioritizing catalytic infrastructure projects, and bringing development closer to the countryside. –PNA

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