NEDA flags ‘social costs’ of Mindanao secession

Philippine Tribune
Philippine Tribune

By TED CORDERO, GMA Integrated News

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) raised concerns on calls for Mindanao to separate from the Philippines.

“I think more than the economic cost, it’s actually the social cost,” NEDA Undersecretary Rosemarie Edillon said at the Saturday News Forum in Quezon City.

Social costs are the ill effects on people, society, or the environment resulting from economic or political activity.

Edillon said that while the Philippines could always have trade relations with Mindanao, the social cost would be significant if it became a separate territory.

“Well, in terms of economic arrangements, trade agreements… we can do trade with Mindanao… but the cost of doing business will be higher,” she said.

“We also do not want a situation where, when we go to Mindanao, we need to secure a visa or passport,” she added.

The NEDA official also said that calls to separate Mindanao would affect investors’ appetite.

“For those wanting to put up a business… whether foreigner or local, it’s always looking for the future so they would be on a ‘wait and see’,” she added.

Nonetheless, Edillon echoed President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s statement that calls for Mindanao’s secession were “doomed to fail.”

Marcos said secession was “anchored on a false premise, not to mention a sheer constitutional travesty.”

“Just like what the President said, it’s doomed to fail… you need popular support. What is the economic rationale for this? It needs to be discussed thoroughly,” the NEDA official said.

According to Edillon, Mindanao contributes 16% to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).

However, some of the poorest regions in the country, such as the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (BARMM), are in Mindanao.

The poorest provinces, namely Basilan and Tawi-Tawi, were also in Mindanao.

Edillon said even BARMM, which is an autonomous political entity, recognizes that its social and economic ties intertwined with the Philippines.

It was former President Rodrigo Duterte who floated the idea of separating Mindanao from the country through a process based on gathering signatures.

Duterte has been actively criticizing Marcos after former senator Antonio Trillanes IV said last month that investigators from the International Criminal Court (ICC) had already conducted interviews in the Philippines regarding their investigation of the former president’s drug war.

Amid Duterte’s call for Mindanao’s secession from the Philippines, BARMM Chief Ahod Ebrahim expressed support for the Marcos administration and the implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB). The CAB paved the way for the creation of the BARMM.

On the same day, the governors of Tawi-Tawi, Basilan, Lanao del Sur, and Maguindanao affirmed their commitment to achieving “full-scale development” of the provinces under their jurisdiction.

Established in 2019, the BARMM was created under the Bangsamoro Organic Law, replacing the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. It is composed of the provinces of Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi and 63 barangays of North Cotabato. — DVM, GMA Integrated News

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