Senator Edgardo J. Angara urged the Aquino administration to roll out more initiatives that will spur growth in rural areas.
During a dinner for Minister Choi Joong Kyung, former Korean Ambassador to the Philippines, Angara, Chair of the Congressional Commission on Science & Technology and Engineering (COMSTE), said migration from the provinces is intensifying.
“This happens while we are already experiencing problems in our mega cities like Metro Manila,” said Angara, also vice-Chair of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography. “And these challenges will only multiply if we continue to be remiss in spreading and pushing development to our countryside.”
Angara lauded Ambassador Choi for being instrumental in laying the groundwork for initial partnerships between the Philippines and Korea in establishing so-called Multi-Industry Clusters (MICs) where government, the private sector and local communities cooperate to improve agricultural productivity, increase manufacturing activity, and generate more employment opportunities for Filipinos in the countryside.
In 2011, Misamis Oriental became the first province to test-run the developmental framework. Later in the year, a memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed between the Department of Agriculture and Korea’s Ministry of Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries for the further implementation of the MIC project in the Philippines.
“If we can just push this MIC concept vigorously, then the countryside will bloom,” emphasized Angara, who is a former agriculture secretary. “The many who are poor in the countryside, especially in coastal areas, will finally be able to experience the fruits of real, long-term economic development.”
Last year, Angara filed Senate Bill 3089 which seeks to amend the Rural Bank Act of 1992 (RA 7353) to allow foreign nationals to have 40 percent ownership of rural banks and infuse foreign equity into them.
Through COMSTE, Angara also pushed for the establishment of innovation clusters—public-private partnerships (PPPs) among government, the academe and the private sector in energizing research and development (R&D) and innovation in universities outside of Metro Manila.
“I think these may just be some of the long-delayed solutions to our perpetually impoverished countryside,” stressed Angara. “While we still need to face many challenges in our urban centers, we should also expand our developmental efforts to include the country’s many rural areas.” (30)
SPEECH VIDEO: ASPEN Philippines Launch - March 28, 2012