Federalism can be the key to unlocking Soccsksargen’s untapped abundance of natural and mineral resources, according to the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).
“The people of Soccsksargen are literally sitting on gold, copper, and iron, but are still living in poverty because of unequitable distribution of wealth under the present system of government,” says DILG Assistant Secretary Jonathan E. Malaya.
Soccsksargen is home to the country’s metallic mineral reserves such as gold, copper, and iron, specifically in the provinces of Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, and South Cotabato.
“Imagine if the taxes go to the regional government instead of Metro Manila. If we adopt the Consultative Committee’s (Concom’s) model of federalism, the opportunities for socio-economic development are endless,” Malaya says.
He further adds that a federal setup could boost the potential of Region 12 in revenue collection as it is home to Mt. Apo, Mindanao’s major geothermal source.
Aside from power, the region has fertile soil due to the many rivers and lakes irrigating the forests and agricultural lands.
Under Concom’s proposed Bayanihan Federal Constitution, the federated regions will be entitled to a 50% share of all net revenues from the exploration, development, and utilization of all the natural resources within the territory.
Last year, Soccsksargen’s economy grew by 8.2%, faster than the 4.9% growth rate the region posted in 2016.
This was due to the recovery of its agriculture, hunting, forestry, and fishing sector.
Meanwhile, about 31 out of every 100 families in the region are poor with poverty incidence levels at 30.5 in 2015.
“With more power spread to the regional government, the economy of Soccsksargen will fly, thus generating more jobs and easing the poverty situation in the region,” says Malaya.
The DILG will be conducting its federalism roadshow in Polomolok on October 29-30, 2018 and invites the people of Region 12 to attend its Pederalismoserye town hall meeting with basic sectors and the convention/rally for federalism on the second day.