Interview: Anthony del Rosario

What role will the ongoing peace process in Mindanao have in furthering the immediate growth trajectory of the province?

ANTHONY DEL ROSARIO: Peace and security are essential to ensure economic and social growth. It is common knowledge that the efforts by the local leadership to achieve greater economic development is stunted by a conflict that threatens all initiatives. For example, our long-term Provincial Development Plan aims to make Davao del Norte a major economic player, particularly in the opening up of ASEAN trade. However, coping with the effect of the conflict is not easy, as it is felt by municipal cities in the province, which allocate a significant portion of their efforts and resources to minimise the effect of these problems.

It is already an accepted realisation that military approaches are not necessarily the only solution to address peace and development problems. Therefore, strengthening and expanding alternative security mechanisms is essential, and these security mechanisms now require civilian and conflict-sensitive approaches. Thus, the province makes sure that civil society organisations (CSO) are involved in many aspects of governance, including peace and order councils, and monitoring government projects and planning processes. In fact, the province’s peace, order and public safety plan was formulated by different stakeholders, particularly CSO’s. Transparency encourages people to trust the government and to actively participate in governance. This participation and support is very important for local government units in identifying, recognising and addressing legitimate peace and development issues.

In what ways is Davao del Norte working to enhance its agricultural productivity and mitigate the impact of climate change?

DEL ROSARIO: The effects of climate change have been worsening throughout the country and Davao del Norte has been no exception. Given that the province has positioned itself as a top producer of bananas and other high-value crops nationwide, it has implemented measures to minimise the disruption of weather patterns on agricultural production. For instance, we are extending crop insurance to farmers, providing seed subsidies after a disaster, introducing climate resilient varieties of rice and supplying technological support.

One of the most pressing issues for crops is flooding. To offset the effects of flooding, we have set up a task force to implement preventive measures for irrigation instead of remediation efforts, because typhoons are becoming more recurrent in Mindanao, and provinces have to adjust to deal with this new reality.

How is the provincial government promoting youth development and sports?

DEL ROSARIO: Sports promotion and expansion is at the core of provincial development plans. Our comprehensive Talent Enforcement and Identification Programme provides grassroots training in key disciplines and allows for the identification and nurturing of elite athletes, while also seeking the inclusion of indigenous peoples in the process. This programme helps to ensure continuous training for facilitators and coaches, while also supporting provincial sports associations — the main source for sports talent.

In addition to talent development, there is an opportunity to significantly raise the province’s visibility by hosting high profile sporting events. This would have a positive impact on the local economy, while also increasing tourism potential. In the same vein, the province has undertaken a complementary project for exposure in tournaments and events programme that seeks to elevate the profile of its athletes as well as the holistic organising of sports tournaments programme, which has hosted several major regional and national sports competitions, such as the Parong Pambansa and the 2016 Batang Pinoy National Championship.