The development of Mindanao’s economy and infrastructure could prove to be the government’s most effective weapons against terrorism and extremism, as bringing jobs and economic opportunities to Mindanao can aid efforts to thwart attempts to radicalize youth in the region.
This according to Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, who on Wednesday said that “aside from neutralizing the current threat in Marawi, government must also look at what has to be done in the long term to prevent the radicalization of young Mindanaoans.”
The senator from Mindanao said that studies reveal that violent extremists around the world “often exploit the conditions brought about by poverty to recruit men who have very limited economic and employment prospects.”
“The discovery of over 50 million pesos in cash in a Marawi home suggests that the financial rewards of joining terrorist groups like the Maute or ASG play a role in attracting recruits to their cause,” explained Pimentel.
The Cagayan De Oro native added that he was hopeful that the resolution of the Marawi crisis and the massive infrastructure development planned in Mindanao would help attract investors to the region and, consequently, boost the economic fortunes of its people.
“Traditionally underserviced regions like Mindanao are susceptible to extremist propaganda because the perceived apathy of the state can be used by terrorists to advance their agenda,” lamented Pimentel.
“But President Duterte is a game-changer in this regard, because as the first Chief Executive from Mindanao, he is committed to marshaling the resources of our government, not just to end the threats posed by terrorism, but to rapidly develop the region’s economic potential.”
Pimentel enumerated some of the various big-ticket projects in Mindanao that would be undertaken by the Duterte Administration as part of “Dutertenomics” and what the government calls “the Golden Age of Infrastructure.”
Among these are the 32 billion-peso 2,000-km Mindanao Rail line which will connect Tagum with Davao and Digos, the 4.9 billion-peso Pangil Bay Bridge that will connect the City of Tangub in Misamis Occidental and Municipality of Tubod in Lanao del Norte, and the 80.4 billion-peso Mindanao Logistics Infrastructure Network (MLIN) that will improve the logistics infrastructure network in Northern Mindanao, Davao, SOCSKSARGEN and CARAGA.
The MLIN will enhance agribusiness competitiveness in Mindanao by developing an intermodal logistics system that will address the constraints caused by the high cost of transport and inadequate logistics infrastructure in the area.