BUTUAN CITY — Considered the new mining capital of the country, the Caraga Region aims to curb the negative impact of mining, as stated in its Regional Development Plan (RDP) 2017-2022, which was launched yesterday.

RDPs are socioeconomic development blueprints of the different regions in the country in line with the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2017-2022. The PDP was identified by President Duterte as the guide of national and local government agencies’ programs, budgets, and strategies.

“While mining in the region will remain as a key sector, in the interest of sustainable development and protecting ecological integrity, mining will be limited to existing mining areas excluding watersheds within the mining concessions,” the RDP states.

Strategies in the RDP include the establishment of Minahang Bayan sites, where activities of small scale miners will be monitored closely to ensure their compliance with environmental laws and policies.

The Social Development and Management Program (SDMP) fund will also be utilized to ensure that host and neighboring communities have sustainable and environmentally friendly livelihood projects.

“A transition period should be in place for communities that rely heavily on mining. During this time, alternatives to mining should be identified to introduce sustainable sources of income for the people in the region,” NEDA Undersecretary Adoracion M. Navarro said.

The Plan added that mined-out areas will be rehabilitated and transformed into ecoparks for recreation and tourism, generating jobs and income for communities.

Navarro said that regulating mining activities will help the region reach its goal to become the Fishery, Agro-Forestry, Mineral, and Eco-tourism (FAmE) Center of the Philippines by 2022—from being the country’s second poorest region in 2015.

“We should develop more economic drivers that create a balance of production and environmental protection,” NEDA Regional Director Mylah Faye Aurora B. Cariño said.

The Plan also explained that, to expand economic opportunities in the region, industry and services should be diversified by operationalizing existing and proposed economic zones and mainstreaming ecotourism.

The RDP identifies Butuan City as the regional center; Agusan del Norte as the agri-processing and industrial estates zone; Agusan del Sur as the agri-forestry center and food basket of the region; Dinagat Islands as the ecotourism and fishery center; and Surigao del Norte as the major ecotourism destination and fishery producer.

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