NEDA acknowledges the seriousness of the crisis situation in Lanao del Sur centered in and around Marawi City. We trust the President and his security officials to do what has to be done to restore peace and order and protect our fellow Filipinos in the South.

The effect on the economy of the martial law declaration in Mindanao would largely depend on how things pan out. But we have to emphasize the point that economic growth cannot be sufficiently sustained nor be inclusive without peace. This is why achieving peace, security and public order is considered a bedrock strategy under the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2017-2022.

Nonetheless, the economy remains stable given its strong fundamentals. We are hopeful that with all the policies, programs and projects, many of which are already underway, the economy will remain resilient and will keep growing, temporary disruptions notwithstanding.

Regarding the effect on the quality of life in Mindanao, we hope this crisis is resolved very soon as threats to security derail progress. Having the watchful eye of government forces especially in Mindanao will ease tensions and allow communities to live normally.

As security forces deal with the situation, government must continue to do what we have set out to do under the PDP, which is a holistic and comprehensive approach to bringing about inclusive development and higher quality of life for all Filipinos, wherever they are.

While Mindanao’s contribution to the country’s economy has remained relatively minor owing to past neglect, this major island region has huge potential and can be a major driver of growth in both agriculture and trade, and this is what we need to tap and unleash.

We are encouraged that agricultural production recovered in the first quarter of the year, growing by 4.9 percent following several quarters of decline. This was driven by high production gains for sugarcane, banana, pineapple, tobacco, peanut, monggo, cassava, tomato, garlic, onion, eggplant, and rubber. Many of these high-value crops are located in Mindanao.

There’s a lot planned and already underway especially for lagging areas of the country. The PDP covers a wide range of interventions that will provide more and better opportunities for people not only in Mindanao but in the rest of the country. Let’s hope that peace and order challenges are quickly resolved so as not to derail implementation of plans.