COTABATO CITY—The strategic location and potential of the Tawi-Tawi island for the economic development of the autonomous region was mulled over by the Bangsamoro Government in view of its formulation of the 2nd Bangsamoro Development Plan (BDP) for 2023-2028 held on Oct. 11.
During the Bangsamoro Planning and Development Authority (BPDA)-led consultation held at Bongao, Tawi-Tawi province, various sectors presented their outputs featuring key potentials of the island which can be harnessed to support linkages in and outside the region.
According to Engr. Wahab Bakil, Tawi-Tawi Provincial Planning and Development Coordinator (PPDC), the country’s southernmost island is ‘essential’ to the Bangsamoro region, underscoring its potential to become the “region’s gateway to Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA)”.
The BIMP-EAGA is an initiative launched in 1994 which aims to boost growth in trade, investments, and tourism through new intra-region shipping routes and air links as well as power interconnection projects. It also includes cooperation on agri-business, tourism, environment, and socio-cultural education, among these regions.
“We will bring Tawi-Tawi as the gateway of BARMM, if not the whole of Mindanao, to the whole BIMP-EAGA,” said Engr. Bakil, who led the participating local government unit (LGU) representatives from the 11 municipalities.
Some of the identified opportunities and potentials that will further boost BARMM’s economic growth are the following: Tawi-Tawi’s strategic location to be developed as an economic zone and gateway to BIMP-EAGA; Tawi-Tawi as a cross-border trading hub of the region; eco-tourism industry; rich aquatic resources; and seaweeds and fish processing industry, as Tawi-Tawi is known to be the largest seaweed producer in the country.
Apart from the said potentials, the session also identified specific hazards or risks on the island, both natural and human-induced, and recognized significant sectoral challenges confronting the said province.
Moreover, each LGU’s recommended development priorities, thrusts, and strategies were put on record and considered by the planners of the 2nd BDP.
Various challenges were also identified in the sectors of development administration, economic, social, peace, and security, and infrastructures.
These include limited access to potable water supply, limited power supply, poor internet connectivity, lack of inter-islands or inter-municipality transportation system, inadequate infrastructure facilities, rise in seawater level and temperature, food security, poor waste disposal, presence of human trafficking, inadequate school and sports facilities, and insufficient medical and diagnostic laboratory centers.
Meanwhile, BPDA Director-General Engr. Mohajirin Ali shared the result of a recently conducted study on the status of water and electricity supplies and services in the island province.
“Tawi-Tawi Water District has 11% of the province’s total areas that is serviceable,” said Ali, adding that the Bangsamoro Government sees “solar power” distribution and utilizing biomass renewable energy as means to alleviate its cost and supply.
The consultation workshop was facilitated by Maria Victoria Z. Maglana and Eric John Matela with support from BARMM’s development partners such as the Support to Bangsamoro Transition (SUBATRA) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). (Kasan Usop, Jr./BIO)