Senator Christopher Lawrence Go. (PNA file photo)

DAVAO CITY – The passage of the Metropolitan Davao Development Authority (MDDA) will further bolster development in Mindanao, said Senator Christopher Lawrence Go Thursday.

President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law Republic Act 11708 or "An Act Creating Metropolitan Davao Development Authority,” establishing a special development and administrative region to be known as Metropolitan Davao consisting of six cities and nine municipalities.

MDDA will have jurisdiction over Davao City and the nearby cities of Panabo, Tagum, and Samal in Davao del Norte; Digos in Davao del Sur; Mati in Davao Oriental; and the municipalities of Sta. Cruz, Hagonoy, Padada, Malalag and Sulop in Davao del Sur; Carmen in Davao del Norte; Maco in Davao de Oro; and Malita and Sta. Maria in Davao Occidental.

“This will benefit Mindanao as a whole. It is imperative that we create an agency which can centralize and oversee the development efforts and initiatives that deal with the challenges faced by Davao,” Go said in a statement.

As author and co-sponsor of the measure, the senator assured Mindanaoans that the MDDA will improve the coordination among the local government units of Davao City and nearby areas, resulting in better delivery of public services and integrated development planning.

In addition, Go said MDDA will help address the growing needs of this city and nearby areas through the services it will provide.

“These include development planning, transport management, solid waste disposal and management, urban zoning, land use planning, shelter services, health, and sanitation, as well as public safety,” he said.

MDDA's governing board and policy-making body will be the Metropolitan Davao Development Council (MDDC), composed of the chairperson of the Regional Development Council-Region 11, the governors of the five provinces, six-city mayors, and nine municipal mayors.

MDDA is tasked to consult, coordinate, and work closely with the local government units, the Regional Development Council of Region 11, national government agencies, people’s organizations, non-government organizations, and the private sector operating in Metropolitan Davao.

“Apart from what I mentioned, the MDDA will also be a bridge to unite the public and private sectors because one of its mandates is to work with private organizations, and with businesses that operate in Metropolitan Davao,” Go added.

Meanwhile, Davao de Oro Governor Jayvee Tyron Uy said he expects the creation of MDDA to improve development planning, transport management, waste disposal, flood control, urban renewal, zoning, and land use in the Davao Region.

“This fully aligns with our development goals to improve living conditions and open brand-new opportunities for the people of our golden province,” Uy said in a separate statement Thursday.

For his part, Senator Francis Tolentino said the formal establishment of MDDA is expected to bring rapid socio-economic growth, urbanization, and sustainable development in the entire Davao region.

Tolentino, the chairperson of the Senate Committee on Local Government and principal sponsor of RA 11708 in the Senate, said institutionalizing the MDDA will further empower the localities within its jurisdiction and free themselves from dependence on the national government.

The MDDA will also promote a sustained and all-inclusive decentralization in the region, he added.

To set off transformation

In the House of Representatives, Deputy Speaker Isidro Ungab said the new law would set off the transformation of the socio-economic landscape, growth and development of the Davao Region.

Ungab, a principal author, thanked Duterte for signing the “landmark legislation” that will spur progress and development in the Davao region.

“I would like to thank all those people who worked hard to make this piece of legislation a reality, esp. to Sen. Francis Tolentino, who spearheaded the passage of the bill in the Senate,” Ungab said in a statement on Thursday.

Based on RA 11708, Metropolitan Davao includes Davao City; the cities of Panabo, Tagum and Island Garden City of Samal in Davao del Norte; Digos City in Davao del Sur; Mati City in Davao Oriental; and the municipalities of Sta. Cruz, Hagonoy, Padada, Malalag, and Sulop in Davao del Sur, Carmen in Davao del Norte, Maco in Davao de Oro, and Malita and Sta Maria in Davao Occidental.

Ungab also thanked Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, given that the creation of the MDDA was one of her initiatives as the head of the Metropolitan Davao Development Coordinating Committee (MDDCC), a special committee under the Regional Development Council -Davao Region.

With the enactment of the new law, Ungab said he sees a stronger coordination among Metro Davao’s component cities and municipalities, in the planning, implementation and monitoring of priority programs and projects, and the MDDA Act will ensure a synchronized and unified development in the Davao region. (with reports from Filane Mikee Cervantes & Wilnard Bacelonia/PNA)