(File photo)

MANILA – A lawmaker on Wednesday called for the implementation of the law creating the Metropolitan Davao Development Authority (MDDA) to put in place efficient and long-term solutions to the challenges facing the rapid urbanization and progress in the region.

In a statement, Davao City Rep. Paolo Duterte said the development of Metro Davao requires a unified approach to reduce the problems that plague fragmented urban communities.

He noted that Metro Davao, which serves as the economic and administrative core of the Davao Region and the entire Mindanao, spurred the pre-pandemic growth of the region to 7 percent in 2019, making it the country’s third fastest regional economy.

The metropolitan area is composed of the cities of Davao, Panabo, Tagum, Island Garden City of Samal, Digos, and Mati, as well as the municipalities of Sta. Cruz, Hagonoy, Padada, Malalag, Sulop, Carmen, Maco, Malita and Sta. Maria in the Davao Region.

“We should not delay anymore the implementation of the law creating the MDDA. Metro Davao is seven times the size of Metro Manila and even bigger than the land area of Singapore. The MDDA is necessary so that the development plans of the cities and municipalities comprising Metro Davao will move in a synchronized path that is beneficial to all,” Duterte said.

Duterte said the MDDA’s responsibilities and functions are designed to further energize Mindanao’s economy, expand job and business opportunities and improve the delivery of public services in the Davao Region.

Among the key concerns that the MDDA should urgently address are Metro Davao’s infrastructure system, its transportation policies and programs, solid waste disposal and flood control management, water and power supply and urban planning and shelter concerns, he noted.

“We can save Metro Davao from haphazard planning and transform it into a smart, sustainable, and resilient metropolis if the Metro Davao Development Authority can start doing its job,” he added.

Under the law, the Metropolitan Davao Development Council (MDDC) will serve as the MDDA’s governing board and policy-making body.

The Davao Regional Development Council has started crafting the MDDA law’s implementing rules and regulations and initial budget as well as the MDCC’s staffing pattern in May this year.

The final outputs will be endorsed to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. earlier expressed support for the establishment of the MDDA during a situation briefing with regional directors as part of the President’s visit to Davao City in October.

Malacañang has not released details about what was discussed during the meeting as of posting time.

In April this year, former President Rodrigo Duterte signed Republic Act 11708 creating the MDDA, a special body mandated to coordinate and promote the socio-economic growth and sustainable development of Metropolitan Davao.

Among its services are development planning; transport management; solid waste disposal and management; flood control and sewerage management; urban renewal, zoning, land use planning and shelter services; health and sanitation and public safety.

The MDDA is designated to formulate plans aligned with the Davao Regional Development Plan, Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022 and succeeding national and regional development plans.

It is also tasked to set policies concerning traffic, waste management and public safety and security for Metropolitan Davao; prepare and implement metropolitan-wide programs and projects; review and recommend policies to the Metropolitan Davao Development Council; install and administer a single ticketing system; and prescribe and collect service and regulatory fees.

National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Davao regional director Maria Lourdes Lim said the MDDA is currently in its “formative stages.”

Lim said the Japanese government, through the Japan International Cooperation Agency, has already approved a grant for the formulation of the master plan for Metropolitan Davao. (PNA)