The Bangsamoro Development Agency by the Foundation for Economic Freedom
The struggle for self-determination or real autonomy is more than just political in nature – it extends to genuine fiscal and economic autonomy. While the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro appears to provide substantial revenue support to the new Bangsamoro Political Entity when it finally assumes the responsibilities of governance, getting the region out of the backwaters and on to a path of sustained and inclusive growth will be a daunting task for both planners and implementers of development programs in the new Bangsamoro.
This challenge can be met. But it will require a development strategy for the Bangsamaro that ensures environmentally sustainable and inclusive growth focused on generating employment and eliminating poverty, while recognizing the cultural and religious aspirations of the people of the region. A robust private sector will be a critical component of this strategy.
Harnessing the full potential of the agriculture sector will also be a critical component of this strategy. The agriculture sector now represent the economic backbone of the Bangsamoro, employing 70% of the working population and accounting for over 60% of the Regional Gross Domestic Product (RGDP). However, it is a sector of subsistence. The sector’s potentials were never taken advantage of over many decades, and the years of war and the accompanying years of long neglect of agricultural productivity led to lost opportunities, chronic poverty, and consequent continued restlessness among the people of the region.
Despite its current weaknesses, the restoration of peace opens the opportunity to exploit the vast untapped and underutilized tracts of highly arable land that, if properly managed and utilized, offers the potential for sustainable and inclusive growth for many years to come.