By Christia Marie Ramos, January 17, 2022; Philippine Daily Inquirer

Manila, Philippines — The Senate approved on third and final reading a bill seeking the creation of the Metropolitan Davao Development Authority (MDDA).

With 23 affirmative votes, no negative votes and no abstentions, the upper chamber passed House Bill No. 8930, which seeks to create the MDDA.

Senator Francis Tolentino, chairman of the Senate local government committee and sponsor of the bill in the Senate, said the MDDA’s establishment will “institutionalize the rapid urbanization” in the Davao region “through strategic and viable reforms directed primarily towards regional cooperation and economic growth.”

“By agglomerating the major cities and municipalities in the region, MDDA will further liberalize local government units within its jurisdiction from their dependence upon the national government and promote a sustained and all-inclusive decentralization in the region,” he said.

Tolentino further emphasized the importance of creating the MDDA amid the pandemic.

“As we continue to implement post pandemic recovery efforts in the country, we are witnessing that critical decisions such as vaccine distribution, curfew implementation, and community quarantine measures are made not by each local government unit but in unison through metropolitan councils or regions,” he said.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to fore urban pandemic resilience and encouraged economic cooperation and interlinked health strategies among neighboring local government units,” the senator added.

Tolentino likewise pointed out that “uniform decision-making made by metropolitan councils makes more sense given the geographical contiguity of LGUs (local government units) and the state of urban mobility in the country.”