As the Philippines continues to grapple with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mindanao has to reset and rebuild its paradigms and practices to emerge stronger from this crisis.   
This is the key message of this year’s 7th Mindanao Policy Research Forum (MPRF), which is jointly organized by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA), and Caraga State University. The virtual forum is set for Friday, September 24, from 2:00 PM to 5:00 PM.
The forum carries the theme, “Reset and Rebuild for a Better Mindanao in the Post-Pandemic World”, in unison with this year’s 19th Development Policy Research Month (DPRM) theme, “Reset and Rebuild for a Better Philippines in the Post-Pandemic World”.

“Just like any other region, Mindanao is also experiencing the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Hence, it has to revisit its priorities and redesign its approaches to better manage similar risks in the future,” PIDS President Aniceto Orbeta Jr. said.
According to the United Nations Development Programme’s socioeconomic impact assessment on COVID-19 in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao or BARMM, the region “has been badly hit” by the pandemic.
Further, a survey conducted by the Japan International Cooperation Agency and the Ministry of Interior and Local Government in the BARMM showed that the pandemic has greatly affected the region’s access to necessities and emergency needs due to restrictions in movement and transportation.
In terms of employment, recent data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed that the BARMM reported an 8.2-percent unemployment rate, making it one of the six regions that registered unemployment rates higher than the national estimate of 6.9 percent. 
To cope with the economic impacts of the pandemic, MinDA Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said they will “focus [their] efforts on the region's agriculture and fisheries sectors over the next five years as [they] aim for immediate recovery to counteract the economic slowdown triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
He also urged local government officials to help promote the ‘Buy Local’ movement to support local producers. “This will not only result in better economic opportunities to small and medium enterprises but will also provide better employment opportunities to their constituents,” he explained.
Other topics related to the theme will also be discussed during the MPRF.
The forum will start with the presentation of the DPRM concept paper on “Reset and Rebuild for a Better Philippines in the Post-Pandemic World” by PIDS Senior Research Margarita Debuque-Gonzales.
This will be followed by the presentation of CSU Center for Research in Environmental Management and Eco-governance Director Romell A. Seronay on “Developing a Sustainable Pathway for the Philippine Nickel Sector”.
Meanwhile, fisherfolk leader and 2021 Ramon Magsaysay Awardee Roberto “Ka Dodoy” Ballon will shares his views on “The Coastal Community Social Enterprise at Zamboanga Sibugay”.
Joining as panelists are Tenement and Environment Manager Jesalyn A. Guingguing of the Agata Mining Ventures Inc., Campus Director Engr. Ramil A. Sanchez of the Philippine Science High School Caraga, and Executive Director Regina Salvador-Antequisa of the Ecosystems Work for Essential Benefits.
Launched in 2015, the MPRF is part of the DPRM celebration led by PIDS every September. The DPRM aims to promote nationwide awareness of the vital contribution of policy research to national development and nation-building, pursuant to Proclamation 247 issued in 2002. The DPRM also aims to underscore the importance of crafting evidence-based policies, plans, and programs. ###

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