Banana growers say success of peace talks to boost Mindanao economy

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DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/26 Sept) – The success of the peace process between the government and the National Democratic Front will enable Mindanao to attain its full economic potential, a business group said Monday.

Stephen Antig, Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA) executive director told Kapehan sa Dabaw that the resumption of the peace negotiations between the GRP and NDF was a welcome development.

“Peace is very important for further development. We welcome all peace efforts. We are happy that the peace talks are moving and will be completed once and for all,” he said.

He said the insurgency has affected the operations of banana companies in the island.

He cited that a PBGEA member in Tagbina, Surigao del Sur lost about P20 million in three to five years due to actions allegedly committed by the New People’s Army, armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

“Without peace, Mindanao will not attain its full potential,” he said.

Ferdinand Marañon, Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. 11 president lauded the government’s effort to reach out to the NDF to forge a peace agreement that will address the root causes of armed conflict.

He was hoping the success of the peace negotiations would eliminate the “unnecessary” so-called revolutionary taxes.

“We hope that all of this unnecessary taxation of our banana farmers and members will be stopped and the NPA can control their members not to extort money from our farmers,” he said.

In a press release last year, the Armed Forces’ Eastern Mindanao Command said private companies lost P246.12 million to NPA attacks.

The GRP and NDF peace panels will return to Oslo, Norway on October 6 to 10 for the second round of negotiations.

This time they will take up the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms, and the Reciprocal Working Groups on Political and Constitutional Reforms and End of Hostilities-Disposition of Forces.

In last month’s formal resumption of peace talks, the panels affirmed the previously-signed agreements; agreed to accelerate process for negotiations, including the timeline for the completion of the remaining substantive agenda for the talks, socio-economic reforms, political and economic reforms, and end of hostilities and disposition of forces; and reconstitution of the Joint Agreement on Security and Immunity Guarantees list. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)

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