Business missions to promote investment opportunities in Mindanao amid Marawi crisis

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/14 July) – The Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) will join Philippine investment promotion officials in a series of business missions this year to convey to prospective investors the “current context in the investment opportunities in Mindanao” amid the ongoing Marawi crisis.

First on the list is the seven-day investment roadshow in South Korea by the Philippines Investment Promotion Plan of the Board of Investments from July 17 to 23, said Romeo Montenegro, director for Investment Promotion, International Relations and Public Affairs of MinDA.

“This is an annual undertaking of the PIPP to roll out investment promotion activities in specific targeted markets,” he said.

Aside from MinDA, the missions will include officials from Freeport Area of Bataan, Bases Conversion and Development Authority, Clark Development Corporation, Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, Subic Clark Alliance for Development, Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority, Zamboanga City Special Economic Zone.

By next month, a similar investment promotion will visit Australia’s key cities – Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne – “for the same purpose of promoting investment opportunities in Mindanao and the rest of the Philippines,” Montenegro said.

“Our role there is to make sure Mindanao is given a slot in terms of investment promotion activities, so that we would be able to convey the situation in Mindanao –

the current context in the investment opportunities that we remain vibrant and available in spite of what has happened in Marawi,” he said.

In September, he said, they will participate in the annual China-ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Expo in Nanning, China.

“This time around we would want that Mindanao be part of the entire message of investment promotion. These are some of those that have been planned out already. Just to again bring back the message that Mindanao is okay for investments,” he said.

Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. president Ronald Go said the government intends to restore investor confidence in Mindanao through the missions.

“Yet as previous experience has shown it is through business-to-business matching that we will get any investments actually moving. We look forward to a follow on in the future,” he said.

Last June 28, Mindanao Business Council chair Vicente T. Lao said that the ongoing fighting between government troops and the Islamic State-inspired Maute Group might affect private sector investments in Mindanao.

“Of course, a lot of private sector investments will be affected but I think the government will go in and rehabilitate Marawi,” Lao said.

But he acknowledged the efforts of the government troops, saying it is necessary to quell terrorism in Mindanao.

“I think the military was able to contain already the problem in that area. Of course, we cannot underestimate the reach of ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) fighters,” he said, referring to the Maute Group.

He said the Marawi crisis could discourage potential investors with less knowledge about the real situation in Mindanao.

“Some international investors who are not very familiar with the situation in Mindanao might think otherwise, but for local businessmen and those who are familiar with Mindanao, I don’t think they are scared,” he said.

Lao also threw support behind Duterte in his effort to combat the Maute Group.

“What can we do? Under that situation, it’s either you don’t do anything, and the terrorists thrive in that area,” he said.

He said it is better “to just nip it in the bud” while the military has the chance before the Maute group becomes stronger. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)