BONGAO, Tawi-Tawi (MindaNews / 14 June) – An official of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) has one suggestion to solve the skyrocketing prices of petroleum products in the region – restore the barter trade.
Lawyer Naguib Sinarimbo, Minister of the Interior and Local Government, said the restoration of barter trading in BARMM with countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will help stabilize prices of petroleum products before it goes out of reach for the ordinary Bangsamoro.
Prices of fuel here and in Sulu, both diesel and gasoline, remain in the P60-to-P65 per liter range as against P85 or more in mainland Mindanao and elsewhere in the country as an offshoot of hostilities in Europe.
Supplies coming from Malaysia, which is closer, are way cheaper as against fuel imported from Singapore and China.
Sinarimbo, who was in Tawi-Tawi over the weekend to facilitate groundbreaking of major BARMM infrastructure projects in Tawi-Tawi and Sulu, said now is the time to relive and revive the famous traditional barter trading via maritime Southeast Asia.
“So if we can exchange goods that are available to us, not necessarily by physical exchange of goods but facilitating the quota for fuel coming from the region and quota for some goods we offer to Malaysia, Indonesia, we can bring down the prices of other commodities that are essential for us,” he pointed out.
He recalled that before the colonizers set in, barter trading was very much alive between the island provinces of Sulu and Tawi-Tawi and that of Malaysia, Indonesia and other ASEAN neighbors.
Sinarimbo said the Sultanate of Sulu and the Sultanate of Maguindanao had barter trading partners with businessmen in Borneo up to China where the maritime economy exists.
The seas of the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia and even up to China, he said, served as the trading national highway of ASEAN countries.
“Our outlook is the regional integration of our economy, what used to be the backdoor of the South now has new meaning, that is, economic development,” he said.
Sinarimbo and other BARMM officials were in Tawi-Tawi as the first passengers of the Philippine Airlines’ Cotabato-to-Tawi-Tawi flight, the flag carrier’s first direct flight within the region, which was seen as economic and tourism booster.
“We are glad we now have the direct PAL flights from mainland Mindanao, where the BARMM government center is located, to Tawi-Tawi,” he said, adding that it is now the beginning of the reemergence of the economic corridor, as well as political and even governance collaboration, between Mindanao/BARMM and the East Asian Growth Area.
Economic development, Sinarimbo said, is already in the horizon as BARMM pushes for more infrastructure projects in the southern part of the region. (Ferdinandh B. Cabrera / MindaNews)