He did not name the “dissident groups.”
Miguel convened the RDC Wednesday morning to evaluate the region’s situation in the wake of last week’s bomb attacks in Kidapawan City and the grenade explosion in Cotabato City. A bystander and bomb expert were injured in Kidapawan City. In Cotabato City, a security guard was killed and three others were injured.
He stressed during the meeting that they should put the area’s peace on top of their agenda to ensure nothing spoils their development initiatives.
After being labeled as the “most bombed region in the country” two years ago, Southwestern Mindanao’s four provinces and five cities have been enjoying relative peace, boosting the area’s economic and development activities.
The National Statistical Coordination Board cited Region 12 as the second top economic performer in Mindanao over the last two years and among the rising investment areas in the country.
Region 12 covers the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.
Miguel emphasized the need to coordinate the intelligence operations in the region “to avert possible plans by suspected terrorists” to launch attacks in the area.
He stressed that before the attacks in Kidapawan and Cotabato, intelligence units in the area received information regarding a plot allegedly by the Abu Sayyaf group and Jemaah Islamiyah to launch attacks in the area.
Several text messages also circulated in the area Tuesday night detailing a supposed bombing plot and warning residents to avoid going to crowded places such as public markets, churches and transport terminals.
South Cotabato Gov. Daisy Avance-Fuentes said local government units in the area should also assist police and military units securing their areas by providing the necessary logistical support such as fuel and communication equipment.
The provincial government of South Cotabato has been providing mobilization support such as fuel and vehicles to the Army’s 27th Infantry Battalion and the provincial police office, she said.
“The threat is actually there all the time so it is really important that we remain vigilant and exhaust all means to ensure that we are all secured,” she said.
Miguel said the RDC also started brainstorming for the region’s development goals and plans in connection with the national government’s efforts to transform Mindanao as a “super region” by optimizing the area’s agribusiness potentials.
“We are now in the process of identifying the priority areas for agribusiness development, the priority projects and the required investments,” he said.
Miguel, who attended the recent Sabah International Expo and Business Conference in Kota Kinabalu, said the region has the resources to become a primary trading hub in the Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines-East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA).
He said among the industries highlighted in the Sabah exposition that the region may develop for future trading are Halal food and non-food products, palm oil, seaweeds and virgin coconut oil.