Business is back in troubled Bukidnon barangays

Businesses have picked up again, said Erlow Talatala, corporate marketing officer of the Bukidnon-based Asian Hills Bank (AHB). AHB operates a 75-member Grameen-style microfinancing program in three centers in the area. 

But during the military encounters, their clients, mostly women, were forced to flee to evacuation centers. In June, AHB reported that collection of daily amortization from member-borrowers was affected by the evacuations.

"People were displaced from their livelihood, from their normal lives. That is why we encountered collection problems," Talatala said.

"But it was only an initial effect. Because of contingency payments through savings and the people's resilience to withstand the crisis, they were able to maintain their good credit standing," he noted.

Talatala said most of their borrowers took loan packages ranging from P1,000 to P150,000 to finance sari-sari stores to small-scale livestock projects.

Talatala said their clients eventually managed to continue selling even in the evacuation sites. "But now, most of them were able to return to their places and resumed livelihood," he said.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Malaybalay local government announced last week they have ensured resumption of ongoing government projects in the area, the Central Mindanao Newswatch reported on Oct. 11. The officials from the city government and the AFP sought the residents’ support to safeguard the projects.

In a public forum last month, the city government assured the residents of the resumption of two bridge construction projects worth P11.6 million.

The bridge projects in Tigpanique village and Barangay Zamboanguita were stalled when the New People's Army was reported to have burned construction equipment that eventually led to the encounters between government forces and the rebel group.

Talatala said AHB continued to run "Dalan sa Kalambuan" (Road to Progress), its microfinance program in the area despite the hostilities because it is part of their commitment to help improve access to microfinance in "hard to reach areas." He said they are running the program in eight other remote in Bukidnon. (Walter I. Balane / MindaNews)