Reconciliation still elusive for feuding business groups

"In the light of the political and security crises in our country today, it would be very tragic if the business community would also show disunity and instability, " Duterte, a key ally of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, said in an earlier statement.

Lawyer Bienvenido Cariaga, DCCCII president, told reporters later they have agreed to discuss the issue in another board meeting of the chamber next week.

DCCCII bolted PCCI on October 19 in protest over the latter's alleged unilateral decision to reduce the number of Mindanao's regional chambers, a move that also prompted the PCCI Vice President for Mindanao and all PCCI governors in Mindanao to resign en masse.

PCCI president and delegation head Donald Dee revealed they had agreed not to issue more statements to the media until DCCCII submits its proposal to the PCCI on how to address the problem. But he admitted his group came upon the request of uterte.

"We did not want DCCCII to disaffiliate from the PCCI," Dee said.

DCCCII approached Duterte for support hours after announcing their decision to bolt PCCI on Oct. 19. On the same day, Duterte sent a letter to Dee on the matter.

"We hope that PCCI will be able to resolve this crisis soon because this may significantly impact the President's development agenda for the Mega Mindanao Region," he said in his letter.

Dee told reporters Wednesday night they agreed to dialogue with the chamber officials with Duterte as facilitator.

"I assure you the chamber (PCCI) will bend over backwards to solve the problem," Dee told reporters after a meeting with leaders of other chambers in the outheastern Mindanao region later that night.

Dee said they view the unity (of businessmen in Mindanao) as important for PCCI so that investments for Mindanao would flow in.

Duterte came out of the dialogue after an hour and said he told both parties to consider reconciliation. "I didn't want Davao City to lose its national dimension (with its disaffiliation from PCCI). But he said the situation has become a "waiting game".

Cariaga said the process could drag. "If the chamber's board can decide on a proposed solution next week, we will communicate it to PCCI. Then they will decide on the proposal. They give us their response. And we will also discuss their esponse," he said.

He stressed that the chamber remains disaffiliated from PCCI until the board decides on the proposal. "That has been our decision and we will stick to that for now," he told MindaNews Thursday.

Cariaga said that after the mayor and Dee spoke, each of the chamber officials were allowed to express their thoughts. "It was a cordial and civil dialogue," he said, adding "PCCI heard the stand of the chamber officials sticking to its decision."

"PCCI offered nothing and we also did not make any offer in the dialogue. We just listened to everyone," he said.

But Cariaga told MindaNews Thursday reconciliation was possible.

"We didn't want to prejudice any possibility of reconciliation, which we are seriously working on," he said when pressed for the reason behind the silence on details.

"We are studying the method for possible reconciliation, " he said.

But he clarified that even if he agreed with Duterte's call for reconciliation, the decision of the chamber's board will determine their next steps. On October 19, Cariaga said the board was unanimous on the decision to bolt PCCI.

The chamber decried PCCI's alleged disregard of due process, insensitivity to cultural differences, and ignorance of the history of Mindanao.

Cariaga said it is business as usual for the chamber as he announced Thursday the launching of the good agricultural practices (GAP) manual, a comprehensive guide for farmers and fishers to help further develop the agriculture sector.