Old Mindanao firm puts up own biomass power plant

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/17 October) — One of the oldest corporations in Mindanao has set up a biomass power generation facility to support its cassava starch operation, a trade official in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) confirmed on Monday.

Ishak Mastura, chair of the ARMM Regional Board of Investments (RBOI), said in the agency’s third quarter report released recently that Matling Industrial and Commercial Corp. poured in P24 million for the biomass facility as part of the firm’s expansion activity.

“Matling’s biomass power plant is already on stream, just early this year,” he said.

Located in Malabang, Lanao del Sur, Matling Corp. is the largest cassava starch producer in Mindanao and one of the oldest corporations in the region since it started operations in 1928 during the American colonial period, 18 years before the declaration of Philippine independence in 1946, the RBOI report said.

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Mastura attributed the continuing “confidence” of investors in the impoverished region to the investment roadshows conducted by the Adiong administration in the country and abroad.

ARMM Vice Governor Ansaruddin Adiong became the region’s chief executive in December 2009 following the massacre of 58 people, including 32 media workers, that implicated members of the powerful Ampatuan clan, including then ARMM Governor Zaldy Ampatuan. The latter has been in detention since early December 2009.

Since September 30 this year, the supposed end of the three-year term of the ARMM officials, Adiong and his vice governor and 24 members of the Regional Legislative Assembly are on holdover capacity after the Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order against Republic Act 10153, which cancelled the August 8, 2011 ARMM polls and synchronized it with the 2013 midterm elections. RA 10153 also allowed President Benigno Aquino III to appoint officers-in-charge in the ARMM.

Mastura said that 2011 is turning out to be a “banner year” for the RBOI as it has exceeded its target to register P400 million worth of private sector investments by 381% with the registration of the P1.5 billion telecommunications investment of EA Trilink Corporation during the second quarter.

“This positive trend in the investment climate is an indication of the continuing confidence of investors in the ARMM,” he added.

Mastura, who served as regional trade secretary in the Ampatuan administration, said the Adiong administration has reached out to investors from Malaysia and Brunei to pitch the region as a viable business destination.

Amid the projected power crisis in Mindanao, the RBOI noticed that corporations in the ARMM, the country’s poorest region, have been expanding through investments on their own biomass power plants, he said.

In the case of Matling Corp. it is just the latest ARMM-based corporation to establish a biomass power plant, Mastura said.

Last year, the Lamsan Corn Starch Factory, one of the largest corn starch producers in the ARMM based in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao, operationalized its biomass power plant registered with the RBOI in 2007. The plant cost P173 million.

Also last year, the Philippine Trade Center, Inc., another corn starch producer also based in Sultan Kudarat town, registered with the RBOI its P88 million biomass power plant project. (Bong Sarmiento/MindaNews)