‘Gains of peace process felt in ARMM as investors’ confidence soared’

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/21 December) — The “gains of the peace process” between the government and the Moro rebels have been felt in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, with record-breaking private investments posted this year in the impoverished region, an official said.

With 2011 almost over, the ARMM Regional Board of Investments (RBOI) posted for the first time private investments that exceeded the one billion-peso mark, Ishak V. Mastura, the board’s chairperson, said in a statement on Tuesday.

“[The RBOI] attributed the record private investments in ARMM to the gains of the peace process, especially the peace talks between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF),” he noted.

Last year, Mastura said that investments registered at the RBOI reached only P91 million, which includes a biomass power project in Maguindanao and a construction project in Tawi-Tawi.

For this year, he said that the mechanisms on the ground of the GPH-MILF peace process, such as the Malaysian-led International Monitoring Team, have boosted investors’ confidence.

The foreign truce monitoring team managed to reduce to a minimum the armed encounters between the two parties, “signaling the continuing stability of the region and the hopeful progress of the peace talks towards a just conclusion,” Mastura said.

“The meeting of President Aquino and MILF Chairman Murad Ebrahim in Tokyo last August perked up a lot of business interest in the ARMM because investors are always looking to be [the] first-movers in any green-field area,” he added.

Both parties have resumed formal peace negotiations, brokered by Malaysia, and are set to meet again in Kuala Lumpur next month.

The value of investments registered in the autonomous Muslim region from January 2011 until mid-December reached P1,656.24 billion, according to RBOI data.

It said the P1.5 billion telecommunications project of EA Trilink Corp. was responsible for the single biggest investment in the ARMM to date.

EA Trilink, a telecommunications company based in Marawi City, has secured a franchise from the ARMM Regional Assembly, Mastura said.

Its project was registered with the RBOI in the second quarter of 2011.

In the third quarter, Matling Industrial and Commercial Corp. registered their P23.90 million project in Malabang, Lanao Del Sur for the modernization and expansion of their cassava starch factory, particularly the putting up of a biomass power plant.

In the last quarter of the year, the RBOI registered the P132.34-million investment for the modernization and expansion of the palm oil mill of Agumil Philippines Inc. in Buluan, Maguindanao.

Mastura said that 2011 is also the first time that the RBOI has registered private investments consecutively in the ARMM, from the second quarter to the fourth quarter of the year. (Bong Sarmiento/MindaNews)