Del Monte eyes banana plantation in Maguindanao

COTABATO CITY (MindaNews/24 April) – Del Monte Philippines, Inc. is planning to expand its banana plantation in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Gov. Mujiv S. Hataman disclosed.

Hataman told reporters recently here that Del Monte is eyeing to put up a 1,300-hectare banana plantation in Maguindanao province.

He noted the agribusiness firm plans to expand its banana plantation in the town of Ampatuan, infamous for the November 23, 2009 manslaughter that killed 58 people, 32 of them media workers.

The carnage was allegedly perpetrated by former Maguindanao Gov. Andal S. Ampatuan Sr. and several of his sons and relatives.

“The problem before was the bureaucratic red tape,” said Hataman, referring to the prolonged granting of approvals to businesses planning to operate in the ARMM.

Under Republic Act 9465 or the Anti-Red Tape Act of 2007, government transactions such as applications or renewal of permits, licenses and other documentation should be completed in five working days, especially for simple cases and 10 working days for more complex transactions or requests.

In February, Maguindanao Gov. Esmael G. Mangudadatu told reporters that a large Arabian firm had also plans to put up a banana plantation in Ampatuan town and other municipalities in the province.

Mangudadatu said the investment for his province alone would reach roughly P855 million.

Hataman, who was appointed by President Benigno C. Aquino III last December, said his administration is working to stamp out red tape in a bid to attract new investments in the impoverished autonomous Muslim region.

Besides Del Monte, the governor revealed that talks have been initiated with the Sandakan Business Chamber of Commerce for the resumption of trade exchanges using Polloc Port in Parang, Maguindanao.

Sandakan is in Malaysia.

Local and foreign investments in the ARMM are seen to grow this year with the planned establishment of a one-stop shop that would facilitate business transactions faster, easier and more convenient for prospective investors.

The setting up of the one-stop-shop was embodied in a memorandum of agreement signed earlier by the ARMM regional government and the Mindanao Development Authority.

The partnership shall also embark on a strengthened campaign to promote and facilitate investments ranging from small and medium enterprises to agro-industrial ventures.

Larzon Santos, ARMM Regional Board of Investments research division chief, said they are anticipating investments valued at P1.5 billion with the planned expansion of agricultural firms in the area.

Hataman earlier said that uplifting the social and economic conditions of ARMM following years of downturn “entails aggressive measures on enterprise development, harnessing existing industries, and drawing more businessmen to invest in the region.” (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)