Business sector bullish on Bangsamoro deal’s impact to Mindanao economy

COTABATO CITY(MindaNews/30 January) – Business leaders here are bullish that the signing of the final peace deal between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB), will unleash the full economic potentials of Mindanao.

“Mindanao’s economy would really grow if there is no war because investors will no longer be afraid to put up investments in the island,” said Datu Haron Bandila, chair of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Business Council.

Bandila also expressed the group’s support to the signing of the last Annex on Normalization to the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB), which would pave the way for the signing of the CAB both sides expect to happen within the first quarter this year.

“We are always on the positive side. Both the government and the MILF must be sincere and adhere to the agreements [so that] everything will be okay. We congratulate both parties for a job well done,” he said in reaction to the signing of the normalization annex.

The normalization annex seeks the gradual decommissioning of MILF forces, put their firearms beyond use and transform them to become productive members of society. The three other signed annexes of the FAB are Transitional Arrangements and Modalities, Revenue Generation and Wealth Sharing, and Power Sharing.

In January last year, British bank Standard Chartered released a study saying that a final peace deal between the government and the MILF will augur well to the economy of Mindanao.

“We believe that a complete peace deal will accelerate economic growth in the ARMM over five years, and that this will spill over to the larger Mindanao island group,” wrote Standard Chartered analysts Jeff Ng and Edward Lee.

“A peace deal could narrow regional disparities and place the Mindanao island group on a faster growth trajectory,” the study said.

Under the GPH-MILF peace agreement, the ARMM will be replaced by the Bangsamoro government upon the enactment and ratification of the Bangsamoro Basic Law, which is currently being drafted.

Teresita Socorro Ramos, director of the National Economic and Development Authority for Region 9 or the Zamboanga Peninsula, noted that a peace agreement can bring in an influx of domestic and foreign investors to Mindanao.

“We can expect a surge in economic growth at the onset. The question is really on how it could be sustained,” she said, calling for everyone’s contribution to achieve such sustainable growth.

Pete Marquez, president of the Metro Cotabato Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the signing of the last Annex on Normalization will pave the road to the peace that all of us have dreamed of.

“There is renewed hope and unlimited possibilities in trade and commerce once this agreement will realize its full implementation. Let’s celebrate and all work together. This is not only a Bangsamoro triumph but for all Filipinos,” he said.