ARMM business sector lauds BBL submission

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/10 September) –The business sector in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) welcomed the submission by President Benigno S. Aquino III of the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) to Congress today.

Datu Haron Bandila, chair of the ARMM Business Council, said they are also hoping that Congress will immediately approve the BBL for the entrenchment of the Bangsamoro government in place of the autonomous Muslim region.

“We are very happy about the submission. From the very start, we are supportive of the peace process between the government and the MILF [Moro Islamic Liberation Front],” he said in a phone interview.

Bandila said the business sector in the ARMM has taken part in consultations conducted in relation to the GPH-MILF peace process.

He expressed hopes that the agenda pushed by the ARMM business sector—such as the improvement of sea and air ports in the region—will be addressed by the new Bangsamoro political entity.

“Commitments were made to us by both sides and we hope they will honor them,” Bandila said.

There’s a need to improve infrastructure facilities in the ARMM to make doing business in the area easier and to further attract more investors, he said.

Bandila, who said he has yet to read the draft BBL, noted that businesses play an important role in generating jobs for the people.

Ishak Mastura, chair of ARMM’s Regional Board of Investments, also hailed the submission of the draft BBL, which was handed to Senate President Franklin Drilon and House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. in a ceremony at the Malacanang Palace in Manila.

“This sends a positive signal to potential investors to locate in the area,” Mastura said.

However, he tempered his expectation, noting that “possible changes in policies in the new Bangsamoro government may make potential investors cautious.”

“Investors are always taking into account uncertainties brought by changes. In every transition, there is always that fear from them,” said Mastura, who also admitted he has yet to read the copy of the draft BBL.

He urged the new Bangsamoro government to come up with clear investment and decision-making policies once it is installed to fend off the fears of potential investors.

Among the investment policies Mastura suggested “is a level playing field for all investors,” meaning there must be no favoritism.

Aside from clear investment policies, he also underscored the importance of sustaining the security stability on the ground to also further attract investors. (Bong S. Sarmiento/MindaNews)