Unit endorses P863-M investments in ARMM

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/8 February)—Two big-ticket projects worth P863.05 million were endorsed to operate in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Lawyer Ishak Mastura, head of the ARMM’s Regional Board of Investments, said on Friday “that these investments reflect that business confidence in the region is intact” despite the deadly encounter in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

The fierce clashes last January 25 left 44 elite police commandos and 18 Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters dead.

Members of the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) launched the operation to arrest alleged Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias “Marwan” and his Filipino cohort Abdul Basit Usman.

The US government, which confirmed the death of Marwan through a DNA test, has offered US$5 million for his capture and another US$1 million for Usman, whom authorities said had escaped.

The PNP-SAF troopers clashed with the elements of the MILF and the breakaway Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters during the operation.

“Investors in the ARMM are unfazed by the recent Mamasapano incident that is seen to have imperiled the Mindanao peace process,” the press release from Mastura said.

The RBOI, a regional government entity promoting the area’s investment potentials, through its management committee (ManCom), has endorsed the application of the two companies to operate in the region, it said.

The ManCom endorsement means that these investment projects will now proceed for deliberations and final decision by the Board of Governors of the RBOI in a meeting set to take place within the month.

The two projects endorsed by the ManCom are the P741.8 million nickel ore mining project of Chan C Mining, Inc. and the P121.25 million fuel depot project of Tawi-Tawian Petroleum Trading Corporation.

Both are located in Panglima Sugala town in the island province of Tawi-Tawi, which is far from the encounter site in Mamasapano town in Maguindanao province.

The wire agency Agence France-Presse earlier reported that the Mamasapano encounter “is scaring investors” in the vicinity.

However, Mastura said that despite the Mamasapano incident, the RBOI continues to process investment projects in Maguindanao province.

These include ventures in oil palm and banana plantations and expansion of biomass power plants, he added.

A potential multi-billion peso logistics center in Polloc Port in Parang town, Maguindanao has likewise been proposed to the ARMM regional government by investors and is now being facilitated by RBOI together with the port authorities, Mastura said.

The ARMM will be replaced by the Bangsamoro government as envisioned by the final peace agreement signed last year between the Philippine government and the MILF.