DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 10 Nov) – Acknowledging the role of private sector in growth and development, a top official of the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA) said that they welcome investors in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
“We would like to welcome any investors, locally or from outside. The real engine of growth is the private sector. The government can only provide the basic fundamentals for growth and development,” said BDA chairman Saffrullah M. Dipatuan during the signing of memorandum of cooperation between the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the Mindanao Development Authority at the Grand Regal Hotel Tuesday evening.
He said that they are hoping to see more investors from the power and agribusiness sectors doing business in the ARMM area once the enabling law that will be created by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) will be approved in Congress.
The enabling law, once passed by Congress, will create a new Bangsamoro entity that will replace the ARMM.
Dipatuan said that they wish more developments to take place in agribusiness, which is the major economic driver and provides 60 percent of the livelihood of the people in the region.
He said they are planning upgrade the Polloc Port in Parang, Maguindanao into an international seaport that can accommodate international shipping lines, which would trigger development in the Bangsamoro area.
Dipatuan said the upgrade will cost them some P5 billion.
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza said that they plan to address both peace and development simultaneously to also uplift the lives of the people in conflict areas as they move towards achieving a long-lasting peace.
Dureza urged investors to explore opportunities in the less developed areas to provide jobs for the people.
“This should send a strong message to many businessmen. If you invest in affected areas you also get the benefits when the peace comes,” he said.
Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) chair Abul Khayr Dancal Alonto bannered the Mindanao Development Corridors program that is geared towards making the island a competitive player in the Brunei, Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia Philippines – East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA), Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and the larger world economy.
“It aims to strengthen connectivity infrastructure, develop our industries such as tourism, agribusiness, manufacturing, and services, and facilitate investment while putting in place the policies and institutional mechanisms that provide an enabling environment for progress,” he said.
Alonto, who chairs one of the factions of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), said that he is optimistic that “this is an exciting time for Mindanao” where the country’s president came from.
“For decades, we have clamored for adequate government attention to be accorded to our island, and finally, our hard work is paying off. We so observe this because every single peso invested in Mindanao is an investment in peace and progress not only for our communities here but for the whole nation as well,” he said.
He added that he wants to see people benefit from the gains of the peace negotiations.
The BDA was formed on June 22, 2001 by virtue of the GPH-Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Tripoli Agreement as the centerpiece of “relief, rehabilitation and development aspect.”
Its tasks include, among others, determining, leading and managing relief, rehabilitation and development projects in the conflict-affected areas and to implement projects jointly with the Philippine government. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)