DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 29 June) – Mindanao Business Council (MBC) chair Vicente T. Lao said the ongoing fighting in Marawi City between government soldiers and the Maute Group that has already spanned more than a month will affect the investors’ confidence on Mindanao.
“Of course, a lot of private sector investments will be affected but I think the government will go in and rehabilitate Marawi,” Lao said in an interview with reporters on Wednesday.
He said the military must continue to contain the Maute Group and hoped that soldiers will be able to thwart any attempts of the terrorists from spreading terror in other parts of Mindanao.
The Maute Group that reportedly pledged allegiance to the dreaded global terrorist ISIS has been occupying a portion of Marawi City since May 23 that prompted President Rodrigo R. Duterte to declare martial law in Mindanao.
“I think the military was able to contain already the problem in that area. Of course, we cannot underestimate the reach of ISIS fighters,” Lao said, referring to the Maute Group.
He said the ongoing Marawi crisis discourages potential investors with less knowledge about the real situation in Mindanao.
“Some international investors who are not very familiar with the situation in Mindanao might think otherwise. But for local businessmen and those who are familiar with Mindanao, I don’t think they are scared,” he said.
Lao also threw support behind Duterte in his effort to combat the Maute Group.
“What can we do? Under that situation, it’s either you don’t do anything, and the terrorists thrive in that area,” he said, adding that it is better “to just nip it in the bud” while the military has the chance to before the Maute Group would become a stronger force to deal with.
“The President has heavy heart in trying to solve the problem in Marawi,” Lao said.
“Whether you like it or not, it is in Mindanao and it is not nice for you to be bombarding your own country,” he said.
But he believes Marawi “will rise again.”
“The president is bent on really solving the issue of terrorism. If he has to really level Marawi to the ground just to remove them, he will do that,” Lao said.
Last June 21, Property Interactive Marketing Enterprise (PRIME) Philippines founder and managing director Jettson Yu said that the ongoing conflict in Marawi has affected the perception of the investors on Davao but added they are not cancelling but only postponing their entry here.
“There is definitely an effect. But from our investors from Luzon, we did not get a clear signal that they will not push through with their investments but rather just postponing it. Everyone is in a ‘watch and observe’ mode,” he said.
Yu said they have commended the city’s peace and order condition and encouraged investors to experience Davao because it remains to be safe for investors amid the skirmishes in Marawi.
He said the city’s economic fundamentals have remained to be stable.
Yu said that if only the investors, either foreigners or those from Manila, could see for themselves what the locals are experiencing without the “exaggeration” they get from the news, then business should go as usual. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)