Martial law takes its toll on Davao economy

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 12 July) – The head of the business chamber here said the private sector has maintained support for President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s martial law declaration in Mindanao to quell threats of terrorism but “we cannot deny the slowdown especially in the tourism industry.”

“I understand the pressing need to quell any threat that tends to inhibit our right to a peaceful and productive society. We support the President in his efforts to eradicate the elements that resort to violence and perpetuate atrocities to bring about their selfish interests,” Ronald Go, president of the Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. (DCCCII), said in a statement issued on Tuesday.

A member of Task Force Davao checks the identification card of a passenger coming into Davao CIty as part of security measures during martial law. MindaNews file photo by Manman Dejeto

But when asked if the private sector would recommend for the exclusion of Davao City should there be extension of the martial law, he said: “Everything must be put into perspective. The President has access to information the private sector is not always privy to.”

“If things are as positive as they appear to be from our perspective and the threats can be contained at their source, then the extension of martial law, so that it is limited to the critical areas of Mindanao, might be a viable option for overall progress and development of this part of the country,” he said.

The 60-day martial law that was declared on May 23 after clashes broke out between government troops and Islamic State-inspired Maute Group in Marawi City will end on July 22.

Last July 6, Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said “the extension will be dependent on the recommendation of the AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines], PNP [Philippine National Police] and other vital stakeholders.”

Go said they hope for an expeditious conclusion to the Marawi crisis or at least limit the areas covered by martial so “we can continue attracting tourists and investors, as we have experienced for the first part of this year.”

Malacañang maintained it will not negotiate with the Maute terrorists.

“We’d like to reiterate our previous announcements that government’s policy not to negotiate with terrorists remains. The AFP reiterates its call to all our citizens to practice the concept of shared responsibility in security by being vigilant, alert and conscious of their immediate environs wherever they are and to report to authorities suspicious persons or items left unattended immediately,” said Presidential Communications and Operations Office (PCOO) Assistance Secretary Ana Marie Banaag during Mindanao Hour on Monday.

AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said that the Joint Task Group Ranao continues “to make progress also in their wide consultation with local government, provincial government and the national agencies of government that are now looking forward to embark on the early recovery of Marawi.”

“The early recover stage is going to occur even while hostilities are ongoing, and this early recovery stage will pave the way for the preparation of the ground for the temporary resettlement area; while Bangon Marawi is capacitating itself and organizing itself to embark on the full recovery at the end of hostilities,” he said. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)