Mindanao biz leaders hope Davao, Mindanao will get bigger share of Japan’s aid, investments

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 2 Nov) – Business leaders in Mindanao are all praises after President Rodrigo R. Duterte announced he brought home some billions worth of Japanese assistance and investments from his two-day working visit in Japan but they are hoping he would a give a bigger chunk to his hometown, Davao City, and Mindanao.

Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. (DCCCII) president Ronald Go told MindaNews Thursday that he acknowledged the enormous contribution of Japan to development of the country as a strong trading partner but he claimed most of the investments and development assistance in the past went to Manila and Cebu.

“It is sad to note that most of these investments are in Manila and Cebu. We hope that the President will be able to direct more of these investments to Davao and Mindanao,” he said.

Duterte announced, upon his arrival from his two-day working visit in Japan Tuesday evening, that he brought home business deals worth P309 billion with Japanese investors and a pledge of assistance from Japanese government worth P456 billion.

Duterte, mayor from 1988 to 1998, representative of the first district from 1998 to 2001 and mayor again from 2001 to 2010, served as vice mayor to his daughter-mayor from 2010 to 2013. In 2013, he was elected mayor for the seventh time with son Paolo as vice mayor.

Mindanao Business Council chair Vicente T. Lao said the business community was thankful to the President for highlighting “the need for additional investments in Mindanao most especially in the agriculture sector.”

Lao said he looks forward to more products coming from Mindanao making inroad to the Japanese market.

Lao, owner of Mindanao-based Maharlika Agro-Marine Ventures Corp., is an exporter of pekin duck.

“The business community in Mindanao would like to congratulate the President for a very successful trip to Japan,” he said.

For his part, Davao City Investment and Promotions Center (DCIPIC) head Lemuel Ortonio said the billions worth of business deals is an indication of a good investors’ confidence for the country.

“Of course, this will strengthen the trading partnership between the Philippines and Japan. And with this more and more foreign investors will see the viability of the country as an ideal investment location,” he said.

A 20-man team composed of city officials and representatives from the economic and tourism sector here went to Japan to participate in the Davao City Investment and Tourism Roadshow held October 16-20 in Tokyo.

The delegates visited Osaka, Kyoto, Yokohama and Tokyo.

“We are hoping we have made a good impression and that Davao City will be their top-of-mind choice for future investments,” Ortonio said.

Upon his arrival from his two-day working visit in Japan, Duterte announced Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe promised to “give flesh” to Japan’s assistance program worth P456 billion for the country in which “many more projects will be rolled off.” He vowed those projects would be implemented immediately.

During his business meeting with top Japanese business leaders in Tokyo, Duterte said business deals worth P309.6 billion were signed.

Duterte said they also discussed Japan’s vital support in the key infrastructure projects under his administration’s “Build, Build, Build” program that will sustain the country’s economic growth and improve quality of life.

“I am committed to work closely with him to ensure projects proceed soonest and it will be done, done, done,” he said.

Duterte also thanked Japan for reaffirming its commitment in helping pursue just and lasting peace in Mindanao, as it vowed to work with the Philippine government in rebuilding Marawi as a “center of moderation and tolerance.”

The two leaders also discussed concrete, time-bound and specific ways to further intensify the bilateral cooperation between the two countries, according to Duterte.

The President said this was more than three times the amount of business agreements sealed during his first Japan visit in October 2016.

He said he also encouraged them to explore other opportunities in the country, most especially in steel manufacturing, agribusiness, information technology and creative services. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)