Martial law has no effect on business in Region 11, says DTI

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/13 December) – The productivity of business companies in Region 11 has not been affected by President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao on May 23 in response to the siege staged by Islamic State-inspired militants in Marawi City, an official said Tuesday.

During their Annual Media Interface on Tuesday at the Pinnacle Hotel and Suites here, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)-11 regional director Maria Belenda Q. Ambi said Ambi said the region continued to get the interest of investors.

Some of them even launched their projects after martial law was declared, Ambi said.

A few days before the lapse of the 60-day martial law declaration, Congress approved Duterte’s request to extend until December 31 this year.

President Duterte used the Marawi crisis as basis for the declaration of martial law in Mindanao, which has been extended twice, this time up to 31 December 2018. MindaNews file photo by H. MARCOS C. MORDENO

On Wednesday, Congress again bowed to Malacanang’s wish to further extend martial law in Mindanao until December 31, 2018.

According to the Preliminary Annual Report of DTI-11 released on Tuesday, the region has recorded investments worth P7.620 billion as of third quarter of this year. Most of these fresh investments are in Davao City (P4.903 billion), Davao del Sur (P1.783 billion), Davao del Norte (P546.81 million), and Compostela Valley (P386.74 million).

It added that real estate has remained the top industry at 54 percent, followed by manufacturing at 30 percent, agriculture, forestry and fishing at 12 percent, and electricity at 4 percent.

In a text message on Wednesday, Davao City Investment Promotions Center head Lemuel Ortonio said the number of business establishments in the city grew by 12 percent compared to last year.

“So this means that the martial law has minimal effect on the economy,” he said.

“Despite the President has declared Mindanao in state of martial law, we have seen no significant change, deterioration, or slowdown in the production of the businessmen,” Ambi said.

She said the tourism sector experienced a temporary setback but has since recovered because it’s a “different martial law this time” compared to the one during the Marcos dictatorship.

Mindanao Business Council chair Vicente T. Lao said the business sector feels safer “with military being in full control of the situation in Mindanao.”

DTI-11 assistant regional director Edwin O. Banquerigo admitted that peace and security has remained a major hindrance in the region, along with pests and diseases and threats of climate change, affecting particularly the banana industry.

On peace and security, Bancquerigo said that they are pushing for coffee and cacao development in rural areas to address poverty, which he believes causes the insurgency problem.

“Poverty is the root cause of peace and order problem. Hopefully, we can address that through crop development,” he said.

He added collaboration between the public and private sectors in research and development has been of great help in finding solutions to crop pests and diseases in the region.

He emphasized the need for “smart agriculture” to minimize the adverse effect of climate change on agricultural industry.

“We should not do agriculture they way we do it because of climate change. There are farm schools that teach farmers how to produce and cultivate crops, considering all these things (climate change),” he said. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)