Unregistered Marawi businessmen want to do it right this time

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 11 Oct) – Owners of unregistered businesses in Marawi City want to rebuild their livelihood after being reduced to rubble by a five-month war last year but they want to do it right this time, Mindanao Business Council (MBC) executive director Rolando Torres said.

A Meranao businessman stands on the site of what’s left of his store at the Padian area, site of Marawi City’s commercial district, when residents and businessmen were allowed to visit the area for the first time on 8 May 2018 since the Marawi Siege. MindaNews file photo by BOBBY TIMOENERA

“We got the idea from the local business persons to register, who said: ‘We want to start again but what we want to start right.’ There is a shift of their outlook,” Torres said in an interview on Wednesday.

Of the 8,000 businesses profiled immediately after the siege, less than 10 percent had business registrations, he said.

Torres added that it was one of their objectives to collaborate with Marawi’s “internally displaced businesses” (IDBs) in the business registrations to allow them to operate their establishments legally when economic activities resume in the city.

Islamic State-inspired militants took over Marawi on May 23, 2017.

The five-month fighting between government forces and the Maute Group lasted five months. President Rodrigo Duterte declared Marawi’s “liberation” from the influence of the terrorist group after the death of Abu Sayyaf Group leader Isnilon Hapilon, emir of the ISIS in Southeast Asia, and Omar Maute on October 16, 2017.

Citing experience of the IDBs, Torres said it would be difficult to extend assistance to IDBs as the government has no records of them prior to the war for failing to register their businesses.

He said it was the late Solaiman L. Matonding, former president of the Marawi Association of Internally Displaced Business Persons Association, who pushed for the profiling and registration of Marawi’s business establishments, mostly micro and small, before he passed last month.

“We’re extending our offer of assistance to help them out on the process and working with our government to make it easy for these small businesses to formally register themselves,” Torres said.

Business compliance in Marawi was low because the owners had no knowledge on how to do the process or they found it too complicated to comply, he said.

Torres said the businessmen want a streamlined process and set up a one-stop shop to make it easier for them to register their establishments.

“We are banking on the support of the businesses in Marawi and some government agencies to really jumpstart the works because we need to seize the opportunity. We need to register all of them,” he said. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)