DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 16 December) – Sulu is now a “go zone” for investors as it welcomed “the first outside investment” to be registered with the Regional Bureau of Investors (RBOI) in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
The RBOI recently approved the application of Sulu Food and Beverage Corporation (SFBC) to registertheir food and beverage manufacturing project worth 8 million pesos in Indanan, Sulu, a press release from the RBOI said.
SFBC will put up a food factory, including a buying station and warehousing. It will process fruits such as mangosteen, coconut and durian into jams and other finished goods under the brand of Sulu Tropical Original Fruit Jams.
The investment is backed by Destileria Limtuaco, the oldest distillery in the Philippines, and Misu Oil Inc. of Zamboanga City, said lawyer Ishak Mastura, RBOI chair and managing head.
“An investment milestone,” said Mastura, who noted that Sulu, one of the most conflict-affected areas in the country, was “previously considered a ‘no go zone’ for investors.”
Sulu is a known hotbed of the Abu Sayyaf Group and other threat groups that are still holding hostage several victims.
On December 5, Brig. General Edgard Arevalo, spokesperson of the Armed Forces of the Philippines announced the activation this month of the 11thInfantry Division that will be based in Sulu to “effectively and efficiently engage and decisively defeat the lingering security threat in Sulu in the soonest time possible.”
“With the registration of this investment project in Sulu, all five provinces in the ARMM now have registered investments with the RBOI, which is unprecedented,” Mastura said.
Mastura told MindaNews there has not been an investor in Sulu from outside the province until the SFBC. He said the oil depot and oil mills and other businesses in Sulu are owned by locals.
This is the first time, he said, when an investor from outside is coming in, and the first time that a firm registered an investment in Sulu, initially coursed through the Board of Investments in Manila which referred it to the RBOI.
Destileria Limtuaco is based in Metro Manila while Misu Oil is based in Zamboanga.
In a statement, ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman said that “with its suitable soil and rainfall good for growing exotic tropical fruits, the investment in Sulu of a food processing plant will add value and provide much needed jobs.”
He said it will also “pave the way for the province to exploit the local and global markets at the same time ensure sustainability of peace and economic growth, especially now that we are about to start the transition from the present ARMM to the Bangsamoro,”
Republic Act 11054 or the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, the enabling law of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro between government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, is up for ratification in a plebiscite on January 21 and February 6, 2019. The ARMM is deemed abolished once it is ratified.
The RBOI said that the approval of the projectwill allow the company, upon the start of its commercial operations, to avail of fiscal and non-fiscal incentives like income tax holidays, reduced duties for importation of capital equipment, exemption from wharfage dues for export, among others.
Based on the documents submitted to the RBOI, the SFBC will engage in the preparation, processing, manufacture, packaging, selling and distribution of high quality foods, food products and beverages intended for import and export markets. It will also engage in farming and trading of agricultural products on commercial and wholesale basis.
This year, RBOI registered total of 2.254 billion pesos worth of investment projects that are expected to create total of 1,510 jobs.
Top investor in 2018 is ChocoInvest Corporation investing on a one-billion peso Integrated Cacao Plantation in Buldon Maguindanao, followed by Mina Vida De Mindanao Corporation with 940 million peso investment on nickel ore mining in Languyan, Tawi-Tawi; Eka Salam Agriventures Corporation with 290 million pesos for banana cavendish plantation in Ampatuan, Maguindanao. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)