P20B earned in 6 years: MILF hopes to sustain ARMM investment gains

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KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews / 10 Jan) – The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) hopes to sustain the investment generated by the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) in the last six years pegged at P20 billion.

MILF chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim said that sustaining investors’ confidence in the proposed Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) can be achieved by employing the concept of “inclusive business model.”

Such business model, while for profit, will benefit the poor or low income communities not through charitable acts but through their inclusion in business operations, he said.

“[These business operations] will provide them livelihood essential to build a dignified society,” Murad said in a message to a recent business forum in Cotabato City.

The MILF chief vowed to adopt the Business Sustainability Framework in the Bangsamoro (BSFB), which was initiated by the ARMM Regional Board of Investment (ARMM-RBOI) and anchored on the inclusive business model, in attracting new investments to the BARMM.

The Australian government-funded Brokering Business Investments in the Bangsamoro to Achieve Inclusive Development and Growth or BRIDGe project enabled the crafting of the BSFP.

ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman expressed confidence the new Bangsamoro region can build on the gains of the existing 28-year-old autonomous Muslim region.

Citing data from the ARMM-RBOI from 2012 to 2018, Hataman, ARMM’s seventh governor, said the region accumulated investments worth P20 billion that generated 15,000 jobs.

ARMM straddles the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-tawi.

Maguindanao is the region’s top investment destination, bagging P14.8 billion or 74 percent of the approved ventures in the region from 2012 to 2018, regional government data showed.

Some companies in Maguindanao are producing and exporting Cavendish banana to China, Japan and the Middle East.

Hataman believed the future “will remain bright” for the Bangsamoro people under the new political entity, as he called on voters to participate in the plebiscite to ratify the Bangsamoro organic law set on January 21 and February 6.

The organic law is the key component of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, the final peace deal signed in 2014 by the government and the MILF.

Once ratified, the BARMM will replace the ARMM.

Once the BARMM is in place, the MILF will lead the interim Bangsamoro Transition Authority. The MILF central committee had endorsed Murad to lead the transition government until the regular elections in 2022.

Lawyer Ishak Mastura, ARMM-RBOI chairperson, said that the years of cumulative growth in investments of at least P1 billion annually in the region was largely due to the success of the government-MILF peace process.

“The window of investment growth in the ARMM will require more nurturing and active stewardship by the leaders (of the future BARMM) in order to sustain the gains of the region,” Mastura said.

ARMM holds the distinction as the country’s poorest region with a poverty incidence of 48 percent, ARMM-RBOI data showed. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)

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