Businesses throw support for Bangsamoro

By Lore Mae Andong, ABS-CBN News Central Mindanao

Posted at Jan 16 2013 05:42 PM | Updated as of Jan 17 2013 01:42 AM

COTABATO CITY, Philippines – The business sector in Central Mindanao and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) is showing support for the Bangsamoro Framework Agreement between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

In a round table discussion initiated by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) Central Mindanao on Wednesday, the business sector expressed its interest to be involved in the peace agenda now that peace and order in the southern part of Mindanao is progressing.

PCCI Central Mindanao Governor Perfecto Marquez told ABS-CBN News that he is very much interested on how to strengthen the business sector before the Bangsamoro takes the place of the current ARMM, which is said to be a “failed experiment”.

Marquez said empowering and getting the business sector involved in the framework agreement is in preparation for the Bangsamoro.

"Tayo muna makinabang and at the same time putting in place lahat, para maganda naman tingin ng local investors, then foreign investors will have confidence kasi peace is always a catalyst for investments," Marquez said.

Some businessmen put high expectations in the framework agreement believing this will give positive result to the economy.

However, the business sector has identified problems encountered in the previous years that need to be resolved, such as lack of infrastructure and import and export policies.

The Polloc Port in Maguindanao, for instance, is underutilized and perhaps mismanaged, according to Marquez.

Metro Cotabato Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Dr. Danda Juanday said if these problems encountered by the business sector will not be addressed by the national government, the situation will remain the same.

The business sector plans to draft a resolution through consensus decision by all businessmen in Central Mindanao and ARMM that will lay out the business sector's agenda in the framework agreement and crafting of the Basic Law.

This will be submitted to both government and the MILF.

The PCCI, meanwhile, vowed to continue the advocacy to empower the business sector and awaken the government on concerns and what needs to be done in this part of the country.