Businessmen bullish on Bangsamoro peace plan

by Lore Mae Andong, ABS-CBN News Central Mindanao

Posted at Jan 16 2013 08:29 PM | Updated as of Jan 17 2013 04:29 AM

COTABATO CITY, Philippines - Businessmen in Central Mindanao and ARMM support the Bangsamoro peace framework agreement between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

In a roundtable discussion initiated by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) in Central Mindanao on Wednesday, businessmen expressed their desire to get involved in the Bangsamoro peace discussions.

PCCI Central Mindanao Governor Perfecto Marquez told ABS-CBN News they are interested on how to strengthen the business sector before Bangsamoro replaces the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Marquez said empowering the business sector in the framework agreement is important.

"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 also have high expectations on the framework agreement, believing it will have a positive result on the economy.

However, they also identified problems encountered in previous years that need to be resolved, such as lack of infrastructure and import and export policies.

Polloc Port in Maguindanao is underutilized, or perhaps mismanaged, according to Marquez.

Similar issues were also raised on airport facilities and road networks that bring goods and commodities to the region.

Metro Cotabato Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Dr. Danda Juanday said the national government should address the problems encountered by the business sector in the ARMM.

Businessmen plan to draft a resolution that lays out the business sector's agenda in the framework agreement and crafting of the basic law.

This will be submitted to the government and the MILF.