MANILA - Investors are still keen on Mindanao, even as troops battle Islamic State-inspired extremists in the south, a government official said Friday.
Tourism in the region has been affected "a little," but it will be temporary, said Datu Abul Khayr Alonto, chairman of the Mindanao Development Authority.
"In fact, with or without this Marawi siege, we will be pursuing this. It cannot derail the developments we are sharing," Alonto told ABS-CBN News at the sidelines of the Davao Investment Conference.
The government has lined up several infrastructure projects for the President Rodrigo Duterte's home region, including the 2,000-kilometer Mindanao Railway.
The first phase of the Mindanao Railway, which will connect Tagum, Davao Del Norte to Davao City and to Digos, Davao del Sur, is scheduled for completion in 2021.
The government is also opening up the Tawi-Tawi Free Economic Zone and Free Port.
"Eventually, this Tawi-tawi Free Economic Zone and Free Port, coupled with implementation of barter trade, will help provide jobs and into the prosperity in this part of the country," he said.
Alonto said he supported Duterte's proposal to extend martial law in Mindanao until year-end.
"If we cannot finish it down there, I’m telling you and I’m telling this nation that it can happen anywhere, in your cities. As the saying goes, if you take us in the evening, in the night, they will come for you in the morning," he said.