(COTABATO CITY, June 27, 2017). The ARMM Business Council (ABC) as the umbrella organization of business chambers and trade associations in the region expressed their support to the call for an all Moro convention in order to foster stability in the area. This was learned by the Regional Board of Investments (RBOI) after the conduct of their investment roadshow for Maguindanao last week.
Dr. Rima Hassan, chairperson of the ABC said that the Marawi siege has definitely affected business prospects in the region and there is need for a stable environment for doing business to attract the needed business investments.
“We want the business sector in ARMM to be part of ongoing discussions on changing the policy environment with regard to the peace process and how it affects doing business in the region. There is already considerable physical safety concerns and bringing new rules of the game for business will have to be carefully considered. I am referring to the two peace tracks of the MILF and the MNLF. That’s why the business sector is supportive of the government’s all Moro convention as announced by Mindanao Development Authority secretary Datu Abul Khayr Alonto,” said Hassan.
“We believe the all Moro convention can effectively become a platform to address the particular conditions of our respective localities. For example, the business issues in the island provinces of ARMM tend to be more concerned with fostering cross-border trade with BIMP-EAGA particularly, Sabah, Malaysia. That means trading facilities and access to cross-border credit lines,” added Hassan who hails from Basilan.
For Hassan, policy instability in the midst of the Marawi siege and its aftermath is the last thing the business sector needs in the ARMM.
Hassan said in order for the peace process not to be left only in the hands of the Moro fronts and their followers and for there to be wider buy-in, there is a need for an all Moro convention that can bring the whole of Moro society to deal with governance and societal issues that affect the business environment in ARMM.
According to her, MNLF and MILF still need the support of various constituencies in the ARMM so that an all Moro convention that is not dependent on both the MNLF and MILF peace tracks but allows real inputs into it is sorely needed. After all, Hassan said the MNLF and MILF will also be part of such an all Moro convention.
The call for an all Moro convention was echoed by Soliman Santos, a leading scholar on the Moro peace process, strategic thinker on Mindanao issues and an original peacebuilding advocate on the Moro fronts.
“My developing or working hypothesis arising from the Marawi Siege is that the strategic situation on the Moro front has changed qualitatively. Under my framework for the 2005 Philippine Human Development Report I referred to the three tracks of the Moro conflict: (1) implementation of the GRP-MNLF 1996 Final Peace Agreement; (2) the GRP-MILF peace negotiations, (now implementation of its 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro); and (3) ASG-led post-9/11 terrorism (now with the ISIS-inspired Maute Group taking center stage in 2017) and counter-terrorism on the Moro front. The qualitative rise of the latter 3rd track with the ASG-Maute-et al. alliance and its bold holding ground in Marawi has suddenly changed the strategic balance. The usual peace process approach with the 2nd and 1st tracks with the MILF and MNLF, respectively, while still very important, will not be enough to address the new strategic situation,” said Santos.
“I think it is time to re-strategize the way forward with the same three tracks but more coherently dealing with all tracks rather than separately dealing with each track as has been the usual mode. We once proposed an All-Moro convention, which may be one important even key step, that can be geared to such re-strategizing”, added Santos.
Santos was glad that the government is now seriously considering and putting in place the platform for an all Moro convention.
Recently, RBOI conducted its second investment roadshow in their series of investment roadshows. The second roadshow held in Tacurong City was specifically for Maguindanao and surrounding provinces in southern Mindanao. The roadshows seek to promote industries prioritized by RBOI under the Investment Priorities Plan 2017, which grants fiscal and non-fiscal incentives to investments in these industries. RBOI also regularly solicits the sentiments of the business sector on issues of the day such as the proposed all Moro convention.
SOURCE: ( RBOI )
June 28, 2017 @ 13:55