Traders remain bullish on M’danao

The business community in Mindanao remains bullish on economic prospects in the south despite the hostilities, saying there has never been a better time than today to realize the region’s growth potentials.

In an open letter to the public, the Mindanao Business Council (MBC), chaired by Jojie Ilagan Bian, said it fully supports the peace process in the South, but stressed that it also condemns all acts of terrorism, banditry, kidnaping and other illegal activities committed by armed groups.

“We want the entire world to know this, there has never been a better time in which to do business in Mindanao,” the MBC said in the statement signed by Bian and top executives of over a dozen Mindanao-based business groups.

“There has never been a better time in Mindanao to realize its potential as a peaceful and prosperous region where the private sector, local and national government, and civil society can work together in partnership,” it said.

A copy of the MBC statement was sent to Press Secretary Ricardo “Dong” Puno Jr.

The group likewise appealed to the media writing and broadcasting reports about Mindanao to ensure that their accounts of the situation remain fair and accurate.

The group expressed disappointment over news reports that tend to distort public perception about Mindanao, which they said, may hurt the economy and strain the ties among Christians, Muslims and other sectors in the region.

“We appeal to those members of the media whose stories picture the entire island of Mindanao as a war zone to be fair to Mindanaoans by making their reportage as accurate as possible,” the MBC said.

The group pointed out that the recent headlines picturing Mindanao as a war-torn area “does not represent the full story of Mindanao, which after all has over 10,000 barangays and 400 municipalities,” it said.

“For every trouble spot in Mindanao, there are literally thousands of cities, towns, and small communities in which industries are growing, trade is flourishing peace and order reign, and people go about their daily lives with hope and confidence in the future,” the group said.

It said the distorted news reports about Mindanao are “hurting our economy and straining the social fabric which we have been painstakingly building through years of cooperation and community between the Muslims Christians and Lumads of our region.”

“In recent years,” it added, “we are proud to say, Mindanao has made amazing strides in development. The private sector and government have worked closely together to build infrastructure, increase trade and investment, and to secure a place for Mindanao in the national and global community.”

Public investments in Mindanao has risen dramatically since the second half of 1998 as President Joseph Estrada followed through on his campaign commitment to erase during his presidency the decades-old neglect of the island.

In keeping with this pledge, Mr. Estrada has anchored his government’s centerpiece program of food security via agricultural modernization on the conversion of Mindanao into the country’s food basket.

During his Feb. 26 – March 2 visit to Mindanao, Mr. Estrada unveiled P23.7 billion worth of projects of the Department of Agriculture, all aimed at transforming the South into the premier food provider of the country. Mr. Estrada’s six-day trip was the longest stay in Mindanao by a sitting president.

In a Friday briefing, the President stressed that, “We are ready not only to talk peace but also to build a peace founded on sincerity and mutual trust – to pursue the comprehensive program of reforms addressing the legitimate grievances of Mindanaoans.”

Manila Bulletin

Published in: on May 8, 2000 at 8:36 pm  Comments Off on Traders remain bullish on M’danao  
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