By Ali G. Macabalang
The overall economy of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao is steadily growing despite adversities wrought by the coronavirus pandemic, according to the BARMM’s Regional Board of Investment (ROBOI).
In a report published by the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on Jan. 2, RBOI Chairman Ishak Mastura even aired optimism for brighter prospects this year and beyond due the region’s improving peace and order condition.
In earlier reports, Mastura attributed the stabilizing security situation to the silencing of guns by majority combatants of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front prescribed in the revolutionary group’s major peace accords with the government that led to the establishment of the more autonomous BARMM governance in 2019.
Mastura said his optimism was bolstered by the upcoming influx of investments in the region worth P14-billion mainly from the Community Wireless and Power Corporation (CWPC), an internet-developing company, within this quarter.
He said the RBOI has just approved the CWPC application to invest in the region, the first-ever in the advent of the 10-month economic crisis brought by the pandemic. The internet firm eyed the progressive town of Wao in Lanao del Sur as pilot area for its project, he said.
In 2019, the RBOI had recorded PHP4.1 billion investments, which included the Lamitan Agri-Business Corporation that signed up to pour in P1.8-billion capital for Cavendish banana plantations in Basilan province.
Other investors were the JMI Sand and Gravel Truck Services Corporation with investments worth PHP1.4 billion in Maguindanao; the Maguindanao Corn Development DSA-1 Corporation worth PHP515 million located in Datu Saudi Ampatuan of the same province, according to RBOI data.
In the same year, the Wao Development Corporation also invested PHP306-million for a new pineapple packing plant in Wao municipality, Lanao del Sur; and the Hong Kong Feng Sheng Heritage Philippines Inc. based in Balabagan, Lanao del Sur started opening P100- million abaca fiber processing plant, the regional data showed.
Lawyer Mastura said agriculture has remained as a major focal investment sector in the region, pointing out that most if not investors in farming activities have steadily survived in the pervasion of COVID-19 pandemic.
“The agricultural sector has somehow managed to assuage the crunch brought by the effects of Covid-19 in the region,” Mastura said.
He said BARMM remains a good choice for agriculture-based investments in the south, with this city as investment center.
With the BARMM’s recent formal acquisition of supervision authority over the fast-progressing city, prospects have heightened for more investments to come this year, particularly in banking and finance.
Mastura noted that the city is situated in the heart of Central Mindanao, a strategic financial center having the most number of branches from both government and private banking institutions. AGM