DAVAO CITY, Philippines: Officials of the government agree to support a common program of an entity under Malacañang and another in the Bangsamoro region, meant to generate investments for five southern provinces.
The Southern Philippines Development Authority (SPDA) and the Regional Board of Investments-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (RBOI-BARMM) have signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) recently here in this city binding both to cooperate on promotion of businesses in BARMM.
Lawyer Ronald Hallid Dimasicil Torres, president of the BARMM Business Council, said last week the MOA is a boost to cross-section efforts of promoting the Bangsamoro region as a potential investment hub.
The Bangsamoro region covers Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, all still recovering from the effects of decades of secessionist war.
The MOA was signed by the administrator and chief executive officer (CEO) of SPDA, Abdulghani “Gerry “ Salapuddin, and the chairman of RBOI-BARMM, lawyer Ishak Mastura of Maguindanao.
Salapuddin, a former top leader of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in Basilan belonging to the “Bombardment” batch of the MNLF and Mastura who are both supporters of the peace process between the national government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
The chairman of the MILF’s central committee, Ahod “Al Hajj Murad” Ebrahim, is the appointed chief minister of BARMM.
“The BARMM Business Council appreciates this good effort of the SPDA and the RBOI. We shall be their partners in implementing that MOA,” Torres said.
Officials of the Ministry of Labor and Employment-BARMM were glad with the crafting of the SPDA-RBOI agreement too.
Regional Labor Minister Romeo Sema said Sunday improvements in the business atmosphere in BARMM’s five provinces shall, as an immediate effect, generate employment.
“Employment is one of several solutions to domestic peace and order problems. Me and my subordinate officials in the Bangsamoro labor ministry are to support that SPDA-RBOI agreement,” Sema said.
Sema is vice chairman for political affairs of the MNLF that signed a final peace agreement with Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) on Sept. 2, 1996.
Bai Sandra Siang, president of the Muslim Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Cotabato, Incorporated, said they shall help the SPDA and RBOI forge ahead with objectives of the MOA.
Siang said the SPDA’s economic intervention for BARMM can also help correct wrong notions about the security situation in the Bangsamoro autonomous region.
“Our crafting of the MOA marked the beginning of cooperation between the SPDA and the RBOI,” Salapuddin said.
He said the MOA that he and Mastura crafted complements the peace and development agenda of BARMM’s charter, the Republic Act 11054, also known as the Bangsamoro Organic Law.
JULMUNIR I. JANNARAL