Local industry promotion sustains drive against poverty in ARMM PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 26 August 2011 14:56

Industry, not politics, serves as the flagship of economic prosperity of nations. I cannot paraphrase exactly the thesis of an article I read more than a decade ago. But indeed it meant that way.

The writer substantiated it with the examples of the British Empire with its East India Company, the United States and Japan with their global industrial might as well as of lesser nations and entities whose industry sectors created so much economic prosperity and political power. South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam are on the rise.

That leaves any well-meaning Muslim hard put in finding a number of Muslim nations that could come near this category.

Then sometime in 2003 came Samuel Huntington’s “Class of Civilization” book which helped me gain a little bit more insight into the economic state of the Muslim world, including our own Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

The book reinforces long-standing and damaging misperceptions such as the “notion that Western and Muslim civilizations had little in common…and that Islam and modernity are inherently incompatible.”  This is borne by the judgment based on the scientific and economic superiority achieved by the western civilization over that of the Muslims all over the world.

Nevertheless, Nazeer Aziz Ladhani, chief executive officer of the Aga Khan Foundation Canada, pointed out that “What clouds our understanding of this issue — and exacerbates efforts within the Muslim world to demonstrate the fallacy of the Islamic versus modernity dialectic — are the poverty, ignorance and isolation endemic to the developing world, where the majority of Muslims live.”  And so there lies the crux of writer Huntington’s thesis.

Poverty and its attendant features such as the prevalent lack of the economic uplifting force of industries, has come at the center of the Muslim dilemma.  In the so-called developing world where most of the poor Muslim nations belong, poverty alleviation has become a focus for much of the efforts of governments and developmental bodies in the world today.

The United Nation’s Millennium Development Goal is that of halving or reducing to 50% the global poverty incidence.  The ARMM, with its more that 60% poverty incidence, understandably the highest in the country, has not been fairing well in recent decades. The unresolved Moro political/territorial problem and the unshrinking poverty incidence continue to necessitate external impetus for economic advancement.

The Japanese government, thru the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has been helping the ARMM since 2004 to enhance its social and economic condition.  JICA provided support to the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries to enhance a Rice-Based Farming System and as well as various support towards the early efforts to develop Halal industry. Numerous JICA social and infrastructure support programs are indeed making significant contribution in the overall effort to lift the region from the ashes of decades-long war.

The recent launching of the JICA funded Development Study on Promotion of Local Industry in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (LIP-ARMM) comes as another welcome development as it sustains earlier efforts, particularly the Halal Food Industry Development initiatives. And it opens another opportunity for the ARMM development agents in working up our regional economic dilemma.

Reporting back to DAF after my short stint at DTI-ARMM, it was a delight to renew my team-up with the top guns of the agency.  ASec Tess Maguindra, CEO VI, was designated LIP Focal Person for DTI, and Dr. Baks Datumanong a resource person for One Town One Product. I also got my LIP Focal Person-DAF designation. And so back to work for the thing that interests us most, being part of the effort to mitigate poverty incidence in ARMM, though one very tall order it might seem.

Local Industry Promotion aims to develop businesses. It will encourage the emergence of innovative kind of entrepreneurs and industry leaders who could produce more goods and values for our local agri-fisheries and other resource endowments for the purpose of creating livelihood and jobs.

Joblessness and poverty help fuel our current peace and order problem which is generating dire consequence on the lives of thousands of people in evacuations centers, in the slums of population centers and elsewhere.

Industries, no matter how our regional political entity will evolve, will be our flagship carriers towards social and economic development. But, for now, such flagships cannot launch their voyages into the competitive sea without political will – meaning:  full measure of required governmental equity. — PIA