MILF: Firms vow to pour P16B investments in Muslim Mindanao PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 24 May 2015 15:01

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on Saturday announced that firms from the private sector will invest in Muslim Mindanao badly affected by armed conflict.

Mohaqher Iqbal, Moro Islamic Liberation Front chief negotiator, said traders told him of their desire to help Muslim Mindanao recover and be at par with other regions in the country.

Iqbal said he received the information at the sidelines of Bangsamoro Business Forum in Makati City, organized by the Philippines Business for Social Progress and the World Bank.

He said the private sector is going to invest USD 6 million to develop areas in Mindanao badly affected by conflict.

The amount will be backed by the World Bank and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JIAS).

Iqbal was invited and spoke about the peace process and the Bangsamoro Basic Law. (BBL)

“The invitation is a proof that even business groups are supportive of the peace deal and the proposed Bangsamoro Law. Once realized, the amount will also bring fresh development to the area even if the BBL is not passed by Congress,” Iqbal said.

The forum focused on investment opportunities, drew more than 80 participants from the government and the private sector, including Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. chair Manuel V. Pangilinan and Ayala Corp. chair and CEO Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala.

“What we have are hard commitments from a number of companies that will total up to about USD 6 million in investments. That will be in bananas, pineapples, coffee and cacao,” said John Perrine, chair of Unifrutti Group Philippines.

“There are some fears that no one will go, no one will invest. These are people who are ready to invest today, without waiting any longer as soon as the funds are available,” Perrine said.

Perrine noted that the investments, which he described as an initial figure, would create around 22,000 jobs across 18,000 hectares of land.

Filipino companies like San Miguel Corp. earlier expressed interest to invest in conflict areas in Mindanao.

“We have 12,000 combatants with the MILF and other armed groups. The biggest problem is lack of jobs and livelihood. This is something that will provide for them directly,” Perrine said.

Also being evaluated are infrastructure projects to facilitate the flow of investments to the Bangsamoro, Richard Bolt, Asian Development Bank country director, said.

He cited the Western Mindanao Road Project, which will cover about 500 kilometers of road rehabilitation and upgrades. Bolt said other projects were being evaluated, adding the need was “massive.”