COTABATO CITY: Investment pledges in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) grew by nearly 74 percent to P3.65 billion in the first six months of 2017 amid the conflict in Marawi City that started in the third week of May.
“Despite the Marawi crisis, the investment prospects of ARMM continue to show signs of resilience and dynamism because the [Marawi] crisis area has effectively been contained by the government,” said Ishak Mastura, chairman and managing head of ARMM’s Regional Board of Investments (RBOI).
The first-half figure rose from the P2.1-billion tally recorded in the same period last year.
The agency has so far registered three major projects this year.
The first is the P32-million fish processing and cold storage project of Abing Seafoods and Cold Storage in Bongao, Tawi-Tawi that will allow fisherfolk to process, store and preserve their catch.
The second is the P33.5-million cargo shipping project of J. Sayang Shipping Lines, Inc., also in Bongao, Tawi-Tawi, for inter-island trade as well as cross-border shipping with Sabah, Malaysia.
Lastly, RBOI approved the P3-billion telecommunications carrier project of TierOne Communications International, Inc. (TierOne) for the region. The company’s original plan was to start with a rollout program in Marawi City. Because of the military offensive, however, TierOne had to re-evaluate the plan.
The Marawi rollout, company officials said, would still be implemented but in coordination with the rehabilitation and reconstruction program of the government. In the revised plan, the company said it would first roll out a pilot program by building facilities in the ARMM compound in Cotabato City that would serve regional agencies. TierOne will eventually cover the entire region with its P3-billion investment, but can still expand and infuse additional capital as needed.
TierOne’s project will cover cellular service in the 2G, 3G, 4G and LTE networks, as well as broadband wireless internet, for homes and enterprises. It will also provide WiFi for public or common areas.
Mastura said he expected more investments to come in during the second half of the year.
“We expect banana plantation investments in Maguindanao to continue with hundreds of millions worth to be registered this year with RBOI. There is a port services project worth P100 million, a bulk water treatment project worth around P200 million, and a cacao plantation project that will pour in P1 billion, all of which will hopefully be registered this year,” he added.
RBOI provides fiscal and non-fiscal incentives to ARMM investors. In 2015, the agency recorded a total of P6.5 billion in investment pledges, the biggest in the history of the ARMM.