Implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) will open up “vast fertile lands” in Mindanao to development projects that will eventually boost the entire country’s economy, Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said on Thursday.
“Mindanao constitutes a very big part of the nation. Can you imagine a situation where we are able to open up the entire Philippines including places like Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Maguindanao? Those of you [who]were at the Sajahatra Bangsamoro launch last year, we recalled that we saw vast stretches of very fertile land,” the Palace official told reporters hours before the formal signing of the CAB.
Coloma said cessation of hostilities and promise of enduring peace will foster growth in the regions covered by the new Bangsamoro political entity.
“If we can only increase the productivity of Mindanao, if we can only increase significantly the gross domestic product of the regions covered by this agreement, that would be a tremendous boost to the entire country,” he pointed out.
Previously, the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) said Mindanao may even surpass the growth of Luzon under an environment of peace. Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan, also Neda director-general, said maximizing Mindanao’s economic potential through a Bangsamoro economic plan will provide a stronger boost for the entire economy.
According to Coloma, all Filipinos, not only the people of Mindanao, are stakeholders in the peace process because its long-term benefits will redound to the good of all.
“Not only those in Mindanao but all Filipinos are important stakeholders in establishing enduring peace through this Bangsamoro agreement,” the Palace official said.
“And we are determined to carry out all the necessary efforts to make this peace an enduring legacy way beyond June 30, 2016,” he added. On this date, a successor to President Benigno Aquino 3rd will have taken his or her oath to lead the country until 2012.
“It is important that we get the widest and deepest support of the entire nation, not only [that of]our brothers in Mindanao,” Coloma said.
The Makati Business Club, one of the country’s influential business groups, also on Thursday said effective implementation of the peace deal will unleash the full economic potential of Mindanao.
The group added that the CAB presents a “golden opportunity” for Mindanao, particularly in agriculture and agribusiness investments, tourism and natural-resource development.
It called on the private sector to support the economic development of Mindanao and help provide more livelihood opportunities for the people there.
”Indeed, it is only through coming together as a people that the greatest of challenges can be confidently faced and surpassed.
Let us build upon this landmark achievement to bring forth a generation of peace and inclusive development in Mindanao and in the other troubled areas of our country,” the MBC said.
Rep. Sherwin Gatchalian of Valenzuea City, the vice chairman of the House Committee on Housing and Urban Development, said foreign direct investments will pour into Mindanao once the armed conflict there ends.
“Foreign investors need a peaceful and business-friendly environment. The peace pact will guarantee that the Bangsamoro will be a fertile ground for much-needed investments,” Gatchalian pointed out.
Poverty incidence in 2012 the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, which will fall under the jurisdiction of the Bangsamoro, was pegged at 48.7 percent, making it the region with the highest poverty incidence in the country.
For Rep. Carlos Zarate of Bayan Muna party-list, the work is just getting started.
“In fact, the signing of this new agreement will embolden the Moro people to be more vigilant of their rights. While a new law is yet to be passed by Congress, we have to be on the lookout [for]attempts to place the future of the Bangsamoro in the hands of people who will profit greedily from further liberalization of our economy and privatization of our basic services,” Zarate, a lawyer, said.