THE country’s oldest business group on Thursday came out in support of President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao, saying terrorism needed to be wiped out to allow economic development.
In a statement, the Chamber of Commerce of the Philippine Islands said it “supports the declaration of Martial Law for 60 days in Mindanao by President Rodrigo R. Duterte in defending and maintaining the safety of the Filipino people and proclaiming the sovereignty of the Republic against [Islamic State] and all terrorists.”
“As the oldest business institution since 1886, the Chamber has witnessed the rise and fall of freedom, peace and prosperity in the country,” it said.
“Acts of terrorism by [the Islamic State]and similar groups must not be allowed to even germinate; we are one with the world in protecting peace, security and safety as pre-requisites to progress and prosperity,” the group added.
On Thursday, economic and political experts said martial law in Mindanao, even for just 60 days, would be good for the country, saying it would stabilize the nation, allow consistency of policies, and bring peace and order resulting in business productivity.
In the “Pandesal” forum at Kamuning Bakery in Quezon City, experts Antonio Valdez, Celso Cainglet, George Siy, Ado Paglinawan, Herman Tiu Laurel and Rod Kapunan pointed out that President Duterte was facing enormous problems ranging from poverty to drug addiction and geopolitical conflict.
Although martial law is confined to Mindanao, it will have good spillover effects in the Visayas and Luzon, they said, noting that the Abu Sayyaf in recent months was able to spread terror in Bohol and Palawan islands in the Visayas.
“It’s better to prevent it from spreading, nip it in the bud as they say,” said Valdez, a former undersecretary of
education. He was referring to the Maute group that occupied some areas in Marawi since Tuesday.
“The Philippines has turned into the center of meth production (shabu or methamphetamine hydrochloride acid) and we are now exporting it. This is very dangerous,” he said, claiming terrorists have also evolved into drug traffickers, funded by drug lords, kidnap-for-ransom gangs and big-time robbers backed by ex-politicians.
“Imports pass through Customs. Shabu chemicals enter the country. If shabu chemicals do not pass Customs, they must have entered through the borders,” Paglinawan said.
Laurel said “the President and his men should resolve all these problems as quickly as possible to stabilize the nation.”
Cainglet said “Maute is moving everywhere. You can’t confine them in one area. They are moving and so the problem is spreading since people where they go are misplaced.”
Siy, a businessman, said martial law does not matter at all for businessmen. With the “Build Build Build” infrastructure strategy of the administration, what is important is to determine if projects are worth investing in.
“The government has to prioritize them, see to it that they are productive,” Siy said.