DAVAO CITY: Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Friday assured Davao businessmen that the fear that people had imagined with the declaration of martial law and suspension of the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao is unfounded.
He said people in Mindanao now feel safe with martial law and the intensified institution of security measures by local government units in coordination with the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police.
This was pointed out to officers and members of the Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. (DCCCI) during its 8th general membership meeting at the Grand Regal Hotel here.
President Rodrigo Duterte named Lorenzana as administrator of martial law in Mindanao that he declared on May 23.
Business leaders in Davao City and the rest of the region are asking about the status of the declaration of martial law in Mindanao, the reason why Lorenzana was invited to the event, DCCCI president Ronald Go told The Manila Times before the start of the program.
“We want to hear developments in Marawi and the ongoing efforts to rehabilitate the area so that people there can also rebuild their lives,” Go said.
He added that Lorenzana’s updates will also help the business sector plan and move forward despite the current situation in Mindanao with martial law in place.
Go expressed optimism for good prospects in business in the Davao region, citing gains of the recent Kadayawan Festival here.
“We have proven that security is not a problem during the Kadayawan Festival. As long as we prioritize the safety of the people, then our businesses can move on,” he said.
Go added that residents and local and foreign tourists felt secure while watching the various events of the festivity last week.
“The Kadawayawan celebration was an acid test for us, a challenge. But we succeeded,” he said, adding that hotels in Davao City were fully booked for more than a week during the celebration.
As the country’s Defense chief, Lorenzana can also provide the business sector with prospects on resolving the communist insurgency, particularly extortion activities of New People’s Army [NPA] rebels, Go said.
“He can provide us with a bigger picture,” according to him, saying previous administrations had seemingly sidetracked the problems on insurgency, leaving businesses no choice but to pay the NPA “revolutionary” tax..
“Every sector must contribute to ending these extortion activities, not only the military,” Go said.
Lorenzana told the DCCCI members that various business groups have already brought their complaints against the NPA’s extortion activities to his office.
He pointed to a report that the rebels are amassing about P1.2 billion a year from mining companies in Mindanao.
“Do not give in to their demands. If the sources of their funds run dry, their activities will also decrease and eventually end their movement,” Lorenzana said.
ALEXANDER D. LOPEZ