Mindanao Development Authority (Minda) Chairman Luwalhati Antonino said on Monday that the successful resolution on the Zamboanga crisis will result in the province and region getting back on track economically, while progress on the peace process will “not go down the drain.”
“Whatever Mindanao earned in the recent years will not be lost because of this armed conflict,” said Antonino, referring to the Aquino administration’s goal to improve the province in long term and in an inclusive manner, and to recover fully from the crisis.
Despite the crisis, Antonio said that the Board of Investment (BOI) saw an increase in its projects for the Zamboanga Peninsula region to P80 billion in the first half of this year, a 960-percent increase from the P7.6-billion investments recorded in the same period in 2012.
Antonio said that the focus is now on the implementation of post-conflict rehabilitation in affected areas in Zamboanga, with the city suffering an estimated economic daily loss of P331.37 million from the crisis.
“These are significant losses, but we believe that Zamboanga City can overcome these given its strong capacity for growth,” said Antonino, while adding that the Zamboanga Peninsula posted a gross regional domestic product (GRDP) of 12.4 percent last year, the highest among 17 regions in the country.
Included in the BOI-approved projects are the establishment of power generation plants in the provinces of Misamis Oriental and Davao del Sur, which have investments amounting to P57.7 billion. A 405-megawatt (MW) power plant in Misamis Oriental is currently in the works by FDC Misamis Power Corp., while San Miguel Consolidated Power Corp. is constructing two 150-MW power plants in Davao del Sur.
“We cannot disregard the fact that the Zamboanga siege may have an impact on Mindanao’s economy, but this unfortunate incident should not stray our sight in pursuing our goals for inclusive growth within the island-region,” the Minda chair said.
Ricardo Juliano, vice president of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), said that the people of Mindanao will still bounce back despite the Zamboanga crisis affecting the image of the island as an investment destination.
“We will rise again as we always have. We are pioneers and we can always rely on our pioneering spirits in safeguarding our home,” he added.
Juliano also said that the government has performed well in managing the aftermath of the crisis, but pressed that the government should intensify rebuilding efforts.
“In my opinion, this crisis was managed decisively, and I am glad that the government didn’t give a ‘free pass’ to the rebels similar to what happened during the Kabatangan hostage-taking incident in 2001, also in Zamboanga City,” he said.
Though the crisis may take a huge toll on Zamboanga’s tourism industry, Antonino said that the sector is still in the upswing in some of parts of Mindanao.
“Mindanao’s private sector has shown full support in keeping the region’s tourism sector bullish, with last week’s launch of the
‘Destination Mindanaw,’ a tour package to the island’s top tourist attractions,” she said.
The private sector-led initiative features Mindanao’s unique tourist destinations, which include lakes, waterfalls, beaches, eco-marine parks and heritage sites that will be visited through an inter-regional tour package.