Economy


Gains of peace process felt as investors’ confidence soars




Posted on December 28, 2011


KORONADAL -- The “gains of the peace process” between the government and the Moro rebels have been felt in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), with record-breaking private investments posted this year in the impoverished region, an official said.

With 2011 almost over, the ARMM Regional Board of Investments (RBOI) posted for the first time private investments that exceeded the P1-billion mark, Ishak V. Mastura, the board’s chairperson, said in a statement on Tuesday.

“[The RBOI] attributed the record private investments in ARMM to the gains of the peace process, especially the peace talks between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF),” he said.

Investments

The value of investments registered in the autonomous Muslim region from January 2011 until mid-December reached P1.656 billion, the RBOI data showed. It said the P1.5-billion telecommunications project of EA Trilink Corp. was responsible for the single-biggest investment in the ARMM to date.

EA Trilink, a telecommunications company based in Marawi City, has secured a franchise from the ARMM regional assembly, Mr. Mastura said.

Its project was registered with the RBOI in the second quarter of 2011. The company is targeting to establish 2,000 electronic centers or “tele-kiosks” that will be set in 30 towns across the region.

In the third quarter, Matling Industrial and Commercial Corp. registered its P23.90-million project in Malabang, Lanao Del Sur, for the modernization and expansion of its cassava starch factory, particularly the setting up of a biomass power plant.

In the last quarter of the year, the RBOI registered the P132.34-million investment for the modernization and expansion of the palm oil mill of Agumil Philippines, Inc. in Buluan, Maguindanao.

Last year, Mr. Mastura, who is also a lawyer, said that investments registered by the board reached only P91 million. That included a biomass power project in Maguindanao and a construction project in Tawi-Tawi.

This year, he said the mechanisms on the ground of the GPH-MILF peace process, such as the Malaysian-led International Monitoring Team, helped boost investors’ confidence.

The foreign truce monitoring team managed to reduce to a minimum the armed encounters between the two parties, “signaling the continuing stability of the region and the hopeful progress of the peace talks towards a just conclusion,” Mr. Mastura said.

“The meeting of President Aquino and MILF Chairman Murad Ebrahim in Tokyo last August perked up a lot of business interest in the ARMM because investors are always looking to be [the] first-movers in any green-field area,” he added.

Both parties have resumed formal peace negotiations, brokered by Malaysia, and are set to meet again in Kuala Lumpur next month.

Mr. Mastura said that 2011 is also the first time that the RBOI has registered private investments consecutively in the ARMM, from the second quarter to the fourth quarter of the year. -- Romer S. Sarmiento