PORT OPERATOR Bangsamoro Terminal Services, Inc. (BTSI) is investing P129 million in the Polloc Freeport and Economic Zone in Maguindanao, which is being positioned by the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) as a halal hub.
BTSI, recently registered with the ARMM-Regional Board of Investments, will seek to improve port operations and cargo access in the central Mindanao area, particularly Maguindanao as well as the provinces of North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, and Lanao del Sur.
BTSI’s investment is expected to support the Mindanao Economic Corridor strategy, according to Secretary Abul Khayr D. Alonto, Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) chair.
“The development of the port will significantly reduce transport cost of products and spur economic activities in the South Central Mindanao Development Corridor, and will easily open up more direct links for international trading for this area,” Mr. Alonto said in a statement released yesterday.
MinDA’s Economic Development Corridors, which group areas within Mindanao and identifies specific strengths, are designed to make the island competitive with the rest of the country as well as within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations
In February, MinDa and the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA), along with other government agencies, signed an agreement to pursue the creation and development of regional economic zone initiatives in Mindanao.
In January, ARMM Governor Mujiv S. Hataman officially declared Polloc Freeport a “halal hub.”
“The ARMM government is continually working to open the possibilities to the halal market in the region as well as in the country that serves as a gateway to the multi-trillion dollar halal industry,” Mr. Hataman said.
The declaration of a halal economic zone is intended to attract local and foreign investors to export and import halal products and services.
Meanwhile, BTSI Manager Luigi Piccolo V. Peña, said in the statement that aside from cargo handling activities, the company, which has about 230 workers, also provides trucking services to shippers at the Polloc Freeport.
BTSI was formerly the PTC Mindanao Port Services, Inc. (PTC-MPSI), which was acquired by Lamsan Holding Corp. that took over Polloc port’s operations. — Carmelito Q. Francisco