THE BUSINESS community and a cluster of mayors in Maguindanao are backing the proposed transfer of the Bangsamoro political capital to the town of Parang, citing opportunities for increased trade and last week’s signing of a local peace accord to protect economic development initiatives.
“We support the proposal to establish a new BARMM (Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) regional government center in the municipality of Parang,” Bangsamoro Business Council Ronald Hallid D. Torres said in an interview on Saturday.
He said the move will open opportunities for entrepreneurs and traders to expand their businesses in the coastal municipality, which is just less than 30 kilometers away from Cotabato City, currently the political and commercial center.
“Most importantly, it will improve the investment climate in Parang and towns around that are still recovering from the adverse effects of decades of secessionist strife,” Mr. Torres said.
Mohammad O. Pasigan, chairman of the Bangsamoro Regional Board of Investments, said building a multi-billion government complex in Parang will entice more investors to fund agricultural ventures in Maguindanao del Norte’s adjoining towns of Parang, Sultan Kudarat, Sultan Mastura, Matanog, Barira and Buldon.
“We are sure of that,” Mr. Pasigan said on Saturday.
The towns are located within what is called the Iranun Corridor, home to the Iranun indigenous group whose ancestors include the 16th century Muslim leader Sultan Kudarat and other local chiefs who fought against Spanish, American and Japanese presence.
On May 4, the mayors of Parang, Sultan Mastura, Buldon, Barira and Matanog held a ceremonial signing of a covenant establishing the Iranun Corridor for Economic, Environment and Public Safety Council.
The pact, a result of a focus group discussion led by local organization TASBIKKA, Inc., lays out a uniform policy to prevent violent conflict in the area and aims to enhance support to reconciliation and unification efforts.
Maguindanao del Norte Gov. Abdulrauf A. Macacua said he and mayors in his province are in favor of the transfer of the BARMM capitol.
“It will have a good effect on the economy of the municipalities of the Iranuns in Maguindanao del Norte and the Maranaos in Lanao del Sur,” he said.
Bangsamoro Transportation and Communications Minister Paisalin P. Tago said Parang also has the advantage of being the site of Polloc Port, which can be used for domestic and international shipping services.
“The setting up of a new BARMM capitol in Parang will benefit my province, Lanao del Sur, too,” Mr. Tago, also a member of the 80-seat Parliament, said on Saturday.
The establishment of a new regional center in Parang was recently filed before the BARMM Parliament under Bill No. 43. — John M. Unson