June 4th, 2014
Phil Daily Inquirer
Grig C. Montegrande
MANILA, Philippines—The United States (US) is now seriously considering investing in Mindanao, Malacañang said on Wednesday.
Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said US Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker’s courtesy call to President Benigno Aquino III on Wednesday morning included discussions on reforms and trade between the two countries.
“We spoke about potential areas of US investment in the Philippines, and…they are looking at the potential areas of investments: car manufacturing, energy, infrastructure in Mindanao, infrastructure on mass transit, and also tourism,” Lacierda said during the televised press briefing.
He explained that the government’s peace pact with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has resulted in a better outlook for Mindanao.
“I suppose everybody is interested in investing in Mindanao because it’s really an area where there is a lot of promise. But because of the issue on the MILF before, there was great concern whether those investments can be—whether it is wise to invest in Mindanao,” he said.
“Now that we have come to a peaceful agreement with the MILF, many countries have been looking at Mindanao as a potential area for investment,” Lacierda added.
Lacierda said the United States and other member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) have expressed interest in the region.
During US President Barack Obama’s first state visit to the Philippines last April, he said Pritzker and a delegation of American businessmen will be coming to the country “to explore new opportunities.”
Aquino has drawn international praise for his government’s Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front after decades of conflict.
The government is now racing against time to submit the draft Bangsamoro basic law to Congress in the hope of getting it approved by year-end and ratified by the Bangsamoro people next year.
During the courtesy call, Pritzker “praised, complimented the President on his leadership, and also congratulated the President on all his accomplishments and what he has done for the country,’’ Lacierda said.
Pritzker and the delegation of American business leaders arrived in Manila for a series of meetings with government and business leaders to discuss how the country could continue developing a fair business climate, reduce market access barriers and increase transparency, the US Embassy said.
Pritzker would also deliver a major address on America’s economic engagement in the Asia-Pacific region, it added.