Monthly Archives: October 2014

BIMP-EAGA meet generates P6B worth of potential investments in Mindanao

BusinessWorld Online
October 29, 2014

DAVAO CITY — About P6 billion worth of possible investments in Mindanao were generated during the business matching sessions of the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines-East ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) meet held here last week, according to an official of the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA).
The proposed projects are mostly in the agriculture sector as well as logistics and information technology, MinDa public affairs head Romeo M. Montenegro told BusinessWorld.

Mr. Montenegro said that foreign companies that are looking to partner with local business players plan to set up a coffee plantation in Sultan Kudarat, as well as an information technology park in General Santos City.

Another proposed project is a warehouse in Maguindanao, several oil palm projects in North Cotabato and in the Davao Region, as well a coconut processing plant in Davao del Sur.

Har Man Ahmad, senior manager of the Malaysia Trade Office Manila, said in a press conference that five Malaysian companies are likewise looking for about 5,000 hectares each for oil palm plantations.

He said these firms are already in discussions with possible local partners

LIBERALIZATION NEEDED
One of these five Malaysian firms that have expressed interest in setting up shop in the region, Felda Global Ventures Holdings Berhad, is even considering setting up an oil palm hub in Mindanao through the inclusive growth program of MinDA, which is in partnership with the Philippine Business For Social Progress, the Malaysian trade official said.
Oil palm is among the priority crops proposed under the inclusive program.

Felda Vice-President Soh Kim Yaw however noted that the Philippines needs to first liberalize some of its policies, including its land ownership restrictions on foreign individuals and companies, in order to lure more investors into the country.

“(There must be) more liberation in regulations and land ownership in order to sustain economies of scale in oil palm plantations,” the Felda official said.

Under the MinDA inclusive growth program, the agency will assist investors in identifying the ideal locations for their planned venture.

MinDA will also help set up the support facilities for these ventures and establish links with local government units and the communities.

In Davao City, two Malaysian companies recently discussed with Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte their proposals for oil palm farms in the city’s rural areas.

Some of these proposed farming areas are known lairs of the left-wing group New People’s Army (NPA).

Mr. Duterte has called on members of the NPA to pave the way for the entry of these companies, which, the official noted, will provide them with job and livelihood opportunities. — Carmelito Q. Francisco

OIC reaffirms support for Mindanao peace process

The Manila Bulletin
Edd K. Usman
October 14, 2014

The 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) yesterday reaffirmed its continuing support for the Mindanao peace process, as it convened the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) meeting in Makati City.

At the meeting, OIC Secretary General Iyad Ameen Madani conveyed this strong message to senior MNLF and MILF leaders to lay down the ground rules for the activation of the Bangsamoro Coordination Forum (BCF).

Madani ascended to the OIC as the new head of its General Secretariat in January, 2014.

He dispatched to Manila his special envoy for peace for Southern Philippines, as it appears the pan-Islamic body is growing impatient over the slow progress of the June 12, 2014 agreement to activate and make the body operational.

SPECIAL ENVOY

His special envoy, Ambassador Sayyed Kaseem El-Masry, convened the meeting yesterday in Makati where the leaders of the two groups discussed issues surrounding the BCF.

In his opening remarks, he said Madani sent his greetings to the MNLF and MILF leaders present and through them the whole Bangsamoro people his heartfelt greetings and wishes on the celebration of Eid’l Adha, the Feast of Sacrifice.

The OIC secretary general “asked me further to assure you that he and the entire OIC Membership will continue their engagement with the peace process in Mindanao,” said El-Masry.

Also present at the meeting was Egyptian Ambassador Mahmoud Mostafa. Egypt chairs the Peace Committee for Southern Philippines (OIC-PCSP), which handles the “Question of Muslims in Southern Philippines” for the OIC.

BROTHERHOOD AND RECONCILIATION

El-Masry recited two verses from the Holy Qur’an to stress Muslims’ duty to unite: “Help one another in righteousness and piety, but help not one another in sin and rancor; fear God, for God is strict in punishment.” Surah Al-Maidah, Verse 2.

Brotherhood and reconciliation (Surah Al-Hojourat, Verse 10), he said, is the “motto of Islam.” He again emphasized the vital need for the MNLF and the MILF to get their act together and move further the agreed “cooperation and coordination among themselves and to jointly address the concerns confronting the Bangsamoro people.”

ATTENDEES

Some of the MNLF leaders present were former Cotabato City Mayor Muslimin Sema, Randolph Parcasio, Habib Mujahab Hashim, Alvarez Isnaji, Utto Salem Cutan; for the MILF, Mohagher Iqbal, Prof. Aboud Syed Lingga, Hadji Abdullah Camlian, and Jun Mantawil.

Parcasio and Sema thanked the OIC secretary general, welcoming his efforts to continue its support for peace in Mindanao and the Moro people.

The meeting went into a close-door mode after the opening ceremony in the morning.

El-Masry said that the secretary general instructed him and his delegation to come to Manila “to meet with you and offer whatever help is needed to move things.

TIME IS A PRECIOUS ASSET

“The most precious asset a human being has is time. We have already lost two precious months and so let us have a solemn pledge not to waste any more time,” he said, reiterating the two agenda items, such as the BCF’s activation ad operationalization and continuing to engage in dialogues.

He recalled that the 41st Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers (OIC-CFM) called upon the secretary general to exert his effort to close the gap between the MNLF and MILF leaderships’ positions. It also urged him to call an urgent meeting of their leaders “in order to find a way for the two peace tracks to merge instead of colliding.”

El-Masry was referring the 1996 Final Peace Agreement (FPA) of the MNLF and the Philippine government (GPH) and the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement (CAB) of the MILF and the GPH.

The OIC delegation also includes Charge d’Affaires Hassan Alabdein, of the OIC’s Department of Communities and Minorities, and Saidu Dodo.