Posted August 29, 2010
The concerns, which were deemed needed to improve the business climate in Zamboanga Peninsula, as well as in the three island provinces of Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi, were outlined in a resolution drafted at the end here last Aug. 27 of the two-day 6th Zamboanga Peninsula Business Conference.
The four-page resolution was submitted to Tourism Secretary Alberto A. Lim, who represented President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III during the conference.
“We want the President to order his Cabinet to look at these pressing issues,” Edgar M. Bagarinao, Philippine Chamber of Commerce, Inc. regional governor for Western Mindanao, said in an interview over the weekend.
On the need to improve the regionâ€™s electricity supply, the resolution said “the key strategy for regional development, as identified by the Zamboanga Peninsula Business Council, is the inclusion of the region in the priority areas for the development of new alternative energy sources through the use of any of a number of new, clean and renewable energy technologies such as windmills, solar cells, hydro-dams, and wave current generators.”
The entire Mindanao island has just emerged from a crippling power shortage in the first half that involved power outages that stretched for most of the working hours. The problem eased with the end last June of the prolonged dry spell and the filling up of dams that power hydroelectric plants, which meet half of the entire islandâ€™s power needs.
As of yesterday, however, Mindanao still had thin reserves of just 51 megawatts, according to the Web site of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines.
The resolution also stressed the need to consult businesses on steps to resolve the decades-old secessionist problem. This, as a deal MalacaÃ±ang had proposed to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in 2008 fell through amid an outcry over the inclusion of predominantly Christian areas in an expanded autonomous Muslim region.
“Zamboanga Peninsula… has, time and again, been plunged into crisis due to the constant and incessant demand of the parties to the peace process to include the region in its entirety, or parts of it, in efforts to either expand an existing autonomous region or be included as an integral part of a new and expanded homeland for a specific segment of Filipino society,” the resolution read.
“The business community is the first victim of these resulting crises; it drives away tourists and investors, thereby resulting in the loss of business opportunities in the region. Questions of ancestral domain claims and similar demands likewise endanger the security of current and future investments in the region.”
The resolution also pressed the government “to look into the competitiveness of Zamboanga Peninsula routes… by strictly regulating and… lowering exorbitant rates levied by shipping cartels and/or monopolies of existing route operators.”