By EDD K. USMAN, SDN, Twitter @edd1819, Instagram @bluestar0910, Facebook: SDN — Science, Digital & Current News
NEEDLESS to say, the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) highly welcomes investors and partners.
With just one catch: four bottom lines.
The words of BARMM Interim Chief Minister Ahod Balaway “Al-Hajj Murad” Ebrahim reverberated at the Maynila Room of the historic Manila Hotel.
Sustaining investors’ confidence
It was the 1st Bangsamoro Global Economic Summit staged on August 19 to highlight the BARMM’s quest for peace and progress in general and in particular the much-awaited rehabilitation and reconstruction of war-ravaged Marawi City, Lanao del Sur.
Ebrahim, the chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), described as “such gargantuan task” the newly-minted region’s goal to “finally address” through its economy “the decades-old problem of poverty and all its attendant effects, such as lack of easy access to and good quality education, health problems, lack of other basic services, opportunities for personal and collective growth, and widespread pessimism and distrust, especially with people in authority, the government included.”
He delivered the keynote address for the summit organized by the Bangsamoro Federal Business Council, Inc. (BFBCI) and its partners.
The Chief Minister of the Bangsamoro cited the important relationship between the public and private sectors in the region, saying it plays a vital role in uplifting its economy in particular and the nation in general.
“I am thrilled that many private enterprises, both local and foreign, continue to show interest in investing in the region. It is a manifestation that these investors trust the success of the peace process between the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation.”
He expressed thanks to the investors for their support to the Mindanao process and Bangsamoro region, more so the BARMM is still in transition period.
On the other hand, Ebrahim assured the Bangsamoro Government’s constant work aimed at making attractive the regional economy to local and external players, as well as being open and competitive, and be able to sustain the confidence of investors.
The gargantuan task before of regional government, he said, starts with the basic step of “continuing to improve the security situation in the region.”
He vowed to “not stop pursuing a just and long-lasting peace in the region.”
Ebrahim equated stable peace to development. “And development means a better life for our constituents.”
BARMM Interim Chief Minister Al-Hajj Murad Ebrahim (with cap), and Nasraili Conding (right), BFBCI president. (Photo: SDN — Science and Digital News)
He is counting on investments growth in the region to not just raise its economy but also impacts through a huge positive effect the lives of people in its communities.
“New business operations mean new job opportunities and employments. These employments will surely help uplift the lives of our poor and low-income communities.”
The Bangsamoro Chief Minister recalled the annual block grant (Php70 billion) under the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) as well as the national government’s share over some taxes and revenues the BARMM will retain.
BARMM’s four bottom lines for investments
“With the increased budget for the BARMM plus our improved economic ties with local and foreign investors, I am confident that a promising future awaits the Bangsamoro people,” he said in optimism.
He assured the people of Marawi, the Philippines’ only Islamic City, that one of the BARMM’s 12-point priority agenda of the Bangsamoro Government concerns its intent to contribute to the ongoing rehabilitation, and reconstruction, and recovery of Marawi.
“I hope that after this summit, with our strengthened partnership with the private sector, we will be able to generate economic activities that will be very beneficial to the rehabilitation, reconstruction and recovery master plan for Marawi,” the Chief Minister said, as he called on everyone to do their share to help Marawi’s population reclaim their formal lives, morale and livelihood.
On the other hand, as he recalled explaining to members of the Philippine Mining Club (PMC) on August 9 in Makati City in his message, the Bangsamoro Government has four bottom lines vis-a-vis investments.
They are people, planet, profit, and purpose.
People as “crucial bottom line” is the ultimate goal of the region’s economic development towards full employment, human development, and social justice.
Planet, he said, refers to economic development that maintains ecological balance and ensure that the BARMM’s natural resources are preserve for the future generations.
Profit, relates to businesses’ return of investment (ROI), otherwise no investor will come to the Bangsamoro and forfeits any benefits for the communities.
Purpose, he considers the most important. “We want to change our situation from injustice to justice, from poverty to prosperity, from marginalization to participation. In effect, we want to change. Change is the purpose. It is a bottom line.”
“Profit, yes but please include also the people, the planet and, yes, — the purpose for all of this — which is change for the good.”
For Marawi, Ebrahim recalled at the summit that he already pitched for the city’s rehabilitation and reconstruction during a recent donors’ forum in Davao City.
“I told the international aid organizations that Marawi must be quickly rehabilitated and reconstructed as every delay is an opportunity for violent extremism to use it for propaganda and recruitment.
“Besides, immediate rehabilitation of Marawi is both right and just thing to do.”
In relation with this, the Bangsamoro Chief Minister already ordered the regional government’s concerned agencies to make Marawi City and its environs a priority, particularly in the construction of houses for the internally displaced residents (IDPs).
He assured that the BARMM leadership’s desire is for the IDPs to return now to their original residences. Ebrahim was obviously alluding to tens of thousands of displaced residents still unable to go back to where their houses once stood before the five months-long Battle of Marawi in middle of 2017.
“But in the meantime that such is not yet possible, we want the IDPs to have decent shelters. Rest assured that I shall not stop asking the National Government, as I have already done before in our last audience with His Excellency President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, for the eventual return of the displaced residents of Marawi City.”
After his delivering his message at the summit, delegates including foreign and local dignitaries and guests mobbed Ebrahim to have a selfie. (SDN)