|Mindanao Still in Business, Says Private Sector|
|Tuesday, 26 August 2008 01:45|
DAVAO CITY—Despite the armed clashes that have taken place in parts of Mindanao in recent days, business activity continues across the region, say private sector leaders.
“Obviously, businesspeople are concerned and are closely monitoring events, but business activity goes on as usual,” said Vicente Lao, chairman of the Mindanao Business Council and of the regional development council in Region 11.
“These things have happened before and you just take them in stride,” Lao said. “The benefits you stand to gain from doing business in Mindanao still far exceed the risks you factor into locating here.”
Davao City’s Kadayawan Festival was in full swing last weekend, and front desk staff at the Marco Polo Davao and other hotels said that they were fully booked.
Organizers of upcoming business events in the region have announced that they will proceed as planned. Among them is the 17th Mindanao Business Conference, which will be held this week in Dipolog City, Zamboanga del Norte.
“Since participants have committed themselves to attending the MinBizCon, and the PNP [Philippine National Police] and AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines] have guaranteed security, there is no reason not to push through with the event,” said Dipolog city mayor Evelyn Uy last Friday.
The Dipolog Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which is hosting the conference, issued a statement saying: “Our place is among the most peaceful in Mindanao.”
In the southern Mindanao agro-industrial hub of General Santos City, known as a global center for tuna processing and canning, preparations for the annual Tuna Festival are already underway.
Domingo Teng, a director of the city’s chamber of commerce and industry, says that General Santos’ export sectors have not been affected: “Canneries are still working, and new foreign buyers are still coming in. Others will be attending the 10th National Tuna Congress. They still want to do business here.”
In Basilan, one of the southernmost provinces, the flow of agricultural produce into Lamitan City’s port from surrounding municipalities has increased. “They want to get harvests in before Ramadan begins next week,” said Jann Jakilan, president emeritus of the Autonomous Basilan Islamic Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “The RORO port is operating as usual.”
Elpidio Paras, past president of the Cagayan de Oro Chamber of Commerce and Industry Foundation, expects tourism to be affected in the near term, particularly whitewater rafting tour operations.
“However, exports continue, especially of commodities like pineapple and banana,” said Paras. “This has been a good year for the entry of locators in service industries related to agribusiness, such as cold storage plants and container terminals for both international and domestic destinations.”
Cagayan de Oro will hold its annual festival next week, Paras said. “We strongly feel we have to show the rest of the world we are not fazed by recent events.” He added: “Here in Cagayan de Oro, there’s a lot of tolerance. Different groups live and work side by side peacefully.”
Lao said he would like more indication in media reports of the distances between cities named in news datelines and the areas where violent incidents have taken place.
“For example, Davao City is 600 kilometers away from where some of the fighting was last week,” Lao pointed out. (GEM)
Published in Gold Star Daily, August 27, 2008; The Mindanao Daily Mirror, August 26, 2008; Mindanao Times, August 26, 2008; Zamboanga Times, August 26, 2008; The Daily Tribune, August 26, 2008; The Manila Times, August 26, 2008; Manila Bulletin, August 26, 2008; Business World, August 26, 2008; www.sunstar.com.ph, August 26, 2008; www.gmanews.tv, August 26, 2008 and in www.inquirer.net, August 25, 2008.