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Our Mindanao 5

Our Mindanao 5

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Published by Aveen Acuna-Gulo
Volume 2 No 5
August 8, 2013

A better perspective on Mindanao is from within
Volume 2 No 5
August 8, 2013

A better perspective on Mindanao is from within

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Published by: Aveen Acuna-Gulo on Aug 22, 2013
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05/10/2014

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1OUR Mindanao
I
8 AUGUST 2013
 
2
I
OUR Mindanao8 AUGUST 2013
IN FOCUS
Last year, Mindanao earned atleast $3 billion from agriculturalexports, accounting for 60percent of the country’s totalagricultural exports, data fromthe Mindanao DevelopmentAuthority (MinDA) showed.The total exports of the island,including non-agriculture basedcommodities grew by 16.7percent with a value of $4.187billion in 2012 from $3.588 billionin 2011.The 16.7 export growth inMindanao is more than doublethe country’s 7.6 percent increasein exports last year.Mindanao’s top 10 exportmarkets are the United Statesof America, Japan, China,Netherlands, South Korea,Singapore, Switzerland, UnitedKingdom, Germany andMalaysia.“We should be proud to beMindanawons because we’rerich. The potentials of Mindanaoare far larger than any placein the entire Philippines,” saidbusinessman John Gaisano Jr.,referring to the vast fertile lands,bountiful seas and massivemineral wealth lying in theisland.
Gaisano says he rmly believes
that Mindanao can grow big timesooner with proper directions setinto motion by both the publicand the private sectors.This year, Gaisano isoverseeing a major event to
Ready for the ASEANEconomic Community in 2015?
BONG SARMIENTO
in Davao City 
Take away Mindanao from thePhilippine equation and the country’sagricultural production will drasticallyplummet.
address what has not been doneand what could be done forMindanao.
ChartingMindanao’s direction
Now on its 22
nd
year, theMindanao Business Conference(MinBizCon), the largest annualgathering of government andbusiness leaders and membersof chambers of commerce inthe island, takes centerstageon August 8 to 10 at the SMXConvention Center here with thetheme “Moving Towards ASEANBusiness Integration.”The MinBizCon is an initiativeof the Philippine Chamber ofCommerce and Industry (PCCI).As MinBizCon 2013 conferencedirector, Gaisano has beenpulling the strings to make thebest out of the conference that
was rst held in this city in 1992.
MinBizCon 2013 was supposedto have been hosted by OzamizCity but it backed out and thehosting was eventually acceptedby the Davao City Chamber ofCommerce and Industry, Inc.(DCCCII), on short notice.“This conference will pavethe way for a better Mindanao.It will be very different fromthe past conferences because wemade sure that “it’s the output ofMindanawons, by Mindanawonsand for Mindanawons,” Gaisano,also a DCCCII trustee, told
MindaNews on July 29.
With just a few monthspreparation, Gaisano said theywere able to build a powerhousecast of speakers never beforeassembled in the history of theMinBizCons.Aside from President BenignoSimeon Aquino III, the majorspeaker for MinBizCon 2013, 14Cabinet secretaries and senior
government ofcials, as of the
 July 30 program, were slated toaddress the most pressing issuesaffecting the business sector inMindanao.The issues they will address
are based on the ve regional
consultations MinBizCon 2013organizers conducted a fewmonths ago, Gaisano said.Mindanao, the second largestisland in the Philippines,comprises 26 provinces, 33 cities,
422 towns and six regions: 9
(Zamboanga Peninsula), 10(Northern Mindanao), 11(Davao), 12 (SouthwesternMindanao, also known asSoccsksargen), Region 13(Caraga) and the AutonomousRegion in Muslim Mindanao.Based on the regionalconsultations attended by atleast 250 local business andindustry leaders, organizers ofthe MinBizCon 2013 crafted aneight-point policy agenda forsubmission to the President.These issues are Agriculture,Power, Tourism, Transport andlogistics, Skills development,Small and MediumEnterprises, Information andCommunications Technology,and Mining.“It is imperative for thenational government to addressthose concerns because ifprovided the support, it will notonly help the poor but propel theeconomy of Mindanao to greaterheights,” Gaisano said.
Not a war zone
Surprisingly, the eight-pointpolicy agenda of the MinBizCon2013 did not include the peaceprocess between the governmentand the Moro Islamic LiberationFront (MILF), which is gainingpositive strides such as thesigning of the FrameworkAgreement on the Bangsamoro(FAB), two of the four required
annexes, and a ceasere that hasbeen holding in the last ve years.
Signed on October 15 last year,the FAB serves as the frameworkfor the comprehensive peaceagreement between thegovernment and the MILF,the largest Moro armed group
ghting for self-determination in
the last few decades.Under the FAB, both partiesagreed to work for the creationof a new autonomous politicalentity that would replace theAutonomous Region in MuslimMindanao (ARMM) by 30 June2016.Mindanao also hosts thebiggest concentration of theNew Peoples’ Army (NPA) in
 
3OUR Mindanao
I
8 AUGUST 2013
the country, in the Caraga andDavao regions.Gaisano explained that whilepeace continues to be a concernfor the business sector, it is notthe only problem of Mindanao
and the conict is just contained
in certain pockets of the island---away from the big economicand industrial hubs such as thecities of Davao, Cagayan deOro, General Santos and otherbooming localities.“Mindanao is not a war zone.It is generally safe to live in mostparts of the island and park yourinvestments here,” he stressed.He appealed to the mediato be more circumspect when
reporting on conict and not to
make it appear that the whole
island is on re.
Organizers are expectingat least 1,000 local and foreignparticipants to the conferencehere. Gaisano said that throughMinBizCon 2013, participantsand the larger public “will begiven a good perspective ofwhat’s happening in Mindanao.”Ricardo Juliano, MinBizCon2013 conference chair, stressedthat the event is so importantthat instead of resolutionspassed on to the President andCabinet secretaries at the end ofthe conference, they will nowpresent an eight-point Mindanaobusiness policy agenda.He said they will track down ifgovernment acts on them, throughthe Mindanao DevelopmentAuthority (MinDA), a stateagency created to integrate peaceand development initiatives inthe island.
Wider opportunities
 Juliano, also PCCI vicepresident for Mindanao, said theconference will help Mindanaoprepare for a bigger market andopportunities that will arise as aresult of the looming integrationof ASEAN economies.According to the ASEANwebsite, the ASEAN EconomicCommunity (AEC) that willintegrate the economies ofthe 10-member states will“transform ASEAN into aregion with free movement ofgoods, services, investment,skilled labor, and freer flow ofcapital.”The member-countries ofthe Association of SoutheastAsian Nations (ASEAN) areBrunei Darussalam, Cambodia,Indonesia, Lao People’sDemocratic Republic, Malaysia,Myanmar, Philippines,Singapore, Thailand and VietNam.In anticipation of theASEAN economic integration,conference organizers adoptedthe theme “Moving TowardsASEAN Business Integration.”In simple terms, the ASEAN“will become one big singlemarket and productionbase,”Juliano explained.The integration also seeksto make the ASEAN “a highlycompetitive economic region,a region of equitable economicdevelopment and a regionfully integrated into the globaleconomy.”The AEC areas ofcooperation include humanresources developmentand capacity building;recognition of professionalqualifications; closerconsultation on macroeconomicand financial policies;trade financing measures;enhanced infrastructure andcommunications connectivity;development of electronictransactions through e-ASEAN;integrating industries acrossthe region to promote regionalsourcing; and enhancing privatesector involvement for thebuilding of the AEC.The AEC will transformASEAN into a region with freemovement of goods, services,investment, skilled labor, andfreer flow of capital, accordingto the group’s website.“The ASEAN economicintegration is an opportunityto be a lot better and forMindanao particularly, it is anopportunity to shine,” Julianotold MindaNews in GeneralSantos City on July 30.He recalled that in oldentimes, Mindanao “was the frontdoor of the country” in terms ofBut business leaders like JohnGaisano and Ricardo Julianoadmit there’s a lot of hard workto do before Mindanao can takeadvantage of the opportunitiesthat the AEC is expected tobring.Among these are better farmto-market roads, stabilizingthe island’s power situation,
easier access to nancing for
MSMEs, skills improvement ofworkers, and improving otherinfrastructure necessary toattract investments to the island.But what about the threatsthat accompany promises ofopportunities?The other sectors. particularly
labor, sherfolk and farmers, are
obviously still studying whatthe AEC’s impact will be. Joel Virador, former BayanMuna Representative, nowBayan Muna Executive VicePresident, acknowledges theneed to study the implications ofthe integration which is barelytwo years away.According to the ASEANwebsite, the ASEAN EconomicCommunity or AEC “shall bethe goal of regional economicintegration by 2015” whichenvisions “a single marketand production base, a highlycompetitive economic region,a region of equitable economicdevelopment, and a regionfully integrated into the global
Who’s afraid of the ASEAN EconomicCommunity?
Mindanao’s business sector is sayingit is advantageous to Mindanao,citing the 600 million population ofthe Association of Southeast AsianNations (ASEAN) as a potentialmarket when the ASEAN EconomicCommunity begins in 2015.
economy.”The AEC areas of cooperationinclude human resourcesdevelopment and capacitybuilding; recognition of
professional qualications;
closer consultation onmacroeconomic and
nancial policies; tradenancing measures;
enhanced infrastructure andcommunications connectivity;development of electronictransactions through e-ASEAN;integrating industries acrossthe region to promote regionalsourcing; and enhancingprivate sector involvement forthe building of the AEC. Inshort, the AEC will transformASEAN into a region with freemovement of goods, services,investment, skilled labour, and
freer ow of capital.
The ASEAN Leaders adoptedthe ASEAN Economic Blueprintat the 13th ASEAN Summit on 20November 2007 in Singapore toserve as a coherent master planguiding the establishment of theASEAN Economic Community.For a copy of thefull textof the ASEAN EconomicCommunity Blueprint,
http:// www.thailandaec.com/images/ stories/document/ASEAN/AEC_ blueprint.pdfc Community 2015
 
(MindaNews)
 trading because of the island’sproximity with neighboringMuslim-dominated countries,particularly citing the RoyalSultanates in mainlandMindanao back then as effectivepolitical and economic powerhouses.The Philippines is a memberof the nearly two-decade BIMP-EAGA (East ASEAN GrowthArea) comprising Brunei, EastIndonesia, East Malaysia andthe Philippines’ Mindanao andPalawan.For the 2015 integration ofASEAN economies, Juliano saidthat Mindanao has competitiveedge with its still vast fertilelands, tourism spots andgeographically closer locationsto some countries in the ASEANregion like the predominantlyMuslim Indonesia, Malaysiaand Brunei.
600-M ASEANpopulation as market
It is also a good opportunity forMindanao’s food manufacturingsector to capture a biggermarket by focusing on halalproduction, Juliano noted.With at least 600 millionASEAN population, half of thatMuslims, our manufacturersshould consider the halalindustry, which also includesnon-food products, as aconsiderable moneymakingmill, Juliano said.Both Juliano and Gaisanoagree that there’s a lot of hardwork to do for Mindanao tofully take advantage of the vastopportunities that the ASEANeconomic integration offers.Among these are better farmto-market roads, stabilizing theisland’s power situation (
see pages 4 to
), easier access tofinancing for MSMEs, skillsimprovement of workers, andimproving other infrastructuresnecessary to attract investmentsto the island.“Let’s finally get our acttogether now to bring Mindanaoto further greater heights,”Gaisano said.

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