LOUD WHISPER| On the Bangsamoro Dev’t Plan… Will it propel our economy?

THERE have been many diverse opinions on the progress of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB). Many fear the uncertainties in their developments.

Others even question about the: 1) Assymetry. Some say the BBL won’t  be justified because the relation of the Central Government and the Bangsamoro Entity is assymetric. 2) Article 1 and Article 5 –that the 4th and the final elements are already acquired by the Bangsamoro and can be seen from the provisions of the Framework Agreement; Power sharing Agreement whereby the Bangsamoro has “the power to enter into economic agreement.”  3) The  Bangsamoro is granted all the powers of state: executive, legislative, judicial branches of government. 4) The Bangsamoro will not be a separate state from the government (which others fear) but it will be a Islamic State. (If this is so, what kind of state is this? What form of government is in the offing for the Muslims when Mindanao is still dominated or equally dominated by both Christians and Muslims?)

Of course, there are other questions and problems that are gradually surfacing and seen and they are very vague because the proposed Law is very generic. Even the business sector fear the possibilities of investments and economic growth not only in Mindanao but also in the entire country, as well.

In so far as economy is concerned, some foreigners or foreign countries/states are helping the Philippine government in establishing a peaceful Mindanao and making it one of the most economically stable partners to link with.  These foreign countries or nations include: Malaysia, United Kingdom, Japan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei Darussallam, other Islamic Nations.

Let it be recalled that our trading relationship with Malaysia started more than a century-old ago when our forefathers traded with each other in the barangays. So, what is Malaysia’s role in the peace process? It simply brokered the peace process deal. This opened the gates for more trading business.

While Malaysia is looking forward to getting business in rubber plantations and processing of rubber products in Mindanao, San Miguel Corporation has already planned  to expand and upgrade all Petron Services in Malaysia, and improve productivity of its refinery. Palm oil plantation is getting better also in Mindanao. With the Philippine-Malaysia tie-up electronic industry is seen to be progressive in both Asian countries.

In fact, last year, Malaysia is number 18 trading partner of the Philippines. It has already brought in about $4,47 billion in investment. Based on NSO, Malaysai is the Philippine’s 10th biggest trading  partner  with exchanges totalling to $3.58 billion. And the biggest investment in Malaysia from the Philippines comes from San Miguel Corp., Pancake House, URC Foods and Century Packaging.

The Philippine Government is also encouraging Islamic Banking to take roots here. This will allow new opportunities by catering to the vital financial needs of consumers in Mindanao that would help them stabilize their economy.

“The creation of a new market in both government and private corporations thru Islamic Banking will allow these sectors to deeper access, more diverse pool of potential  investment and funnel future growth . This is the perfect month for the Philippines to join Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Brunnei to open up new banking channel for the economy thru Islamic investment from all over the world,”  a report said.

According to official documents, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) is supposed to be only 1.5 million hectares. But according to latest records, it has expanded to 2.9 million hectares which has doubled its area and speculations have it that there has been overlapping of ownership of lands in the Region. The cadastral survey will be done, according to reports in 2015.

Six months ago, the President bared that government allocated a budget for the Bangsamoro infrastructure projects at P5.17 billion, so he is pushing hard for the effectivity of  BBL but he would like to make sure that law will be precise, accurate, just, and acceptable to all the Bangsamoro people.

With the passage of BBL, the Bangsamoro will receive “block grants”  from the Philippine government to equip the regional government with crucial resources that can facilitate the solution of our socio-economic problems.

Agriculture, agribusiness and fisheries are the sunshine industries that are being encouraged in the Bangsamoro. There are reports of agribusiness groups like the banana industry that is gearing wide-scale  transfers to the Bangsamoro.

For me, though, I opine that the Development Plan of the Bangsamoro government must be studied, reviewed and scrutinized further. The plan seems so simple, yet it is so complicated because Mindanao is a melting pot. Mindanao is an island that is inhabited by many tribes and ethnic groups and Christians with diverse culture and tradition.  Once implemented, it is like eating “halo-halo” or  fruitcocktail salad.  So sweet, so delicious but if eaten too much, or too little, it  might spoil one’s stomach or  appetite.

I just hope that indeed the result of the proposed Bangsamoro Entity with its BBL will address the economic needs of the Mindanaoans.  (FVS)

Posted in Opinion