By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat
It is business as usual in the whole of Mindanao and the entire country where investment pledges rose again by 30 percent as of May this year, according to Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon M. Lopez.
“In general, investment pledges to Mindanao are not affected except Marawi for now because if you talk of plans in Mindanao, they will continue. If there is construction, I don’t think why it will not proceed because the situation is contained only in Marawi,” Lopez told reporters covering the launch of the National Intellectual Property Strategy at Fairmont Hotel.
Lopez, who is chairman of the government’s premier investment promotion agency the Board of Investments (BOI), said that investment pledges registered with the BOI rose to close to 31 percent as of May this year. In the January-April this year, BOI approved projects rose by 31 percent.
“I did not hear of an investor pulling out or holding back investments and we are even going for a double-digit growth in investments up to May,” he said.
The local stock market has remained upbeat ever since the Maute group attacked Marawi City a week ago and remained high even after the declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao.
“Precisely, that is what I’ve been saying that the sentiment is not there. It is business as usual because what the Martial Law meant was really just to secure peace in the region. As a result of the declaration, everybody felt secure and that the President having gone back immediately from Russia showed he is in control,” he added.
Lopez explained that the only issue is the perception on the declaration of Martial, but stressed that this measure is preventive so that the threats to peace and order will not spread out of Marawi City, but is contained in a smaller area in Marawi.
“If I were a businessman, I will prefer that because I feel safer,” he said stressing that the government cannot wait for the situation to get out of control in Mindanao thus the declaration of Martial Law in the country’s largest island grouping.
Lopez said he cannot also recall of any particular big investment for Marawi that maybe affected by the situation in the area. But said that even if there is an investor, he was confident that the project will push through once peace and order in the area has been restored.
“If we are able to eliminate terrorism because that is not inherent to Marawi, it will go back to normal and investors in Marawi will also come back,” he added.
The trade and industry chief did not even see the need for him to talk to the business community because business groups, particularly the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, have expressed support for the declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao.
But Lopez expressed hope for the situation in Marawi to be resolved soon.
On the fear that President Duterte might expand the coverage of Martial Law to the entire country, Lopez said that although he is not part of the Cabinet cluster in charge on this issue he did not hear of any such proposal in the Cabinet.
“Maybe it was mentioned before but as you can see the focus now is only Mindanao because that is where the risk is,” he said.
He, however, said that the issue of a nationwide Martial would really depend on the situation.
Tags: investment pledges, Investment pledges gain 30% as of May, investment promotion agency, Marawi City, martial law, National Intellectual Property Strategy, Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon M. Lopez