ARMM investments grow at P3.65 B despite Marawi crisis
COTABATO CITY – The investments in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) remain resilient and growing, posting a total of P3.65 billion in the first six months of 2017 notwithstanding the conflict in Marawi City that started in the third week of May.
“Despite the Marawi crisis, the investment prospects of ARMM continue to show signs of resilience and dynamism because the crisis area has effectively been contained by the government,” said Lawyer Ishak Mastura, chairman and managing head of ARMM’S Regional Board of Investments (RBOI).
The first half’s figures reported by the RBOI are higher by almost 74% compared with 2016’s total registration of P2.1 billion. The agency has, so far, registered three major projects this year.
The first is the P32-million fish processing and cold storage project of Abing Seafoods and Cold Storage located in Bongao town in Tawi-tawi province that addresses the needs of fisher folks in the province to process, store, and preserve their seafood catch.
Second is the P33.5-million cargo shipping project of J. Sayang Shipping Lines, Inc., which is also based in Bongao for inter-island trade, as well as for cross-border shipping with Sabah, Malaysia. Lastly, RBOI approved the P3-billion telecommunications carrier project of Tierone Communications International, Inc. (Tierone) for the region.
The company’s original plan was to start with a rollout program in Marawi City. Due to the current crisis, however, Tierone had to re-evaluate such plan. The Marawi rollout, company officials said, will still be implemented but in coordination with the rehabilitation and reconstruction program of the government.
In the revised plan, the company said it will first rollout a pilot program by building facilities in the ARMM compound in Cotabato City that would serve the regional agencies. Tierone will eventually cover the entire region with its P3billion investments noting there remains a provision for expansion and infusion of additional capital as needed.
Tierone’s project will cover cellular service in 2G, 3G, 4G, LTE and broadband wireless internet to homes and enterprises as well as Wifi for public, or common, areas. Chairman Mastura said he expects more investments coming in during the second half of the year.
“We expect banana plantation investments in Maguindanao to continue with hundreds of millions worth to be registered this year with RBOI. There is a port services project worth P100 million, a bulk water treatment project worth around P200 million, and a cacao plantation project that will pour in P1 billion, all of which will hopefully be registered this year,” he said.
RBOI provides fiscal and non-fiscal incentives to ARMM investors. In 2015, the agency registered a total of P6.5 billion, the biggest in the history of the ARMM.