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No ABC again until end of ARMM officials’ term on September 30

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/14 August) —  There won’t be any regional-wide business congress for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) until the end of the term of duly elected officials on September 30 but the 1st ARMM Seaweeds Congress will be held in Zamboanga City on  September 15.

The last time an ARMM Business Congress (ABC) was held was in 2009 in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur. The 7th ABC was held on August 5 and 6.

In November that year, 58 persons were killed, 32 of them from the media, in what is now referred to as the worst pre-election violence in Philippine history. The massacre implicated several members of the Ampatuan clan, including ARMM Governor Zaldy Ampatuan, who is presently detained along with other suspects.

With Ampatuan in jail, ARMM Vice Gov. Ansaruddin Alonto Adiong assumed the post of OIC Governor by mid-December 2009. The three-year term of office of the incumbent ARMM officials is until September 30 this year. From September 30, 2011 to June 30, 2013, ARMM will be governed by officers in charge appointed by the President to “reform” the ARMM.  RA 10153 passed on June 6, reset the August 8, 2011 polls to May 13, 2013 and allowed the President to appoint OICs. The Supreme Court has yet to issue its decision on several petitions filed before it questioning the constitutionality of the law.

The supposed annual ABC started in 2002 to promote the trade and economic potentials of the predominantly Muslim region. No ABC was held in 2010.
Rosslaini Alonto-Sinarimbo, a senior trade specialist in the regional Department of Trade and Industry, said there was no ABC in 2010 because the ARMM leadership decided to refocus its economic strategy.

She told MindaNews that the ARMM economic team has decided to pursue a business conference that would focus on a specific industry in the
region The 1st ARMM Seaweeds Congress will be held on September 15 in Zamboanga City, she said.

Sinarimbo, wife of ARMM executive secretary Naguib Sinarimbo, said the congress will discuss new technologies for seaweeds, marketing,
financing, the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area cooperation on seaweeds and biotechnology and its acceptability
in the halal industry, she added.

She said part of the ARMM’s refocusing of its economic strategy, includes the declaration of Polloc Port as Freeport and Barangay
Polloc in Parang, Maguindanao, as Economic Zone.

The Adiong administration also operationalized the Regional Economic Zone Authority, where Sinarimbo is also executive director.
“The main thrust of the economic team is to integrate ARMM in the BIMP-EAGA and revive our trading partnership initially with Malaysia using the Freeport of Polloc,” she said.

ARMM officials went to Malaysia on a trade mission last December 2010 for economic cooperation talks, she said.

In  April 2011, a maiden voyage sailed from the Polloc Freeport to Sandakan, Sinarimbo said, adding they are positioning the region as supplier of raw materials for the halal industry of Malaysia and Brunei using the freeport. (Bong Sarmiento/MindaNews)

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