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Don’t rush, trader says of  Bangsamoro peace transition

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 19 March) — A senior executive from Mindanao’s private sector has expressed support for the extension of the transition deadline of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), saying that such additional legroom “will further contribute to economic stability in the region.”

Antonio Peralta, chair of the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP)-Southern Mindanao Business Council acknowledged in a statement that the reason stakeholders have been clamoring for an extension of the transition period is to “help lay down the best foundation for governance.”

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Supporters of the extension of the Bangsamoro transition period for another three years stage a rally outside the Philippine Senate in Pasay City where the Committee on Local Government was holding its first hearing on Senate Bills 2019 and 2025, which propose the rescheduling of the first election of the 80 members of the Bangsamoro Parliament from May 2022 to May 2025. Photo courtesy of Mindanao Peoples Caucus

He admitted that “the time given for this to happen is unrealistically short,” and that “building the capability to effectively (steer the region towards growth) takes time.”

The date after which the new BARMM will become a permanent peacetime entity after decades of conflict was originally set by law on June 30, 2022, when the  80 members of Parliament, elected on May 9, 2022, shall have taken their oath of office.

But both Muslim and Christian business and political leaders have called to stretch the extension to 2025 and seven bills have been filed in Congress – five in the House of Representatives and two in the Senate – supporting extension by postponing the first BARMM election to May 12, 20225.

Peralta said he was keen on seeing a business environment in the BARMM that is “more absorptive of new capital and responsive to opportunities.”

He said this impetus can happen and be sustained “only if an extension is granted, thereby providing the region enough room to flex and optimize its economic potentials.”

The ECCP has brokered at least six agricultural deals between the BARMM and private agribusiness companies. These formal agreements dwell on food production, research and development, rice and vegetable farming, and the establishment of demo farms and laboratories.

This is our modest contribution to government’s steadfast efforts to bring lasting peace in Mindanao,” Peralta further said. (Nikki Rivera Gomez / MindaNews contributor)


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