DAYS after the declaration of martial law in Mindanao, business and economic activities in most parts of the island remain normal.
Business leaders, in a phone interview Thursday, that amid the Marawi siege, which started May 23 perpetrated by the local terrorist group, Maute, they are closely monitoring the developments of the situation.
“It's business as usual in most part of Mindanao except Marawi. At the moment the effect is minimal but I think this will hasten the solution of some of our security and Peace and Order problems,” Vicente Lao, chair of the Mindanao Business Council said.
Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (DCCCII) president Ronald Go urged businessmen both local and foreign to continue its business transactions here.
“Initially, this (Marawi incident) may lead to short term setbacks as investors may be wary of the implications of a state of martial law but as a community, this should be looked upon as a short term sacrifice that will ensure our long term progress,” Go said.
He added that the Davao Chamber is confident that the measures being taken by the government will appropriately address the threats to the security of Mindanao.
Mindanao Development Authority Deputy executive director Asec. Romeo Montenegro said the movement of people and goods would be expected to go through enhanced security checks, as local authorities, through Regional Peace and Order Councils, had activated mechanisms for heightened alert and vigilance.
Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA) executive director Stephen Antig said if the peace and order situation improves, investors are seen to be more aggressive in pursuing expansion plans.
“But if it will worsen then I believe they will consider other options to protect their investments,” Antig said.
No pulling out of investors
Antig underscored that, so far, they have not received any inquiry from foreign buyers or investors regarding the situation.
Davao City Investment Promotions Center officer-in-charge Lemuel Ortonio, echoed this, saying the city has not received any information from investors pulling out any potential investments or projects.
“Similarly, we received no untoward comments from our foreign chamber partners,” he said.
However, Ortonio admitted that they have received postponements of certain activities and visits supposedly set on June this year.
But he was quick to add that such is normal, especially in this kind of situation.
“Ortonio emphasized that the city is still open for business. It's just that safety and security is still of primary concern,” he said.
With the situation, one of the most affected sectors is tourism.
“We have yet to obtain projected figures reflecting possible effect of Marawi incident and martial law declaration to Mindanao's tourism industry. Suffice to say travel advisories and heightened security would weigh in on tourists' decisions to either postpone or move ahead with planned events or trips,” Montenegro said.
For instance, the Sarangani Provincial Government announced on Wednesday, May 24, to cancel this year’s staging of Sarangani Bay Festival or Sarbay Fest, in sympathy to residents of Marawi City and support to any action being undertaken by the government.
In 2016, the festival attracted more than 150,000 foreign and local tourists pouring millions of revenues for the provincial government.
Meanwhile, City Tourism Operations Office head Generose Tecson, in an interview on Wednesday said that tourism activities in the city are “business as usual” and urged tourists and locals alike to be prudent in all their activities.
“We believe that the situation won’t last long, it will not affect the Visit Davao Fun Sale and the most anticipated Kadayawan festival,” she said.