THE business sector in the country has remained progressive despite the imposition of martial law in the whole of Mindanao, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said Tuesday.

DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez said the government was "pleasantly surprised" that investments in the country continue to come in, even after President Rodrigo Duterte placed Mindanao under military control.

"We're pleasantly surprised that on the business sector, it's not affected [by the declaration of martial law in Mindanao] because the businessmen, they really look into the longer term potential of a country and the fundamentals," Lopez told Palace reporters.

On May 23, Duterte proclaimed martial law in embattled Mindanao after Islamic State (IS)-affiliated extremists stormed into the city of Marawi in Lanao del Sur province in a bid to establish a wilaya (province) for IS fighters in the southern Philippines.

The President directed the government forces to exhaust all means to regain control in Islamist fighters’ stronghold in Marawi City.

Lopez said one-man rule in Mindanao might have caused an impact on the tourism sector but the business group, on one hand, is still robust.

"We've heard stories of course, unfortunately, on the tourism, there will be some cancellation, I understand from conventions for obvious reason. But when it come to investments, I think the investors continue to come in," he said.

"As we say, we are on a breakout. Investments up, exports up. The consumer basis [is] getting bigger. We have a young consumer, and now, getting more employed. So it’s many more years of enlarging consumer base," he added.

Lopes said business confidence "continues to remain very high," registering an overall confidence index score of 43 percent for the second quarter of 2017, compared to 39.4 percent in the first quarter the same year.

The Trade chief also emphasized that investors are even "supportive" on the martial rule in Mindanao because they feel "more secure and safer."

He said that it is "business as usual" in the country, except in Marawi City, although military enforcement has been declared in the southern Philippines.

"I went to Iligan and even Cagayan de Oro and the towns nearby. And [I was] talking to those with depots, distributors. They say they like martial law. They feel more secure and safer," Lopez said.

"Of course, the checkpoint might require a little more time but they can live with that, they said. They’re supportive. And they said, it's business as usual for outside the Marawi. It’s really in the Marawi that they are concerned," he added. (SunStar Philippines)