The European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines-Southern Mindanao Business Council (ECCP-SMBC) aims to have a constructive political dialogue with the authorities of the Canadian government as business, particularly the tourism industry in Mindanao, will be affected following their recent travel advisory.
In its advisory dated January 10, 2024, the Canadian government warns its citizens against traveling to some parts of Mindanao due to the “ongoing movement of extremist groups and the presence of serious threat of attacks, kidnapping, piracy and violent clashes between the security forces and rebel groups”.
They categorized the travel advisory as “avoid all travel” and “avoid non-essential travel.
“Obviously, the one that will really get affected here is the tourism sector because of that kind of advisory. We really think that there is going to be an impact. If we do not do anything about this, the chances of more advisories will make it more difficult for us to really get out of that problem of a negative perception of Mindanao,” Tony Peralta, chairman of ECCP-SMBC expressed his sentiments on Monday morning, January 22, during the Kapehan sa Dabaw at SM Ecoland, Davao City.
Peralta also questioned the general basis of their measure as it should have been collectively and comprehensively discussed with the top government security agencies in the Philippines, particularly the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), National Security Council (NSC), Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA), and significant industries.
“What we would like to know is to get to the bottom of it. Kung hearsay lang kung ganun (If it is just hearsay) you are not far from fake news, it is really not verified because we have been closely working with MinDA in coming up with a report, which is more updated regularly so that we will be able to see a clearer picture of where Mindanao is in terms of peace and order,” the official said.
However, Dr. Adrian Tamayo, Public Relations and Division Head of MinDA, said one of the Canadian government’s bases on the surprise travel advisory was the recent bombing during the Catholic mass at Mindanao State University (MSU) in Marawi, which claimed four people and injured at least 50 others.
This is despite being the only major incident that occurred in the area in the past few years.
To recall, National Security Adviser (NSA) Eduardo Año said in a statement earlier this week that the Bangsamoro Organic Act and other government initiatives implemented have significantly lessened the violent incidents in Mindanao.
He also cited that in Mindanao, there are no longer any active CPP-NPA guerrilla fronts, and 1,399 communist and local terrorist organizations have been destroyed nationwide as announced by President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos. DEF