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tnalak-getty2Tnalak-gettyKORONADAL, PHILIPPINES – JULY 18: Filipino natives wait for their turn to perform at the 2009 T�nalak Festival, showcasing South Cotabato Province tribal cultures on July 18, 2009 in the southern city of Koronadal, Philippines. T�nalak is an indigenous term for colorful cloth woven by women of the T�boli tribe that has brought recognition to the province in the national and international scene. US-trained Filipino security forces were placed on heightened alert over fears the country’s homegrown Islamists could try to emulate the Jakarta hotel bombings. Early this month, twelve people died and more than 100 others were wounded in separate attacks carried out by local militants in the region. (Photo by Jeoffrey Maitem/Getty Images)

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By Edwin Fernandez, Jeoffrey Maitem
Inquirer
Last updated 02:34am (Mla time) 09/22/2007

 

COTABATO CITY—The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) will receive most of the $190 million peace and development assistance pledged by the US government, a ranking US Embassy official said.

“What is interesting about this is that it was a grant, it’s not a loan, it’s a grant from the American people and it is focused on developing the business and economy of Mindanao,” Paul W. Jones, US Embassy deputy chief of mission, told the Inquirer by phone on Thursday.

He said about 60 percent of the assistance would go to the ARMM, which is composed of the poverty-stricken provinces of Maguindanao, Sulu, Basilan, Tawi-tawi, Lanao del Sur and Shariff Kabunsuan.

“What we see in Mindanao is tremendous opportunity and potentials for prosperity and for peace. Mindanao is an untapped region in terms of developing its own potentials and we frankly would like to see that potential realized,” he said.

President Macapagal-Arroyo and US Ambassador Kristie Kenney signed on Wednesday the new Mindanao Peace and Development Agreement, which seeks to develop infrastructure and expand economic opportunities in war-torn areas of the island.

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the government agency Mindanao Economic Development Council (Medco) will oversee the implementation of the programs under the MPAD Agreement.

When asked whether this has anything to do with the reported plan of the United States to establish military bases in Mindanao, Jones said: “Let me be very clear, there are no US bases in the Philippines and we have no intention, no interest in having American bases in the Philippines.”

The reports surfaced amid the continued deployment of US troops in Mindanao, including Sulu, Basilan and North Cotabato.

“What we have is a partnership for the 21st century that focuses on developing prosperity for our people because we believe it is the best way to secure peace,” he said.

Jones said that “building American bases would not be the best way to secure peace in Mindanao.”

“So we don’t want to have a base, we don’t have a base, we don’t have (any) intention of developing a base,” he said.


Copyright 2007 Inquirer. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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By Edwin Fernandez, Jeoffrey Maitem
Mindanao Bureau
Last updated 12:03pm (Mla time) 09/25/2007

 

COTABATO CITY, Philippines — Mindanao posted a record 133 percent increase in domestic investments during the first half of the year due to the robust inflow of local funds, the Mindanao Economic Development Council (Medco) said Tuesday.

Undersecretary Virgilio Leyretana, Medco chair, said on Monday that the total investment infused into the island’s economy from January to June this year reached P4.315 billion.

He said the increase came from 18 investment projects based on records from the Board of Investments and the PHIVIDEC Industrial Estate in Misamis Oriental.

“Very noticeable was the increase of 133.8 percent as compared to last year’s figure in the same semester,” Leyretana told the Inquirer without citing last year’s figures. He said the growth “revealed a boost in local investor confidence with most of the BOI-registered investments coming from local investors.”

He said the fresh investment inflow was expected to generate around 2,000 jobs in Mindanao.

Of the six Mindanao regions, Leyretana said Southern Mindanao posted the biggest investment at P2.792 billion, followed by Northern Mindanao with P1.194 billion.

But while local investments went up, he said foreign direct investments dropped from P603.55 million in the first half of 2006 to P115 million during the first six months of 2007. Chinese companies engaged in mining poured in most of the investments.

Leyretana said the growth in domestic investment would entice foreign investors to do more businesses in Mindanao.

“The impressive investment performance clearly shows that we are right on track in our efforts to fast track trade and investment promotions in Mindanao as indicated by the sharp increase in (local) investments,” Leyretana said.


Copyright 2007 Mindanao Bureau. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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By Jeoffrey Maitem, Judy Quiros
Mindanao Bureau
Last updated 06:33pm (Mla time) 09/04/2007

 

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines — Tuna industry players in Mindanao should work together to realize a tuna-breeding venture in the country in the wake of an impending shortage in supply due to global warming.

Citing studies that indicate a continuing migration of tuna species into cooler parts of the oceans, Philip Ong, fisheries committee chair of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), said a shortage of the fish could happen in the next two decades.

Speaking at the end of the two-day National Tuna Congress here on Saturday, Ong said PCCI would introduce tuna breeding methods on Sept. 21, during the holding of the Mindanao Business Conference here.

“We should invest in breeding tuna as early as possible. We must sit and act together in culturing tuna,” Ong said.

He said other countries have started breeding the fish. These include Indonesia with the help of Japanese technology, according to Ong.

“Right now, although we have an abundant supply of tuna for our exports, time will come, maybe in the next 20 years, when we will experience shortage. So we must invest as soon as possible,” Ong said.

Marfin Tan, president of the Socksargen (South Cotabato, Sarangani, General Santos) Federation of Fishing and Allied Industries Inc., admitted that global warming greatly affected the local P23-billion tuna industry.

“As the global warming affects the current of the ocean, tuna, which is migratory in nature, will look for temperature suitable and safe for them, and it has become difficult for our fishers to catch them,” Tan said.

The Sulu Sea and Indonesian waters have been the traditional fishing grounds of fishermen, especially tuna catchers, but these days, they have to venture farther to catch the fish, according to Tan.

In Davao City, the number of foreign fishing vessels that docked at the Davao City Fish Port Complex (DCFPC) in Toril district dropped 18.64 percent in 2007 compared to 2006.

Mario Malinao, DCFPC manager, said from January to August 2006, foreign port calls at the DCFPC reached 599 but during the same period this year, the figure dropped to 499.

He said the volume of tuna unloaded at the fishport also went down by three percent to 3,202 metric tons (MT) from last year’s 3,303 (MT).

The unloading volume for export quality sashimi grade tuna also dwindled, said Malinao. For the first five years since DCFPC was declared a transshipment port, 80 percent of the total tuna catch annually were sashimi grade, but not anymore, said Malinao.


Copyright 2007 Mindanao Bureau. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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By Jeoffrey Maitem, Edwin Fernandez
Mindanao Bureau
Last updated 09:42pm (Mla time) 08/05/2007

 

COTABATO CITY–Undeterred by the violence that is seen to wrack the region, investors continue to sink in vital funds in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, with investments rising by about 82 percent from January to June compared to the same period last year.

Ishak Mastura, ARMM trade secretary, said total investments in the first half of the year rose P370.4 million from the P222.7 million posted in the first semester of 2006.

He did not say what sectors benefited from the investments, but he noted that Tawi-tawi was the top fund destination in the six-province region, accounting for P228.8 million of the total inflows.

Tawi-tawi is the region’s major seaweed producer and is among the country’s top exporters of semi-processed and dried agar-agar.

Sulu, a violence-prone province and home to the Abu Sayyaf, only posted P29.28 million.

“It’s uplifting that we already generated such huge investments in just six months,” Mastura said. “I am very optimistic that we will surpass the P457.253 million produced last year before 2007 ends.”

The increase in investments also translated to a total of 3,486 new jobs, which could further help the economy of the region.

Mastura said the investment figure they released only included the January to April figures from Maguindanao and Shariff Kabunsuan provinces, “so it could be actually higher than that.”

Maguindanao and Shariff Kabunsuan are the region’s major agricultural areas.

“But we will collate all needed information so that we can release a comprehensive report for 2007,” Mastura said.

ARMM businessmen are now trying to link with their counterparts in other parts of the country to promote the region.

Haron Bandila, chair of the ARMM Business Council, said that they would soon be holding an assembly, dubbed “Expanding Business Linkages with other Chambers Responsive to Peace Efforts.”

On Sept. 4 and 5, ARMM council members will meet with officials of the Makati Business Club to hammer out an agreement that will, in effect, attract more foreign and domestic investments to the ARMM.

“This … is a clear manifestation that, amidst conflicts in other parts of the region, our entrepreneurs persist in doing business inside and outside ARMM,” Bandila said.


Copyright 2007 Mindanao Bureau. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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By Jeoffrey Maitem
Mindanao Bureau
Last updated 03:30pm (Mla time) 08/12/2007

 

KORONADAL CITY – Armed men abducted on Saturday night an employee of the Yellow Bus Line (YBL) here just as the premier bus firm in the region resumed its operations after tightening security in response to the bombing of their buses.

Jaime Rosios, one of the company’s mechanics and a resident of General Santos City, had just come from the YBL depot along General Santos Drive highway around 7 p.m. when unidentified men approached and forced him into a vehicle, Supt. Robert Kiunisala, South Cotabato police director, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Kiunisala said the group behind the bombing attacks on YBL buses and terminal could also be responsible for the abduction.

“We are also looking into labor problem within the company,” he added.

YBL resumed operations on Saturday after authorities implemented tighter security measures.

Eight days ago, YBL stopped servicing the Davao City-Isulan, Sultan Kudarat route in the wake of at least three bomb attacks, the latest of which was on August 4 where a pastor was killed and 12 others wounded.

Police blamed the attacks on the Al-khobar, a gang extorting P2 million in protection money from the bus company.

Police said the Al-khobar gang had direct links not only with Abu Sayyaf but also with renegade members of Moro Islamic Liberation Front, a secessionist organization engaged in peace talks with government.

On July 18, three persons, including a child, were injured when a bomb exploded inside a YBL bus at the public transport terminal in Tacurong City.

On July 7, a bomb went off outside the bus terminal here. No one was hurt.


Copyright 2007 Mindanao Bureau. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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By Jeoffrey Maitem, Aquiles Zonio
Mindanao Bureau
Last updated 04:44pm (Mla time) 08/10/2007

 

KORONADAL CITY, Philippines — Dole Philippines resumed operation of its processing plant in Surallah, South Cotabato on Friday, barely three days after the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Central Mindanao shut it down for environmental violations.

Tungko Saikol, EMB Central Mindanao director, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer, parent company of INQUIRER.net. that the Manila-based Pollution Adjudication Board (PAB) issued a 45-day reprieve to the pineapple giant.

“But the case regarding their environmental violations will continue. We will settle it by next week during our technical conference with the management,” Saikol said.

The suspension of Dole’s operation in Surallah was prompted by a complaint from THE owner of farmland near the factory.

The complainant said toxic wastes from the factory contaminated his farm.

On August 6, EMB inspectors found the complaint valid when they found the processing plant had been discharging toxic wastewater, which also threatened the Allah Valley River in South Cotabato and the Liguasan Marsh in Maguindanao.

Dole lodged an appeal before the PAB and got the reprieve.

Kevin Davis, Dole Philippines general manager, said the company appreciated the objectivity, reasonableness and promptness of the PAB in considering their ongoing efforts to improve the facility in Surallah, which was acquired from the T’boli Agro-Industrial Development, Inc. (TADI).

“The company remains steadfast in its commitment to protect the environment. The company is likewise committed to its plans to expand its facility in Surallah, which would generate more employment and livelihood opportunities for the people and economic development in the province,” Davis said.

He confirmed that Dole would be meeting with EMB officials to thresh out the issue.


Copyright 2007 Mindanao Bureau. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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