Duterte's advice vs Western Mindanao investments a 'wake-up call'

ZAMBOANGA DEL NORTE, Philippines – Businesses in this province should see President Rodrigo Duterte’s recommendation against investing in Western Mindanao as a “wake-up call” and not a death knell for local industries, a business leader said on Tuesday, September 10.

Rolando Soliva, president of the Dipolog Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI), made the statement days after the Chief Executive, in an event in Davao City, advised investors to “stay away" from Western Mindanao because of peace and order problems.

“I did not take President Duterte’s pronouncements as killing Zamboanga del Norte, but as a wakeup call for us, particularly our local leaders, to lay the foundation for economic growth in Zamboanga del Norte, and we should double time,” Soliva said.

Soliva said that when he first heard about the President’s statement, he had wondered whether he was urging big businesses not to venture into Western Mindanao. 

He said if such were the case, then he was all for it, since the entry of big businesses into the region would just kill micro, small and medium scale enterprises (MSME).

“Otherwise, the President is going against our own law, Republic Act 6977 as amended by Republic Act 9501, which is promoting micro, small and medium scale enterprises (MSME),” said Soliva, who also chairs the Zamboanga del Norte Police Provincial Office Advisory Council.

Speaking at the opening of the DusitD2 Hotel in Davao City on September 6, Duterte said: “I will not recommend any new economic activity or investments on the western side [of Mindanao], especially on the islands there. I don’t think that it would prudent for you to consider it.”

The President was talking about the communist insurgency and other peace and order problems, when he gave the advice.

While acknowledging that there are indeed peace and order problems in Western Mindanao, Soliva felt that such a statement had unfairly dragged Zamboanga del Norte, which is part of the region.

This was why, he said, he wanted “to believe President Duterte was indeed referring to the huge investors or the giant businesses, which for me is right because their entry to our province would definitely kill our micro, small and medium scale businesses."

He cited as an example the “Divisoria” business area in Cagayan de Oro City that was flourishing with local businesses, but went down with the arrival of large malls.

“Worse, a large part of income of giant businesses go to Metro Manila, only a small part is left to the host place,” Soliva said.

He noted that MSMEs are the main economic driver of Zamboanga del Norte.

“In fact, 99.6% of the total business establishments in the country are MSMEs only about 0.4 percent are businesses with capitalization of more than P100 million,” Soliva said. – Rappler.com