DAVAO CITY, Philippines — The European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) is set to gather stakeholders in a business forum that highlights the security situation of the country’s southern part, and said it intends to “clear the air about the security concern in the island and hope this attracts more foreign investors in Mindanao”.
Antonio Peralta, chairman of ECCP South Mindanao Business Council told reporters on Wednesday, January 17, the event “aims to give businessmen a clear picture of Mindanao’s security conditions amid the implementation of Martial law and other issues.”
Among the speakers and the guest of honor of the forum is Delfin Lorenzana, secretary of the Department of National Defense.
Peralta said the stigma of Martial law “is still a grey area for the foreign investors particularly the Europeans”.
“For some there is but for some that have been here and really know the lay of the land then there’s not really that much of concern,” he said.
Arturo Milan, the newly-elected president of Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. (DCCCII), said security issues in Mindanao remain to be a concern among investors.
“Still, the security issue is really a big issue in trying to encourage investors to come to Mindanao because perception takes a very important role in the decision making of investments,” Milan said.
But even with the continuing implementation of Martial law, the two business leaders said some foreign investors “still see good prospects of doing business here”.
“We’ve seen quite a number of them (small and medium-sized European companies) come here. That’s the kind of market we want to tap,” Peralta said.
The ECCP is eyeing to conduct at least two trade missions here this year to bring in more interested investors from Europe.
President Rodrigo Duterte placed Mindanao under Martial law in May 23 following the attacks of the Islamic State-linked Maute group in Marawi City. It took the government forces five months to put an end to the clash.
He requested Congress to extend the implementation of Martial rule until December 31 this year after government forces retook Marawi City.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana would talk on the security aspect, and other business leaders are also set to discuss other business facets namely:
- Walter Van Hattum, head of Economic and Trade Section of the EU delegation to the Philippines on EU and Mindanao Trade
- Florian Gottein, executive director of ECCP on the functions and visions of ECCP for Davao and Mindanao
- Lars Wittig, country manager of Regus Philippines
- Jet Yu, founder and managing director of PRIME Philippines
- Ricardo Lagdameo, vice president of Damosa Land Incorporated
Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte is also expected to grace the event.
Meanwhile, human rights groups slam the extension of Martial law as it worsens the human rights situation in the island. Barug Katungod recorded 92 cases of politically motivated killings in Mindanao since May last year.