Mindanao's power, infra problems scare investors away - envoy
BUTUAN CITY, Philippines - Mindanao's power and infrastructure situation worsens its already problematic image, scaring off foreign investors, a Japanese envoy told business leaders at this year's Mindanao Business Conference.
Ochiai Naoyuki, First Secretary of the Japanese Embassy, said that while Japanese investors are interested in pouring capital in Mindanao due to its agricultural potential, they are discouraged by the lack of road networks and other basic infrastructure in the region.
At least 69% of Mindanao's national roads remain unpaved, according to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
“If you have more basic infrastructure like roads and bridges, maybe Japanese investors will come to start their manufacturing,” Naoyuki told reporters on the sidelines of the meeting on August 3.
Japan was the country's top source of foreign direct investments (FDI) last year, contributing 30.2% of FDI commitments, according to the National Economic and Development Authority.
Mindanao's huge tracks of rich land lure Japanese investors to start agricultural ventures here, said Naoyuki.
But the Philippine southern island's image as a place of conflict also remains a concern, he added.
“We want more Japanese investors to come here but for them Mindanao is just Mindanao. And when you're in Japan, most of the news in Mindanao is all about conflict,” Naoyuki told reporters.
Mindanao's image problem has been attributed to the conflict between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which have resumed peace talks last July in Kuala Lumpur.
The Japanese government is a member of the Malaysia-led International Monitoring Team that oversees the implementation of ceasefire between the government and the MILF.
Meanwhile, Reed Aeschliman, USAID Philippines acting mission director, also cited the importance of peace and security in attracting foreign investments in Mindanao.
“It is criminal activity and unlawful armed militants in Mindanao that hold back the region. We support the government’s ongoing peace efforts with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front – as we always have – to bring stability that breeds opportunity,” Aeschliman said in his speech.
At least 330 participants attended the 21st Mindanao Business Conference to discuss economic efforts, including public-private partnership or PPP, power and renewable energy. The delegates will issue resolutions based on their discussions and submit these to Malacañang. - Rappler.com