Senator Joel Villanueva on Saturday urged the government's economic managers to exert extra effort in safeguarding the flow of investments amid the extension of Martial Law in Mindanao.
In his interpellation during the special joint session of Congress, Villanueva asked regarding the economic implications of the imposition of martial rule in the region.
The senator cited a data stating that Mindanao accounts for 5 percent of proceeds from our tourism sector which then makes up 20 percent of our economy.
"Pagka nagtuluy-tuloy ang Martial Law hanggang December 2017, some other countries might issue travel bans. Are we ready for this? May buffer ba tayo? Yung Davao Chamber of Commerce nag-issue na sila na tinatamaan na sila doon sa kanilang turismo. I just want to ask how we are preparing for this," Villanueva said.
In response to the senator's questions, Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez explained that our country's investors are not affected by the declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao.
"Sa larangan ng investment, lahat po ng aming nakakausap ay walang nararamdamang panganib at pag-aalinlangan pagdating sa investment decision kasi ang investment po ay naka-base sa long-term prospects ng pag-nenegosyo at mga investment fundamentals," Lopez said.
In terms of tourism, an official from the Department of Tourism shared that there were some reported cancellations for flights going to Mindanao.
"But the cancellation does not necessarily mean that there's already a total stop in the arrival of tourists in the area. Overall, as of May this year, the total number of international tourists in the Philippines has increased by 19 percent and from January to May this year, we stayed positive at 14 percent," the tourism official said.
On the other hand, the senator cited a Philippine Daily Inquirer article last July 20 stating that investments in Mindanao suffered from 63 percent cut based on the data presented by the Board of Investments.
Villanueva said that if Martial Law in the region has indeed affected its local economy, especially the tourism sector, it would be better for the government to "double their efforts in boosting tourism in other regions like Luzon and Visayas."
However, Secretary Lopez explained that the said data does not include the increase of international investments by 30 percent due to the "delay on the approval of projects". He added that the investors are more concerned on the Marawi issue and not on the imposition of Martial Law.
"In fact, they view martial law as giving extra protection, it's making the environment safer. It's not Martial Law they are concerned about, it's terrorism," Lopez said.
Provided with the said data, Villanueva said he is supportive of the extension of Martial Law in the region granted that the economic managers would commit to boosting the local economic development in Mindanao despite Martial Law.
"In times like this where an ongoing conflict persists in one of our regions, the people who become the most affected are its residents. If the economic development in Mindanao would suffer, people might be left with no sustainable jobs. The challenge for our economic managers is to ensure economic activities in the region would continue despite the crisis. We would remain vigilant and continuously monitor the initiatives that our economic managers have committed to do," Villanueva said.
Source: Senate of the Philippines