Economy remains stable despite crisis in Mindanao


MANILA – The economic impact of the crisis in Mindanao would depend on how the government would handle the situation in Marawi City, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said Saturday.

This as clashes between government troops and terrorists from the Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups entered its fifth day, and martial law remained in effect in Mindanao.

“We trust the President and his security officials to do what has to be done to restore peace and order and protect our fellow Filipinos in the South,” NEDA Secretary Ernesto Pernia said in a statement released on Saturday.

On Tuesday, President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in the island of Mindanao as government moved to suppress terrorism. This after the Maute group engaged security forces who were hunting down Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon in Marawi City, forcing thousands of residents to flee to Iligan.

Many were divided on the possible impact that martial law may have on the economy.

But Pernia said the economy remained strong. This even as he emphasized that economic growth could not be sufficiently sustained nor be inclusive without peace.

“This is why achieving peace, security and public order is considered a bedrock strategy under the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2017-2022,” he said.

Despite the temporary disruptions, NEDA said the economy would remain resilient and keep growing because of the policies, programs and projects already underway.

“Having the watchful eye of government forces especially in Mindanao will ease tensions and allow communities to live normally,” Pernia said.

But while security forces deal with the situation, Pernia said the government must pursue its plans under the PDP, “which is a holistic and comprehensive approach to bringing about inclusive development and higher quality of life for all Filipinos, wherever they are.”

Mindanao, he said, has a huge potential and could be a major driver of growth in the sectors of agriculture and trade.

“We are encouraged that agricultural production recovered in the first quarter of the year, growing by 4.9 percent following several quarters of decline. This was driven by high production gains for sugarcane, banana, pineapple, tobacco, peanut, monggo, cassava, tomato, garlic, onion, eggplant, and rubber. Many of these high-value crops are located in Mindanao,” Pernia explained.

The PDP covers a wide range of interventions that will provide more and better opportunities for people not only in Mindanao but in the rest of the country.

“Let’s hope that peace and order challenges are quickly resolved so as not to derail the implementation of plans,” Pernia said.

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