Finance chief backs martial law extension in Mindanao
The head of the Duterte administration’s economic team is backing the extension of martial law in Mindanao until yearend as it remained business as usual for investors on the war-torn island.
“You know I am from Mindanao; I actually haven’t heard from the guys in Mindanao opposing it—they are the ones who are going to be the most affected,” Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III told a press briefing Friday. Dominguez hails from Davao City, a childhood friend of President Duterte.
“And I don’t know if any elected official [in Mindanao] is opposing it, are there? They are supposed to be duly elected representatives of the people and you know we should listen to them,” Dominguez added.
Asked if the government was not wary about any negative perception in the international community about the implementation of martial law amid fighting between government forces and ISIS supporters in Marawi City, Dominguez replied: “We should do what is good for us and not what is good for others.”
Dominguez also pointed out that both foreign portfolio and direct investments were unaffected. “The stock market is almost reaching 8,000. Are there any projects that have been pulled out because of the declaration of martial law? No, I haven’t heard of any. It has not resulted in any pullout of any investment that I know of in Mindanao.”
The finance chief noted that when nationwide martial law was declared by former President Marcos in 1972, investments in Mindanao were not impacted. “During that period, there was a large investment in Mindanao—that is when the banana industry was established and flourished. So [martial law] didn’t affect [the banana industry] then at that time,” he pointed out.
Dominguez nonetheless acknowledged fears that martial law might be abused, but he said the Duterte administration would not do so.
“I think people are afraid of the abuses of martial law. So far, have you heard of any abuse? The only abuse I have heard of is from the Maute group,” Dominguez said.
Last week, the country’s chief economist said a possible extension until year’s end of the implementation of martial law in Mindanao amid continuous fighting in Marawi City was not expected to widely disrupt business and economic activity on the island.
“I think there’s no consequential disruption of businesses in Mindanao; life seems to be going quite normal. Even Cagayan de Oro, which is quite close to Marawi, doesn’t seem to be affected by what’s going on there. It’s business as usual,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia told reporters on the sidelines of the launch of the Northern Mindanao Regional Development Plan 2017-2022, when asked about President Duterte’s plan to extend martial law in Mindanao.
“In fact, martial law is also an environment that will make people safe—they will feel safe about going about their business. It’s not really a hindrance; it’s more of ensuring people that their lives and businesses are not in danger,” added Pernia, who heads state planning agency National Economic and Development Authority.
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