Keeping the faith
By the Mindanao Bureau
MINDANAO, from the outside, has widely been perceived as that island in the south plagued by sectarian strife, with culturally rich but marginalized ethnic communities and machine gun-totting masked kidnappers who behead their victims when ransom is not paid.
There is also the long-peddled image of “The land of promise” — a beautiful, resource-rich island with vast rural areas, but where the risks are high and aplenty for investors and tourists.
These impressions are not entirely without basis, and could have easily been reinforced by scenes — which quickly spread on social media — of the outbreak of the siege in Marawi City carried out by heavily armed men brandishing Islamic State flags on May 23 last year, and the immediate decision that same evening by President Rodrigo R. Duterte to declare martial law, not just in the city, but covering the entire Mindanao.
The fighting in Marawi raged for nearly five months, dealing a blow to the enthusiasm among local non-Mindanaoan and foreign investors that was largely generated by the election of the country’s first president from the south.
But even as the Marawi crisis cast a shadow over Mindanao, stakeholders kept faith.
Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) Deputy Executive Director Romeo M. Montenegro said members of the business sector did not waiver in their optimism in terms of being able to push investments and economic growth.