Mindanao to gain from Abe visit

By Edith Regalado
Mindanao to gain from Abe visit

DAVAO CITY – Mindanao is expected to benefit the most from the just concluded visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in the country.

Abe left for Sydney, Australia Friday afternoon after staying overnight here where President Duterte showed him his own brand of hospitality, even bringing the Japanese Prime Minister to his house. 

Abe vowed to continue supporting the peace process in Mindanao wherein formal negotiations are set to resume this month.

“We will continue to provide positive support for the peace and development of Mindanao,” Abe said.

For a long time, Japan has been a party to the Mindanao peace process, especially with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, and helped efforts toward post-conflict reconstruction as well as development at the grassroots level. 

Japan has also taken an active role in the peace process in Mindanao by being part of the Malaysia-led International Monitoring Team that checks on the situation on the ground between the government forces and the MILF rebels.

Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez told The STAR that the visit of Abe would likewise pave the way for more investments and development in Mindanao as several leading Japanese business leaders joined his delegation and conducted meetings with their local counterparts.

Lopez said this would help build investor confidence in Mindanao.

Aside from the meeting in Manila last Thursday night, an expanded business forum with Mindanao-based businessmen and the visiting Japanese business leaders was also held at the Waterfront Insular Hotel Davao, which was also attended by Abe and Duterte Friday morning. 

“This is really something because we are showing the Japanese investors that there are more areas (in Mindanao where) they could pour in their resources. We are showing them that Mindanao is a good investment area for them,” Lopez said. 

But Lopez was also quick to point out that some of the business leaders in the delegation of Abe already have existing investments here in the south for a long time. 

“We are inviting them to invest more and expand their businesses in the country, and in Mindanao,” Lopez told The STAR.