Philippines’ new region turns to Middle East for investment

Rebels turned troopers finish the basic military training. (AN photo)
Updated 03 September 2019

Philippines’ new region turns to Middle East for investment

  • It is designed to provide enhanced self-governance to the Muslim-majority provinces

MANILA: The interim chief minister of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), Murad Ibrahim, told Arab News on Monday that he was encouraging the international business community to consider investing in the newly established region

The BARMM is the new regional and political entity established under a peace agreement between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Philippines government early this year.

It is designed to provide enhanced self-governance to the Muslim-majority provinces. “It is very important for investors to come, in order to create job opportunities and also for the international community to see that something is happening on the ground,” Murad said.

In an interview conducted at his office in Cotabato City, Murad told Arab News that plans were afoot to hold an investors’ forum. “We are just finalizing our development plan.”

When questioned on how they would lure foreign businesses to invest in the region, Murad said that there is now relative peace in the region. “In fact, gradually many investors are now coming here to visit. So, I think it’s because of the situation, we now have relative peace in the area and they’ve also seen the conduct and turn out of the plebiscite (last January). There was overwhelming support from the people,” he said.

Murad also cited the decommissioning of an estimated 40,000 former Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) combatants, the military wing of the MILF, which he also chaired. The process will allow the smooth transition of BIAF members to civilian life.

It is very important for investors to come, in order to create job opportunities and also for the international community to see that something is happening on the ground.

Murad Ibrahim, BARMM interim chief minister

“All of this sends the signal that the situation here is improving,” he stressed, adding that a recent meeting with an official from a Saudi delegation to the region had given him great encouragement.

“He gave his commitment that he will help convince the business community in Saudi Arabia to try to invest in the BARRM. He even asked for our development plan so he can present it to them,” Murad said.

“I could see they are really interested, especially given Saudi shortages of animal feeds. They need suppliers and they’re looking at us as a possible source. We have the potential to produce halal food, too so we can supply halal products as well.”

Last month, Murad led officials at a meeting with Malaysian representatives to discuss the possibility of strengthening development ventures between Malaysia and the BARMM.

Lawyer Wencelito Andanar, Malacañang’s special envoy to Malaysia, accompanied the Malaysian delegation comprising the Malaysian Embassy’s Charge D’Affaires Rizany Irwan Muhammad and Assistant Trade Councilor Irvin Francis, as well as officials of the Malaysian Chamber of Commerce and Industry headed by its president, Edward Ling in the two-day visit to Cotabato City.

Murad cited the importance of the meeting, which he said could “elevate the strategic partnership between BARMM and Malaysia from being peace partners to being development partners.”

He told reporters: “Helping BARMM as a brother and a relative is part of Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad’s ‘prosper-the-neighbors’ policy.”

Aside from Saudi Arabia and Malaysia, the government of Turkey has also vowed to extend assistance to the BARMM, particularly in its agricultural sector.


China bans wild animal trade until viral outbreak coronavirus

Updated 26 January 2020

China bans wild animal trade until viral outbreak coronavirus

  • Raising transporting or selling all wild animal species is forbidden until the epidemic is over
  • The virus has caused 56 confirmed deaths and nearly 2,000 total infections

BEIJING: China on Sunday ordered a temporary ban on the trade in wild animals as the country struggles to contain a deadly virus believed to have been spawned in a market that sold wild animals as food.
Raising, transporting or selling all wild animal species is forbidden “from the date of the announcement until the national epidemic situation is over,” said a government directive.
The ban was issued by the Ministry of Agriculture, the State Administration for Market Regulation, and the National Forestry and Grassland Administration.
The lethal virus, which has caused 56 confirmed deaths and nearly 2,000 total infections in China, and spread to about a dozen countries, is believed to have originated in a market in the central city of Wuhan, where a range of wildlife was reportedly sold.
Conservationists have long accused China of tolerating a shadowy trade in exotic animals for food or as ingredients in traditional medicines, including highly endangered species such as the pangolin or tiger.
Health experts say the trade poses a significant and growing public health risk as potentially dangerous animal-borne pathogens that people would normal not be exposed to make the jump to humans.
The SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) virus that killed hundreds of people in China and Hong Kong in 2002-03 also has been traced to wild animals, with scientists saying it likely originated in bats, later reaching humans via civets.
Civets, a cat-like creature, were among dozens of species listed on an exhaustive price list for one of the animal-trading businesses at the Wuhan market that emerged online last week.
Other items included various rats, snakes, giant salamanders and even live wolf pups.
Sunday’s announcement said all businesses, markets, food and beverage outlets and e-commerce platforms are “strictly prohibited from trading in wild animals in any form.”
It added that “consumers must fully understand the health risks of eating wild animals, avoid wild game, and eat healthy.”
The so-called bushmeat trade, along with broader human encroachment on wild habitats, is bringing humans into ever-closer contact with animal viruses that can spread rapidly in today’s connected world, scientists say.
A study by the Global Virome Project, a worldwide effort to increase preparedness for pandemics, estimated that there are nearly 1.7 million undiscovered viruses in the animal kingdom, nearly half of which could be harmful to humans.
Peter Daszak, a virology expert with the project, told AFP its research also indicated that we can expect around five new animal-borne pathogens to infect humanity each year.
China has launched previous crackdowns on the wildlife trade, including after SARS, but conservationists say the trade typically resumes over time.