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PIA Press Release

ARMM 6th Business Congress supports peace talks

COTABATO CITY (7 September) -- The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) successfully staged its 6th Business Congress here September 4-5. With over 300 delegates and almost 30 exhibitors, the confab showcased the various products, tourist spots and other unique resources of the autonomous region.

The assembly themed, "Expanding Business Linkages with other Chambers responsive to peace Efforts," gathered several business persons and chambers in and outside ARMM.

The Philippine Chamber of Commerce Inc. (PCCI), Makati Business Club (MBC), Mindanao Business Club, businessmen from Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Israel and local business personalities discussed the business climate as well as the peace and order situation of ARMM.

Mindanao Business Council chairman Vicente Lao deemed that the business congress is a good venue to businessmen for business matching and other opportunities but citing stabilization of peace to sustain business. "Business climate here is always conducive. That's why we discourage the government in pursuing the war. This is driving away investors," Lao expressed.

Meanwhile, MBC president Alberto Lim encourages ABC to make a strong statement on the recent government's all-out offensive against the Abu Sayyaf. "It took time to forget the conflicts. I hope everything will heal There is no way to peace but peace itself. There is no real war, this is an acoustic war."

Department of Trade and Industry (DTI-ARMM) Secretary Ishak Mastura, on the other hand, threw a challenge to local media personalities to be responsible in reporting. "Manila's media reporting is out of proportion. They are projecting that almost everywhere in ARMM is conflict. We can finally turn that otherwise. I believe that through principled political settlement, there's less use of force, there's understanding, business will prosper," Mastura exclaimed.

ARMM Regional Governor Datu Zaldy Uy Ampatuan has issued Administrative No. 192 on August 20, 2007, tasking DTI to implement schemes for human intervention to support Basilan and Sulu. DTI is set to launch 'Sulong Sulu, Bangon Basilan' program to extend health and education assistance to victims of conflicts.

Datu Haron Bandila, ABC chairman, concluded, "The congress' aim is peace for ARMM. The business community supports the peace process. We urge the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to continue talking so that final peace agreement will be achieved."

The ARMM 6th Business Congress released a resolution urging the GRP and MILF to sign a Peace Agreement the soonest possible time and resolve the continuing armed conflict in Basilan and Sulu in respect to the Muslim observance of Ramadhan. (bpi-armm/PIA 12) [top]

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