MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Security For Business Tack Adopted

Published by MAC on 2007-03-03
Source: Manila Standard

Security for business tack adopted

Manila Standard

3rd March 2007

BUOYED by the country's recent economic gains, the military has assumed additional roles in the government's efforts to sustain growth as part of the war against poverty, Defense Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane said yesterday. "This role is part of our internal security operations, which are intended to eliminate all threats to national stability," he said.

Ebdane said the Philippines is now on the growth track, citing the 5.4 percent growth in 2006 in terms of gross domestic product, or the amount of goods and services produced by the country, which is used to measure economic performance. Last year's GDP growth was higher than the 5.1 percent posted in 2005, but it is still lower than the 6.0 percent posted in 2004.

But this year, economists, businessmen and analysts agree that the economy will perform better because of the boom in the tourism and property industries, the surge in business process outsourcing activities, coupled with the continuing appreciation of the peso and the growth in remittances from Filipino workers abroad. "We have before us all the basic fundamentals for growth, and we should not let this great opportunity pass by. This is our chance to increase employment and raise the standards of living of our people," Ebdane said.

He said that while soldiers will continue their internal security operations against insurgents and terrorists, they will also provide peaceful and stable environments for investments in all parts of the country.

"We need to encourage investors to put up factories or set up operations in underdeveloped areas, particularly those outside urban centers, where poverty is more pronounced because of the lack of employment opportunities for the poor," the defense chief said.

"When these areas become host to investments, employment and business activities will follow, and poverty will be reduced, if not eliminated," he said. "When that happens, there will be no more reason for people to rise against their duly constituted government."

The government expects billions of dollars worth of investments in the mining industry alone as investors take advantage of the December 2005 Supreme Court decision allowing foreign ownership of mining projects.

Ebdane said that mining projects are undertaken in remote areas so they will be a pump-priming factor in stimulating other businesses in those areas and provide jobs for local residents.

Presidential Spokesman Ignacio Bunye has said the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army insurgency remained the only stumbling block to economic progress following the successful implementation of policy reforms by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

"This government is resolved to protect the people from further depredations. We are aware of the root causes of this problem and the intensified campaign against the CPP-NPA is actually part of this government's overall approach to addressing poverty, especially in the countryside," Bunye said.

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