WILL BBL LEAD TO ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT?

By: Honesto C. General

Those who are pushing for the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law had better look into the history of Cagayan de Oro City and Davao City.

Some fifty years ago, I was based in Davao City as the Regional Manager for Mindanao for the Insular Life-FGU Insurance Group.

Every three or four months, I would visit Cagayan de Oro, which was then a one-street town. At one end of the street was Ateneo de Cagayan. At the other end was the public market, usually referred to as Divisioria. Beyond was the sea.

Early last year, I was in Cagayan de Oro to attend the wedding of my grandson. I was amazed at how the city had grown. The old main street was still there and so was Divisoria. But at the other end, Ateneo de Cagayan had blossomed into Xavier University. Beyond Xavier was an entirely new section where Ayala, SM, Puregold, Rustan’s had set up shop just like in Makati. We stayed in a hotel which was part of a worldwide chain. One evening we went out to dinner. We found a Chinese restaurant and we had to wait for half an hour to get a table.

The airport terminal used to be a Quonset hut, handling only World War II C-47’s Now the airport services four-engine planes.

The growth of Davao City is even more spectacular. The airport terminal building used to be a US army surplus Quonset hut. Now it is like the terminal buildings in Manila. Sixty years ago, the only hotel in Davao was the 50-room Apo View. Now, there is a 1,500 room hotel, and another one like it is being built. Ayala, SM, Rustan’s, Puregold have all set up shop.

So, now, the question is this: Will Bangsamoro develop like Cagayan de Oro City and Davao City?

Will Ayala, SM,. Rustan’s and Puregold set up shop in Bangsamoro. Not likely.

A major characteristic of a modern society is a vibrant insurance industry. Will the life insurance companies deploy countless agents in Bangsamoro? Not likely, because the Moro is uninsurable and even more so under BBL. Will the non-life insurance companies set up shop in Bangsamoro.

Not likely, because Moro businesses are not insurable.

So, while the rest of Mindanao will be growing by leaps and bounds, Bangsamoro will remain stagnant economically. Now, that will be a threat to peace in Mindanao.

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