If Bangsamoro Manages the Region Efficiently, it could Transform Similar to Asia’s Vibrant Regions-Experts

Retired technocrats have urged the future Bangsamoro Autonomous Region government to manage the region’s economy efficiently along free market lines, and noted the potential for Bangsamoro to someday mirror the economic performance of some of Asia’s most economically vibrant regions like Hong Kong and Shenzhen in China, said the Foundation for Economic Freedom (FEF) in a statement posted online by Business World on August 1.

“There’s no reason why the BAR cannot be like Hong Kong and Shenzhen in China for so long as free market principles are combined with good governance,” the Foundation for Economic Freedom (FEF) said in a statement Wednesday.

FEF also encouraged Bangsamoro leaders to maintain a “competent, efficient and honest bureaucracy.”

In their statement, the FEF said:

“Only strong institutions accountable to the people will ensure that the mistakes of the failed Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao are not repeated.”

 “We also welcomed the efforts of President Rodrigo R. Duterte, Congress as well as the Bangsamoro people in ensuring the passage of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) as a means of ending decades-long conflict in the region.”

“The BOL is a giant step toward peace and development in Mindanao,” the FEF added.

Meanwhile, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) also commended the government for the enactment of the law, granting fiscal autonomy to the region, said the report by BusinessWorld.

 “The passage of the landmark law is a significant step toward achieving lasting peace, which will allow Mindanao to reach its full potential as a key driver of growth and development for the Philippines,” ADB Vice-President Mr. Stephen Groff said in a statement, Wednesday.

The ADB issued a $380 million loan in December to help improve the 280-kilometer national road and bridge network in Mindanao. The ADB said this was its first Mindanao-specific loan in 16 years.

 “The government’s efforts to create stability in Mindanao will usher in more opportunities to end poverty in the region. ADB stands ready to assist the government in addressing socioeconomic inequalities in Mindanao and is preparing to roll out initiatives targeting this purpose,” ADB Country Director for the Philippines Kelly Bird said. 

World Bank also welcomed the signing of Bangsamoro Organic Law and describes it as 'significant milestone'.

In a statement released on July 31 and posted online by Philstar, the Washington-based multilateral lender said the BOL is “an important step towards peace and stability in the region,” adding that the new autonomy law would create new opportunities for sustainable peace in Mindanao.

“The World Bank has been a long-time partner in supporting peace and inclusive growth in Mindanao,” World Bank Vice President for East Asia and Pacific Victoria Kwakwa said. 

“We welcome the news and look forward to continue working closely with the government of the Philippines and the MILF in support of sustainable peace and development in Bangsamoro and the entire Mindanao region,” Kwakwa added.

The World Bank and other development partners have been supporting the peace process between the government and the MILF especially through the ongoing Mindanao Trust Fund, the Philstar report said.