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Stakeholders see economic boom with new BARMM capitol 

Economic News • 10:45 AM Sun May 7, 2023
John M. Unson
A stretch of the Secretary Narciso Ramos Highway in Parang, Maguindanao del Norte. (John Unson)

COTABATO CITY - Merchants and politicians support the proposed creation of a new Bangsamoro regional capitol in Parang town in Maguindanao del Norte, certain of its positive impact on trading centers in the area and in two other provinces nearby.

The 80-member interim parliament of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao is now deliberating on the Bangsamoro Transition Authority Bill 43, the enabling measure for the transfer of the regional capitol to Parang, a historic seaside town in Maguindanao del Norte.

Parang is connected to a number of towns in Lanao del Sur, also in BARMM, and in Zamboanga del Sur in Administrative Region 12, via portions of the Secretary Narciso Ramos Highway, fully concreted in 1995 by the regional government then of the now defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Mohammad Pasigan, chairman of the Regional Board of Investments-BARMM, said Saturday he is sure the setting up of a multi-billion regional government center in Parang will entice more investors to pour in capitals for agricultural ventures in Maguindanao del Norte’s adjoining Parang, Sultan Kudarat, Sultan Mastura, Matanog, Barira and Buldon municipalities.

“We are sure of that,” Pasigan said.

The six towns are home to Iranuns, whose ancestors include the legendary 16th century Muslim leader Sultan Kudarat, who fought the Spaniards, and many other datus who also resisted subsequent American and Japanese presence in their bastions.

“We support the proposal to establish a new BARMM regional government center in the municipality of Parang,” Ronald Hallid Dimacisil Torres, chairman of the Bangsamoro Business Council, said on Saturday.

He said the creation of a permanent Bangsamoro government center in Parang can also provide traders in Cotabato City an opportunity to expand their businesses in the coastal municipality, less than 30 kilometers away.

“Most importantly, it will improve the investment climate in Parang and towns around that are still recovering from the adverse effects of decades of secessionist strife,” Torres, who is a lawyer and an entrepreneur, said.

Maguindanao del Norte Gov. Abdulrauf Macacua said he and mayors in his province are in favor of the transfer of the BARMM capitol to Parang.

“It will have a good effect on the economy of the municipalities of the Iranuns in Maguindanao del Norte and the Maranaos in Lanao del Sur,” he said.

Members of the Chinese business blocs here told reporters early on that they are not opposed to the creation of a new BARMM capitol in Parang.

Anticipating an economic boom that the passage of BTA Bill 43 into a regional law can usher in, the mayors of Parang, Sultan Mastura, Buldon, Barira and Matanog on Thursday forged a covenant establishing the Iranun Corridor for Economic, Environment and Public Safety Council.

Never had mayors in Maguindanao del Norte got close to each other and converged for a common socio-economic goal until they joined the United Bangsamoro Justice Party of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, whose 22-year peace talks with Malacañang resulted in the creation, via a plebiscite in 2019, of the MILF-led BARMM.

BARMM’s transportation and communications minister, Paisalin Pangandaman Tago, said he is also in favor of the passage into law of BTA Bill 43.

“The setting up of a new BARMM capitol in Parang will benefit my province, Lanao del Sur, too,“ Tago, also a member of the 80-seat regional parliament, said Saturday.

He said Parang is the most ideal area for a new BARMM capitol owing to its having a big seaport essential to shipping routes connecting Maguindanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur to other regions in Mindanao, in the Visayas and in Metro Manila that they are now trying to establish.


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