SEC. ANDANAR: Pilipinas, bahagi po ang ating bansa sa regional sub-grouping na BIMP-EAGA o Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippine East ASEAN Growth Area na nagnanais na paigtingin pa ang ilang daang siglo na nating pakikipag-ugnayan at pakikipagkalakalan bilang magkakapitbahay sa rehiyon.
Gaano katagal na nga ba tayong nakikipag-ugnayan at nakikipagkalakalan? Naku napakatagal na, bago pa man dumating ang mga Kastila.
Kaya lang nitong mga nakaraang taon, tila ang natatanaw po natin ay napunta na sa mga malalayong bansa. Kaya ngayong gabi, muli nating pag-uusapan ang ating samahan at ang puwede nating pagkakitaan, ‘Opportunities Nearby – Revisiting BIMP-EAGA’ ang tampok ngayong gabi.
Ito po ang inyong Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, welcome to The Cabinet Report.
Welcome to The Cabinet Report. Bago tayo magpatuloy, pakinggan muna natin ang ulat na ito tungkol sa usapin ng pagbabakuna:
Bilang panimula sa usaping BIMP-EAGA, balikan muna natin kung ano nga ba ito:
Sa pagbabalik ng Cabinet Report, makakausap natin si Assistant Secretary Romeo Montenegro ng Mindanao Development Authority regarding opportunities nearby. Mga pagkakataon sa negosyo sa mga kapitbahay natin sa Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area. Tutok lang dito sa Cabinet Report
SEC. ANDANAR: Welcome back to the Cabinet Report. Kasama natin ngayong gabi si Assistant Secretary Romeo Montenegro ng Mindanao Development Authority o MinDA na siyang Philippine coordinating office para sa BIMP-EAGA.
Asec. Montenegro, ang dalawang focus areas ng Pilipinas sa BIMP-EAGA ay ang Mindanao at ang Palawan. Ano ang business o economic opportunities na hatid nito para sa kanila? Let’s start with Mindanao…
ASEC. MONTENEGRO: Mindanao is predominantly agriculture-driven economy in terms of the entire value chain where more than one-third of the country’s farm area is located and over 43% of the country’s food trade is coming from. 8 out of top 10 exportable commodities of the Philippines, Sec. Martin, come from Mindanao.
What is needed this time around and we see this opportunity shaping up and being given a priority and focus under the Duterte administration is to bring products in Mindanao up the value chain. So we’re no longer just producing raw materials but value adding by putting up the necessary processing centers complemented with the Build, Build, Build infrastructure projects of the Duterte administration to make sure that Mindanao is able to accelerate its growth.
SEC. ANDANAR: Paano naman sa Palawan?
ASEC. MONTENEGRO: Palawan has traditionally been also part of centuries old barter trading, Sec. Martin. That’s why Palawan has also been identified as among those having stronger ties and links especially with Malaysia. And aside from a major agricultural output that can be derived from other province, Palawan presents itself also with the perfect opportunity being a tourism destination but this time around, looking at the value chain of tourism sector and then part of the entire loop of BIMP-EAGA in terms of marketing, the 4-country focus areas in terms of tourism as one market destination.
SEC. ANDANAR: Nabanggit mo ang konsepto ng ‘value adding’ at ng ‘complementation’ bilang pamamaraan ng pagtingin sa mga pagkakataong pinipresenta ng BIMP-EAGA. Tell us how you see value adding and complementation being applied there.
ASEC. MONTENEGRO: We packaged Palawan as a major tourism destination and that definitely is a major strength of the Philippines. Malaysia is also a major tourism player all over abroad, they have about 30 million tourist arrivals on the average and more than 5 million of those fly to Kota Kinabalu being a hub for major international airline destination for Borneo and Kota Kinabalu is just a little over an hour away from Puerto Princesa. And that’s why during the time we had the direct flights between Puerto Princesa and Kota Kinabalu’s [garbled] Malaysian Air subsidiary in terms of that connectivity. That accorded the opportunity for Palawan to be directly connected not just to Kota Kinabalu but to the bigger market for tourism.
And so BIMP-EAGA at that time in fact decided to put forward a tagline and a tourism market branding for BIMP-EAGA like from the heights of Mt. Kinabalu to the depths of the underground river in Palawan – that’s a BIMP-EAGA tagline.
SEC. ANDANAR: Got it. That was an example regarding tourism in Palawan. Tell us about this value adding and complementation perspective, this time as it applies to agriculture.
ASEC. MONTENEGRO: We do have several of our commodities that are export-oriented having been value added already being moved up the value chain. Of course we have sardines that are penetrating many markets in Europe. That definitely drives us to a look at value adding several more of our commodities. If you look at several other commodities, doon tayo medyo nagkulang pa, Sec. Martin.
99% of rubber in the Philippines is produced in Mindanao – in Basilan, in Zamboanga Peninsula particularly Zamboanga Sibugay and North Cotabato. But we produce rubber cup lump, very raw and we sell them to Malaysia, to Indonesia and then to China in return we buy tires because we don’t have the value adding and the processing center here in Mindanao to turn our rubber cup lumps into tires and finished products of rubber for instance.
Another is seaweeds which is around 60% produced in Tawi-Tawi and Zamboanga Peninsula. The Tawi-Tawi farmers sell the dried agar-agar to Cebu where value processing, value adding done and then it is exported to many other country destinations such as US, South Korea, Japan. And in return we buy its soft gels, we buy confectionaries, we buy make up ingredients made of these seaweeds.
That’s been lacking in the picture and BIMP-EAGA through the years presented us the opportunity to look at the strength of our neighbors in terms of that complementation. What we have complemented with what they have so that we can penetrate larger markets.
A perfect example of this for instance in Mindanao, Sec. Martin, is that we produce chicken. Our production of poultry, it’s very much advantageous compared to the rest of the country because for quite some time Mindanao has been spared from the avian flu. In fact relatively the entire Philippines compared to the rest of ASEAN has been spared from the avian flu. Here in Mindanao we continue to pride ourselves of having been able to protect ourselves from that. So if we continue to dominate production of poultry and our poultry products value added and supported with corn harvest from [garbled] Indonesia which produces corn. During the time ‘no we are in lean season here in Mindanao.
Alam mo naman sa atin ‘pag lean season, nagpapalit ng crops iyong ating farmers and therefore during the time that we needed much of corn for feeds, Cargill Philippines in South Cotabato imports corn from [garbled] Indonesia. So that’s we would want to look at it, we import corn during our lean season, during bumper harvest naman sa Indonesia so that we have [garbled] production. And our poultry products, certified halal with the complementation of Brunei and Malaysia which are two of the world’s largest halal certifying and accrediting countries so that we can penetrate Middle East, Japan and bigger markets.
That is an example in the case of Mindanao, Sec. Martin, that we would want to look at BIMP-EAGA creating opportunities for value processing and complementation, value adding so that we can penetrate bigger market destinations.
We still have several others – we have cacao, we have coffee, we have coconut but we are exporting coconut oil but we still lack many of the needed value adding for these principal products here in Mindanao to turn them into finished products with higher value adding so that we can penetrate bigger markets.
In spite of this, Mindanao had been able to demonstrate its winning form. The Davao chocolate is a consistent winner in London chocolate competition. Our coffee in Mindanao in fact has won many titles in Europe, the latest one the Maguindanao coffee produced in farm has won second place in Paris coffee competition. Because of the taste, definitely that is our edge in Mindanao but in terms of consolidating our production areas and turning them into a scale that would warrant bigger destination and that has been a challenge so far.
That’s where we want to look at riding into the priorities of the Duterte administration in terms of Build, Build, Build and infrastructure to improve our logistics and the strong support of the President to look at really transforming Mindanao taking into the strength of its agriculture sector.
SEC. ANDANAR: Asec. Yo, I can definitely appreciate the validity of the value adding and complementation perspective. Actually kausap lang din natin ang Philippine Ambassador to Brunei Darussalam Christopher Montero at iyon din ang kaniyang mungkahi.
AMBASSADOR MONTERO: Let’s recalibrate ‘no our business mindset and look at Brunei not really as a destination of our products in terms of volume ‘no but as, again, as a spring board to a larger market. Because Brunei has really been able to develop a very strong halal industry ‘no and if we are able to comply with Bruneian standards ‘no, then we can export our halal products to any and the larger Muslim population ‘no, not just here in the region but even in the Middle East.
SEC. ANDANAR: Speaking of Brunei though, can we also consider them and the focus areas of Indonesia and Malaysia as market for us as well?
ASEC. MONTENEGRO: We look at the bigger picture, in the case of BIMP-EAGA and therefore in the case of Mindanao, the immediate 70-million market down there in the stretch of Borneo to the Sulawesi of Indonesia as our market destination and not just Visayas and Luzon. But, how do we penetrate these markets? We have to make sure that our products are also very much attuned to the circumstances and realities of the demand in the market in those areas.
Particularly for instance in the cases of our neighbors, halal being a Muslim market predominantly, therefore producing halal certified and halal products is a major consideration for our commodities here in Mindanao.
SEC. ANDANAR: Tumungo naman tayo sa mga updates sa BIMP-EAGA. Nabalitaan kong ikinatutuwa ng ating mga barter traders partikular na sa BARMM itong pagpayag ng Malaysia na ipagpatuloy muli ang mga biyaheng papuntang Sabah ng mga Non-Conventional Sized Ships o NCSS. Ano itong mga NCSS, Asec. Yo?
ASEC. MONTENEGRO: Sec. Martin, ito iyong mga traditional mode of conveyance that’s being used across borders especially between the borders of Philippines here in Mindanao and Palawan and the borders of Indonesia and Malaysia particularly Sabah and Borneo part of Indonesian provinces. It serve as the mode of transport for… especially goods via a barter trade setup.
SEC. ANDANAR: Asec. Montenegro for quite some time now, you’ve been one of the loudest cheerleaders for BIMP-EAGA. Alam kong iilan sa mga kababayan natin sa Mindanao at Palawan ay kung hindi pa nila masyadong naiintindihan ang mga pagkakataon na dala nito ay nag-aalangan siguro tungkol dito. I’d like you to make a pitch to the business community in Mindanao and Palawan to consider the opportunities nearby, the opportunities in BIMP-EAGA.
ASEC. MONTENEGRO: In ASEAN because of ASEAN economic integration and ASEAN economic community that came into force in 2015, whatever we sell to these countries in ASEAN, it’s as if we’re selling it domestically because these are subjected to zero tariff. More than several thousands of tariff lines are accorded zero tariff and being complemented with same treatment of rules and processes by all 10 other countries. So we buy from them, it’s the same thing as we—they sell it to us like domestically.
Kaya nga we’re also flooded, Sec. Martin, unfortunately with many ASEAN products – from the clothes we wear which is probably manufactured in Vietnam, from the cooking oil that we use every morning, these palm oil from Malaysia or from the coffee that we drink such as Kopiko which is a product also of Indonesia.
And so if you look at Mindanao as extending its sites to international destinations immediately within ASEAN, the very areas of BIMP-EAGA is our immediate market kasi iyon nga, we’re closest to these areas than the rest of our domestic market destination. If you are in Tawi-Tawi definitely or in Zamboanga, you’re much closer to Malaysia than you are to Metro Manila for instance. If you are in General Santos and Sarangani Islands for instance, you are much closer to Indonesia than you are to Visayas.
So if you look at having ourselves in Mindanao integrate with our neighbors and definitely we’re looking at strengthening and forming that bond economically because of what we can value add as product aside from treating each other as market of our own output. And so in this case BIMP-EAGA, the four countries happened to be, Sec. Martin, dominant player in terms of the broad production of rubber, palm oil, banana and pineapple.
Rubber, palm oil alone for instance account for around more than 70% to 80% of the world’s output already. That’s about 75 billion dollars produced by these four countries alone, not even the entire country but only these focus areas. So you’re talking about Mindanao along with the output of the states of Sabah and Sarawak and Labuan in Malaysia; and then you have entire Brunei Darussalam and the east, west and central Kalimantan that make up the entire Borneo and the provinces of south and north Sulawesi in Indonesia including West Papua.
So all in all, these focus areas of BIMP-EAGA represent a major contribution to world production of chief agricultural products. Pineapples for instance, if you combine our output with Malaysia and Indonesia, we represent one-third of the global output of pineapple. In terms of banana, of course it’s Philippines. These areas along with Indonesia also present the richest aquaculture and fish products. Our rich tuna spawning areas are within the stretch in the water bordering Indonesia and in the Philippines and Papua New Guinea and all the way stretching to [garbled].
And at the heart of Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia seas lay the coral triangle which is a major effort of these countries through the years in terms of keeping, maintaining and sustaining the richest biodiversity all over the world all together. The focus areas of BIMP-EAGA definitely represent a major contribution to global production of these agri-based commodities. And that is our strength in Mindanao and Palawan being part of this sub-regional cooperation.
SEC. ANDANAR: Susunod, kakausapin natin ang mga Chairman ng BIMP-EAGA Business Council mula sa Mindanao, BARMM at Palawan para sa kanilang pananaw tungkol sa mga pagkakataon sa BIMP-EAGA. Tutok lang sa The Cabinet Report.
Nakatutok pa rin kayo sa Cabinet Report. Kausapin natin ngayon ang mga Chairman ng BIMP-EAGA Business Council. Magsimula tayo kay Engineer Cipriano Barroma, ang Chairman para sa Palawan na nakikita ang kahalagahan ng BIMP-EAGA dahil sa lapit ng Palawan sa Malaysia.
ENGR. BARROMA: From the point southern Palawan tip namin ng Bugsuk, Balabac at saka Bataraza town, kami ang pinakamalapit sa Kudat. Nagpagawa si Governor ng port sa Buliluyan which is 186 kilometers away from Kudat, napakalapit po o 5 to 6 hours lang eh nandudoon ka na sa Sabah, Malaysia. Compared sa Manila to Palawan, it takes about 20 hours, malayo po masyado.
Matagal na kaming may negotiation ng Sabah, also ng Brunei kasi from Labuan to Muara, Brunei is only about 1 hour and a half by boat. So ‘pag nag-open kami ng trading sana sa Sabah pati Muara, Brunei eh gusto naming mapasama.
SEC. ANDANAR: Chairman Cip, papaano naman po ang Indonesia?
ENGR. BARROMA: Ang Indonesia kasi medyo may kalayuan sa amin compared sa Sabah at saka Brunei.
SEC. ANDANAR: Ano ang nakikita ninyong puwedeng i-export ng Palawan sa BIMP-EAGA?
ENGR. BARROMA: Nag-umpisa na kami ng goat raising kasi ang Sabah at saka Brunei kailangan po nila iyong goat with halal goat meat. Alam mo ang beef nila galing pang Australia, napakalayo. So kami rito, pinaghahandaan namin lahat iyon kasi iyong aming baka rito dinadala pa namin sa Batangas. So kung makapag-export sana kami sa Malaysia at saka sa Brunei ng beef at saka goat meat halal eh napakalaking opportunity para sa Palawan. Kung gusto nila ng live weight, buhay mismo, puwede rin namin ipadala.
Pero kung gusto nilang halal, iyong southern Palawan, Bataraza and Brooke’s Point, mayroon na kaming halal center dito. We can send them ng halal meat kung gusto nila.
Gusto rin namin sana magka-supply kagaya ng lobster, crabs, shrimp sa Brunei po at saka sa Malaysia. Iyon din po ang isa naming tinitingnan.
Ready na rin po, kausap namin iyong Bataraza local government unit kasi nandoon sa kanila ang pinakamaraming pineapple plantation. Si Mayor Abi is willing to join us para po sa trading natin sa Malaysia.
So marami po tayong fruits na puwedeng dalhin sa Sabah at saka sa Brunei at saka sa Indonesia kung kailangan nila. May mga mangga po kami, napakakuwan ng—at saka gusto sana namin mag-invite for new investors kaya nakikipag-usap din kami sa China or sa Korea or sa Japan investors na kung puwede maglagay ng mga factory rito sa Palawan dahil wala po kaming factory – kahit canning factory wala, kahit na itong mangga processing plant wala po kami. Eh marami pong prutas dito na puwedeng—kagaya noong kasoy, number one ang kasoy sa buong Pilipinas, ang Palawan, pero wala rin po kaming mga investors.
So Secretary kung matutulungan ninyo kami, ang Palawan, napakaganda pong opportunity dahil napakalapit ng Palawan sa Sabah, Malaysia.
SEC. ANDANAR: ‘Di po natin maiwasang pag-usapan din ang turismo kapag ang paksa ay Palawan. Ano sa tingin ninyo ang mga opportunities para sa tourism sa BIMP-EAGA?
ENGR. BARROMA: Ang Sabah, Malaysia napakalapit at napapansin namin kasi lagi rin kaming nagmi-meeting doon, na napakarami nilang turista. Ang Palawan kasi number one tourist destination na rin ng Pilipinas pero ang aming tourist from abroad lalo pa ang Sabah at saka Brunei napakaliit ho. So kung matulungan kami ng national government about sa tourism, napakalapit po kasi ng Palawan sa Sabah, Malaysia – Kota Kinabalu and Puerto Princesa napakalapit.
SEC. ANDANAR: Ano po Chairman ang masasabi ninyong pinakamalaking hadlang sa kalakalan natin sa BIMP-EAGA?
ENGR. BARROMA: Dapat ma-solve natin iyong connectivity between Palawan and Sabah, also Brunei sa sea at saka sa air – may investor na tayo sa air at inaayos na lang ngayon ang mga papers. We will be having an air transport from Puerto Princesa to Kota Kinabalu then maybe to Brunei.
SEC. ANDANAR: Ano pa po ang kinakailangan ninyong tulong mula sa pamahalaan?
ENGR. BARROMA: Matulungan na sana kami ng national government about sa CIQS problem namin – iyong Custom, Immigration, Quarantine and Security. Nandoon po ang problema, medyo hampered kami because of that problem.
SEC. ANDANAR: Chairman Cip, balita ko dahil sa sobrang lapit na ng ilang parte ng Palawan sa mga kapitbahay natin sa BIMP-EAGA ay napakarami na rin na mga imported products doon.
ENGR. CIPRIANO BARROMA: Kung makakarating ka dito sa Southern Palawan, more so Balabac, town of Balabac, Bataraza, town in Brooke’s Point, at saka Sofronio Española. There are four town sa Southern Palawan na halos ang goods dito ay galing na sa Malaysia, pati mga dry goods, lahat po na mga kuwan, galing na po ng Malaysia. Pero kami, wala masyadong ini-export sa kanila. Pero marami pong dumarating dito na mga goods from Malaysia and Brunei. Kagaya ng mga Maggi nila, mga canned goods, mga flour, even diesel mayroon na dito. Pero ang Palawan, wala po masyado.
Kaya ang karamihan ng mga goods na dumarating sa Palawan from Sabah, ay mga informal businessmen. So nawawalan tayo ng buwis because of that practices, dapat kasi maisama ang Palawan sa barter trading, sa barter trade para maiwasan itong ating mga informal traders.
SEC. ANDANAR: Ito naman po ang sagot ni Mindanao Development Authority Asec. Romeo Montenegro sa tanong ni BIMP-EAGA Business Council Palawan Chairman Cip Barroma kung bakit hindi kasama ang Palawan sa barter trade agreement.
MDA ASEC. MONTENEGRO: Actually, hindi pa siya law via legislation, Sec. Martin, but it was an executive order signed by President Duterte – EO 64, which establishes the Barter Trade Council chaired by DTI and then with Bureau of Customs as vice-chair and with MinDA as secretariat, and several other agencies as part of that council, essentially, to come up with recommendations in terms of very specific rules that will govern formalization of BIMP-EAGA trade, especially the barter set-up between Mindanao and Malaysia.
Mindanao, initially, because ang in-identify lang na ports, tama po si Mr. Barroma ng Palawan, in-identify muna doon sa EO iyong Port of Tawi-Tawi, as well as the Port of Jolo, as entry ports for a barter set-up in that particular executive order. But definitely, the Barter Trade Council had been in discussion to propose the expansion of the barter areas, to cover a few more ports within the Bangsamoro region and to include also specific port in Palawan that had been, through the years, doing barter set-up and barter arrangement with Malaysia.
So this goes into full motion, Sec. Martin, later on once the Barter Trade Council shall have resumed discussions on this and in preparation also for transitioning the role of the barter trade jurisdiction to the Bangsamoro government, in the case of those that are located in Mindanao. Kasi Tawi-Tawi, definitely, and Jolo are part of the Bangsamoro Region and, therefore, barter trade arrangement in those areas will have to be governed no longer by the Barter Trade Council led by DTI but by the Bangsamoro movement.
SEC. ANDANAR: Ngayon naman, kausapin natin si BIMP-EAGA Business Council, BARMM Chairman Redentor “Popoy” Laudin. Kinuwento niya ang kaibahan ng kalakaran ngayon mula sa naaalala niya noon.
BARMM CHAIRMAN LAUDIN: More than 30 years ago, malaki ang export natin. Tayo ang nag-i-export. Ngayon, bumaligtad eh kasi Malaysia become an industrialized country. Kasi dati Sabah manufacturer is less. We were even exporting cement, Coca-Cola, plywood, lahat nito, even copra, lahat from Southern Philippine. We’re getting, like plywood, we’re getting from Zamboanga,
And then, after that, Malaysia become an industrialized country so marami na silang nagkaroon ng factory. So the trade was imbalanced. So ngayon, it’s about parang ten to 90%, most of the product we are buying is 90%, 10% ang medyo iyong ini-export natin.
SEC. ANDANAR: Ano naman kaya ang mga puwede nating i-export mula sa BARMM papuntang Malaysia?
BARMM CHAIRMAN LAUDIN: Ang Malaysia, gustung-gusto nilang mag-import ng saging. When we made a business matching, business meeting sa Sabah, Malaysia, during our meeting, iyon ang unang-unang tinatanong nila, iyong saging. They want [to know] how many containers we can supply, iyong Cavendish. Pangalawa, iyong pineapple. So iyon. Hindi ko sila masagot but the price, we have already discussed, wala namang problema ang pricing – it’s okay.
Kaya lang, if we go through the Southern Philippines, we don’t have the facilities. Iyon lang ang problema ko. Kasi kapag sa demand, wala silang limit kasi gustung-gusto nila, even for Malaysia alone, malaki ang demand. Even the factory for the pineapple in Malaysia, they want to buy kasi maganda iyong quality ng pineapple natin galing sa Maguindanao. Maganda ang quality, kasi very sweet ang pineapple natin, iyon ang gustung-gusto nila. Even also our saging na okay.
Pangatlo, actually ang copra pero not in demand, hindi na masyado. Now, nakita mo iyong as a whole na coconut, iyong coconut? I have a buyer in Southern Thailand. Ngayon iyong buyer ko pumunta ng Malaysia. We arranged in Malaysia for the trans-shipment, and there was no limit for the importation of that. Pero nagkaroon kami ng problema on the quarantine in Malaysia, they don’t allow our coconut to transit to Southern Thailand via Malaysia because of the cocolisap, iyong sakit ba na cocolisap. Kasi baka ma-infect daw iyong palm oil plantation daw nila. So hindi natuloy iyon. Kaya dito sa BIMP-EAGA, when we talk of our product from BARMM to only Sabah, Malaysia, malaki ang demand nila. Pero ang problema lang, because of the facilities, we don’t have that. Kasi we are only using the wooden hull na maliliit na mga lantsa [boat], only 100-ton, 150-ton, ganoon po. So ang madadala lang po namin iyong mga katulad ng candies, junk food para sa supermarket, that’s all we can bring to them.
The port of entry in Sabah is Tawau, Sandakan, Kudat, Labuan. Labuan is one of the states of Malaysia. Separate iyon eh. Sana mayroon tayong investor, a private investor on a shipping. Actually, the government is willing to do that, the Governor of Tawi-Tawi is willing to invest and he wanted to have this sea connectivity between Tawi-Tawi and Lahad Datu because of our products. Ang pinakamaganda, if there is an investor from BARMM – you know, Polloc Port in Maguindanao – so dapat magkakaroon ng connectivity from Polloc Port down to Basilan, to Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi, and then go to Sabah, to any port in Sabah. But the best port in Sabah will be Lahad Datu because they have all the facilities, iyong Lahad Datu. So kapag magkaroon tayo diyan na Ro-Ro na who can accommodate a refrigerated van, maganda talaga kasi we have the buyer in Sabah, like I told you, like the pineapple and banana. Kasi mailalagay na natin doon eh, sa loob ng barko, we can plug in now the refrigerated van.
So iyon ang pinakamaganda kung mayroon sa investors from BARMM area. It should be a private sector investor, ang papasok po diyan. But we need the support from the BARMM government or from the national government. Iyon lang po.
SEC. ANDANAR: Paano naman ang Indonesia?
BARMM CHAIRMAN LAUDIN: I already attended three Indonesian trade fairs in Jakarta. One demand is mango. Pero mahihirapan akong mag-transport ng mango because it will take about only ten days, masisira iyon. And then we don’t have that mango plantation in Sulu and Tawi-Tawi; we have to get from Zamboanga. And then, we don’t know how long it will take to [reach] there, dahil baka masira iyon because we don’t have that facilities. Iyong order, may order, walang problema. Maraming orders sa mango ang Indonesia because they want to process it in Indonesia kasi iyong mango natin ay maganda ang quality, matamis siya, kaya iyon ang gustung-gusto. Even Malaysia also, and then Brunei. Brunei, they like our mango. Kasi nag-i-export ako ng mango sa Brunei dati eh. So nag-stop din ako because of that, maraming [oras ang gugulin sa biyahe], iyong mahaba ba ang [travel time], may risk kasi eh, oo, masisira. Kung hindi [lang masisira], wala tayong problema, especially on agricultural product, they really want it – Indonesia, Brunei and Malaysia – pero we don’t have that facilities.
SEC. ANDANAR: At ang Brunei?
BARMM CHAIRMAN LAUDIN: Actually, ang Brunei, they want a marine sand but this is a big quantity because they are on the construction – iyong marine sand at saka river sand.
SEC. ANDANAR: Kumusta naman ang negosyo sa BIMP-EAGA sa ngayon, Chairman Popoy?
BARMM CHAIRMAN LAUDIN: Lahat ng export namin diyan, may mga more than ten years na nag-slowdown lahat, slowdown lahat. So meaning, there is an imbalance of trade. Totoo po iyan, totoo.
So mayroon din, like for me ha, in Labuan, one of the supermarkets ordered from me – one container every month, all Philippine products, lahat, pero canned food lahat ang gusto nila. Dito naman sa Sandakan, mostly ang candies, like junk food and candies. Iyan ang gusto ng mga supermarket. But the profit margin is really very slim; it’s only about three percent. Pero some of the traders, parang ayaw na nila na kasi medyo maliit. But on the marine product—ganito, Tawi-Tawi, marine products now, we are exporting, we are also importing marine products. Like seaweeds now, our price is higher than Sabah. So ngayon iyong Semporna area which is near the border to Sitangkai, Tawi-Tawi, most of the seaweed there is going now to Sitangkai, iyong from Semporna from Sabah because our price is higher.
And then, some of the fish naman, iyong mga frozen at saka chilled fish, mayroong mura sa atin, mayroon naman mahal sa kanila, mayroon namang binibili natin. It depends on the demand and supply. So continuous po ito. Pero alam mo, ang problema ngayon because of the cross-border security, very tight ngayon ang Malaysia. Very tight, kasi nagkaroon nga iyong alam mo naman, iyong mga kidnapping. Sipadan, it started from Sipadan.
So iyong cross-border trip diyan, iyong mga illegal, non-documented, actually malaki. Now, it slowed down because of the kidnapping. Ngayon iyong Malaysian security is very tight, so medyo mahirap na ngayon, pero minsan mayroon pa rin. Mayroon pa ring nakakaraos because of their product, they want to sell to Tawi-Tawi kasi iyong presyo natin diyan ay medyo mataas like seaweeds, like octopus, iyong fresh octopus. So diyan binibenta nila sa ngayon, as of today.
So iyong volume ng trade, medyo malaki-laki sa BIMP-EAGA, malaki. Pero itong mga trade namin, it’s only good for Sulu and Tawi-Tawi. We are not bringing any product from Tawi-Tawi or from Sulu to Zamboanga. It’s only for the consumption, like us, from Tawi-Tawi, it’s only for consumption for Tawi-Tawi, iyong mga basic commodities.
SEC. ANDANAR: Ano po ang nakikita ninyong hadlang sa pakikipagnegosyo natin sa BIMP-EAGA, Chairman?
BARMM CHAIRMAN LAUDIN: One, ang problema po namin sa Tawi-Tawi is power – mataas ang singil. Pangalawa, iyong tubig – kulang ang supply. Pangatlo, iyong communication – 3G lang eh. Eh paano ka ba makapag-Zoom meeting sa Tawi-Tawi? Hindi puwede! If you want to have Zoom meeting with Tawi-Tawi, cannot. So iyon, iyang tatlo na iyan. Kaya ang mga investors, aatras talaga.
Sa Sulu ang tubig ay walang problema, okay sila. Pero ang problema nila is also power and communication. And tubig sa Sulu is malaki. Sa amin, ang problema ay tubig talaga, sa Tawi-Tawi.
And then Basilan, okay sila kasi malapit lang sa Zamboanga City ang Basilan. So dito, of course, to Lanao, Maguindanao, Marawi, okay iyon. Walang problema kasi malapit sila sa Maria Cristina Falls.
SEC. ANDANAR: Kinausap din natin ang BIMP-EAGA Business Council Chairman from Mindanao na si Vic Lao. Si Mr. Lao ay dati ng chairman ng buong BIMP-EAGA Business Council, at ito ang kaniyang pananaw ukol sa potensiyal ng regional grouping na ito.
- VIC LAO: We have one of the biggest rainforests, the second biggest rainforest in the world, after the Amazon. The Borneo rainforest is the second biggest in the world. We have a huge potential in fisheries and other marine resources. We have a lot of minerals that we can offer to the world.
Now, a lot of other countries are very interested in BIMP-EAGA primarily because we have one of the richest resources in this region.
SEC. ANDANAR: Sang-ayon din siya na dapat lalong magkaisa ang Brunei, ang Indonesia, Malaysia at ang Pilipinas.
- VIC LAO: You need to strengthen your assets in your region, try to maximize your production capacity, and sell it as a group.
SEC. ANDANAR: Kaya lang, ayon sa kaniya, hindi talaga uusbong ang BIMP-EAGA kung hindi lubusang susuportahan ng mga national governments ng mga miyembro nitong bansa ang kani-kaniyang mga focus areas kasama na dito ang Palawan at Mindanao, dito sa Pilipinas.
- VIC LAO: The progress of the BIMP-EAGA will really depend on the level of importance that their national government put into this regional grouping. Of all the four countries, it’s only Malaysia that has some semblance of independence in governance because they’re federal. So the states of Sabah and Sarawak can make, maybe a little freedom in making decisions for their area. We are already very fortunate now that with the President from Mindanao, we are enjoying a higher level of participation in government in terms of infrastructure and other services ‘no. We’re already very fortunate. But I’m just worried that in the event that this advantage is gone, then we will go back to Manila-centric policies that’s not going to be very progressive for Mindanao.
That’s why, I think a lot of Mindanaoans are really looking at the day that we really have to change our system of governance because it should not always be decided by Manila.
SEC. ANDANAR: Pilipinas, napakahalaga na pagtuunan natin ng pansin itong Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines-East ASEAN Growth Area. Maraming pagkakataon para sa kalakalan dito lang sa mga kapit-bansa natin, mga pagkakataon para hindi lamang magbenta sa kanila kung hindi pagkakataon para magbenta kasama nila kapag sinundan natin ang mungkahi ng complementation at value adding.
Isa pa, lalong magiging mahalaga ang rehiyon ng BIMP-EAGA sa darating na panahon. Sa 2024 ang simula ng paglipat ng Indonesia ng kanilang capital mula Jakarta papuntang East Kalimantan na nasa focused area ng BIMP-EAGA sa kanilang bansa. Ibig sabihin niyan, napakalapit na ng bagong seat of power ng Indonesia sa Mindanao at Palawan, at sigurado sa paglipat ng political seat of power, hindi malalayo ang negosyo. Kaya ngayon pa lang, let us take a long overdue look at BIMP-EAGA, and revisit the opportunities nearby.
Ito po si Communication Secretary Martin Andanar para sa Cabinet Report. Mabuhay ang Pilipinas! Mabuhay ang Pilipino!
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