Gibo: Rebuild Maguindanao’s economy

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — LAKAS-Kampi-CMD presidential bet Gilberto “Gibo” Teodoro Jr. yesterday said the government should undertake parallel and intensive efforts to rebuild Maguindanao’s ruined economy and strengthen its civil service.

Teodoro stressed that economic reconstruction can hasten the process to reinvigorate the local economy ravaged by years of violence and the “culture of terror and lawlessness” perpetrated by the ruling Ampatuan clan.

He said rebuilding Maguindanao’s economy will send a “positive signal that peace and normalcy” have returned to the region and province.

“Economic reconstruction fosters a broad constituency for peace by laying the foundation for sustained economic activity,” said Teodoro, who flew to Maguindanao to personally extend assistance to families of the 57 victims of the November 23 massacre.

Teodoro said swift recovery can be realized by professionalizing the local bureaucracy and employing public servants based on credentials and qualification, rather than their relations to the Ampatuan clan. He urged the government to provide livelihood loans and training to the province’s indigenous tribes and marginalized sectors.

“Their inability to support themselves and their families is the primary cause of lawlessness in Maguindanao. If we can provide them with peaceful ways of making a decent living, then all incidence of violence in the region will be greatly minimized or even be removed completely,” he added.

Teodoro said the government can speed up the region’s economic healing by promoting Maguindanao as an ideal investment destination because of its cheap labor and proximity to rich agricultural, fishing and mining resources.

The government can also provide loans and other incentives to local businessmen to expand their operations and their employment, he said.

Teodoro said additional security forces and modern road networks “will come to naught if we are unable to address poverty in the region.”

The Lakas-Kampi-CMD bet is also pushing for the construction of modern roads, bridges, schools and other support infrastructure that would pave the way for the development of industry and commerce in the area, and greatly aid in removing the ill-effects caused by generations of fighting and recent imposition of martial law. He also batted for the stationing of more peace-keeping forces in the region to “preserve the gains of peace” during the reconstruction process.