'Diamond City' soon to rise in Cotabato City

COTABATO CITY – The signing of the Bangsamoro framework agreement between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) opened development opportunities in southern Philippines that led businessmen in Cotabato City to create a group called “Bangsamoro Business Club” (BBC).


The idea of creating the BBC, according to its club president Mohammad Omar Pasigan, came out after the October 2012 signing of the framework agreement in Malacañang.


Pasigan, who is affiliated with the MILF, stressed that the Bangsamoro Business Club is not connected with the rebel organization, but it’s the business sector's way of advocating unity and peace towards development in the Bangsamoro.


"We don't put ourselves in a very specific position that it’s only affiliated with MILF because we are talking of Bangsamoro. Maybe it's the right time for us as businessmen to join them in developing the same place that we have," Pasigan said.


The Bangsamoro Business Club, which has about 20 core members, is not exclusive to Muslim businessmen. Filipino-Chinese traders in Central Mindanao have also joined the club.


Pasigan said they plan to expand the club in other areas also in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and make it Mindanao-wide.


He added that the BBC is different from the existing commerce and industry clubs since it's more involved on socio-civic activities driven by the goals of unity and peace.


One of BBC's plans is to empower small-scale entrepreneurs in the Bangsamoro so they can go into businesses, especially now that the peace negotiation between the government and MILF is progressing.


As a result of the progress in the peace talks, businessmen in Cotabato are starting to again build their confidence and optimism that there's a future in the economy of the Bangsamoro, and with this, they see businesses will bloom in the region.


A new commercial establishment, “Diamond City”, will soon rise in Cotabato City.


The establishment, owned by members of the BBC, is a composed of a hotel, resort, restaurants, boutiques, gasoline station, department store and convention center.


Pasigan said “Diamond City” will be a melting pot of culture in the region which will not only boost economy and tourism but will also help reduce unemployment.

The Bangsamoro Business Club will be formally launched on February 28 in Cotabato City where foreign dignitaries are expected to come. -- Lore Mae L. Andong, ABS-CBN News Central Mindanao