Filipino economy to benefit from peace

Jan. 21, 2013 at 11:10 AM
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MANILA, Jan. 21 (UPI) -- A U.K. investment bank predicts that the entire Filipino economy could benefit from an MILF peace treaty.

Britain's Standard Chartered Plc. multinational banking and financial services company said in a recent research publication, "The entire Mindanao island group receives a positive economic spillover from the peace deal."

The report said a peace deal this year could add 0.1 of a percentage point to the Filipino economy and 0.3 percentage points each year 2018 once the agreement's "economic benefits" are realized.

"We believe that a complete peace deal will accelerate economic growth in the ARMM over five years and that this will spill over to the larger Mindanao island group," Standard Chartered, as reported Sunday by The Philippine Star, stated.

"A peace deal could narrow regional disparities and place the Mindanao island group on a faster growth trajectory."

The flourishing economy's faster growth would in turn translate into more jobs, the firm said.

Standard Chartered closely monitors events in Asia, as roughly 90 percent of its profits come from Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Standard Chartered's market capitalization is approximately $52.3 billion, the 13th largest of any company with a primary listing on the London Stock Exchange and the firm has secondary listings on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and the National Stock Exchange of India, with its largest shareholder being the government of Singapore's Temasek Holdings.

The peace agreement making Standard Chartered so optimistic was signed in October between Filipino President Benigno Aquino announced and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

"This framework agreement paves the way for a final and enduring peace in Mindanao," Aquino said.

MILF Vice Chairman Ghazali Jaafar said: "We are very happy. We thank the president for this."

The peace agreement between Manila and the MILF, a militant Islamist group in the southern Philippines, provides for implementing increased autonomy in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, which incorporates the provinces of Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

In a further gesture toward regional sentiment, ARMM is to be renamed "Bangsamoro" after the Moro people.

The MILF grew out of the Moro National Liberation Front, an Islamist group formed in the late 1960s following the December 1967 Jabidah massacre of Muslims in Corregidor. Manila then sent send troops into the southern Philippines to control the insurgency. The MILF formally split off from the MNLF in 1984, and has waged a guerrilla campaign against the central government since.

The prospect of peace in ARMM after more than four decades of armed struggle has led the Filipino government to predict, based on Standard Chartered estimates, that ARMM's per capita income could soar and could see annual capita income of $1,231 rise to $3,200 within four years.

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