Economic boom in Northern Mindanao
ILIGAN CITY – This highly urbanized city in Northern Mindanao is living up to its name as a first class city with its wide roads and a busy commercial district that hosts dozens of restaurants, a medium sized shopping mall and two bigger ones still under construction – one of them reportedly owned by boxing great and Senator Manny Pacquiao.
I arrived here last Thursday to take part in a two-day local convention of the Catholic renewal movement called the Schoenstatt Lay movement which has a growing chapter in Iligan City. It’s my second time to be here in this lovely place blessed with moderate weather and seas teeming with natural resources. I came here in 2010 to take part in a similar event and was I floored to see Iligan City’s progress after close to a decade.
Streets are cleaner, traffic is a bit heavier, and police visibility is high. Smoking is prohibited in public places and a Martial Law curfew is in effect. The curfew signal for minors is 10 PM. Adults would risk punishment if they’re out at 12 midnight.
Opposition groups have slammed Martial Law in Mindanao which took effect in May 23, 2017. President Rodrigo Duterte used his emergency powers to address the armed conflicts between the Maute Group and an Islamist group, on one hand, and the Armed Forces of the Philippines, on the other. Now index crimes or crimes against persons and property have gone down tremendously.
In the past, Iligan was gripped by an upsurge of index crimes perpetrated by the Kuratong Baleleng group and the Parojinogs of Ozamiz City. But President Duterte’s bloody war on drugs brought down the evil empires and the neighboring provinces of Lanao del Norte, in particular, Iligan City is reaping the dividends of the Duterte campaign.
Martial Law in Mindanao is set to be lifted at the end of this year, but if the feedback I’m getting from my friends here are any indication, Malacañang can hope to gain support if it will again ask Congress to extend it.
Martial Law used to strike fear in all sectors in any part of the country especially among businessmen but certainly not in Iligan City where restaurants, coffee shops and specialty foods have mushroomed in the central business district.
Businessmen are positioning in this Northern Mindanao City in anticipation of an economic boom which is set to happen in the next three years when a number of big-ticket projects will reach completion.
One of them is the 60.4-kilometer road project which will make travel from Iligan City to Bukidnon shorter by one and a half hours. Close to P395 million had been earmarked for this diversion project that will cross through the mountains of Iligan City going to Bukidnon.
Another big budgeted project is the Panguil Bay Bridge which began construction early this year. The Panguil Bay span costing P7.3 billion will connect Tubod in Lanao del Norte to Tangub City in Misamis Occidental. Ocean going vessels are plying this route at the moment but once this project is completed, travel from Tubod to Tangub and vice versa will take 20 minutes at the most.
My sources in Iligan City told me that the approach section is already done. The Korean Economic Development Fund is financing this project.
Aside from the PBB, other projects identified by the Regional Development Council Region 10 are the Mindano Railway System and airport upgrades in Ozamiz, Surigao, and Laguindingan airport in Cagayan de Oro. The infrastructure overdrive in Northern Mindanao aims to create a world-class industrial and service center.
No wonder, businessmen are virtually making a beeline to Northern Mindanao.
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