By Ali G. Macabalang
Buluan, Maguindanao — Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) President and CEO Alex Buenaventura led the groundbreaking ceremony here on Thursday for the construction of a P200-million multi-purpose building that will house a business process outsourcing (BPO), a 200-room hotel and a mall-like modern commercial center.
“We are profusely impressed with what we see and hear about the trailblazing growth of Maguindanao stemming from comprehensive efforts of incumbent officials led by Governor (Esmael) Mangudadatu,” Buenaventura said in Filipino in his brief message preceding the ceremonial groundbreaking for the project.
Buenaventura and Mangudadatu, alongside other LBP executives and provincial officials, buried the project’s time capsule on a 100 by 300-meter lot for the three-story building along the national highway here.
The site lies on the other side of the road fronting the P342-million new provincial capitol building now nearing completion.
Officials of the FFJJ Construction firm, which won the project bidding months ago, said the construction of the mixed BPO, hotel and commercial building would immediately commence and be completed in 10 months to one year.
The project eventual completion and operation will “further boost” host officials’ stride in transforming Magundanao into “MagandaNow,” Buenaventura said.
Mangudadatu said the provincial government conceived the project not only to enhance the local economy but also to help address poverty-driven aspect of extremism propensity among some Moro residents.
The BPO center will be run by at least 240 workers to be selected from unemployed or underemployed graduates of Arabic and Islamic studies who could readily communicate with overseas clients from the Middle East, he said.
In past meetings of the provincial peace and order council, Mangudadatu recalled that informants from military, police and Islamic scholars (ulama) had identified some jobless or underpaid Arabic teachers have been disgruntled by lack of attention from government and become ideologues for violent extremism.
The operation of both the proposed hotel and commercial center will also promote the “internal circulation of money” in Maguindanao, Mangudadatu said, citing the century-old practice of residents in travelling to and spending in urban centers like Gen. Santos, Davao and Cotabato cities due to lack of such facilities in the province.
According to local economists, affluent Maguindanao residents spent an average of P30-million expenses per month outside the province.