ZAMBOANGA CITY, Zamboanga Sibugay—The business community here will finance and endorse deserving local candidates in the 2016 elections “as a last ditch effort to push an stagnant local economy perpetually mired in an unstable security situation,” a sectoral leader said.
Pocholo Soliven, region 9 governor of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), told media that the business sector “is willing to help fund the campaign of deserving candidate for City Hall’s top post provided he or she “can deliver a stable security situation to provide the impetus for more trading and investment activity in our highly urbanized city”.
Soliven said his group has a set standards on candidates, noting that “leadership is very important in the light of what is happening in our locality, especially on security matters” as he recalled the September 2013 Zamboanga siege by the Moro National Liberation Front which killed some 200 rebels, soldiers and policemen and caused the burning of the semi-urban villages of Rio Hondo, Santa Catalina, Talon-Talon, Santa Barbara and Kasanyangan.
He said the focus was now on the city’s positioning in view of the Association of Southeast Asian market integration in 2015 where Zamboanga is considered the commercial and trade center of Western Mindanao and nearby Muslim Mindanao’s island provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi—vies with other cities and provinces are expected to draw investors as well.
“Zamboanga boasts of deserving leaders most qualified to serve as city officials but are hesitant to join the political arena due to an entrenched system where money determines election winners,” Soliven said, adding that “we often lose good leaders who have the heart for the greater good because of patronage politics.”