Date: June 2, 2008 2:44:15 AM EDT
Subject: [kgma] PGMA reiterates LGUs role in economic development
MANILA (PNA) -- In her recent visit to the island province of
Tawi-Tawi in Mindanao, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has
reiterated the important role of the local government units (LGUs) in
the development and improvement of their locality.
During the launching of the Tawi-tawi Modified Mariculture Development
Project in Sibutu town, the President said the project is in line in
developing the war-torn Mindanao as an agribusiness region -- the next
food basket of the Philippines.
"The way to peace begins with providing a person a job, food on the
table, and human dignity. Central to that success is to invest in the
people -- in education, health care, roads, and bridges," she said.
President Arroyo said the mariculture project is a best way to
increase the income of fisherfolk and improve their lives.
"Malaki ang inaasahang kikitain ng proyektong ito. Ang mga isdang
aalagaan dito ay matataas ang halaga sa bilihan. Kaya sa palaisdaan
lamang, kung makakabuo ng 500 kilos tuwing anihan, hindi malayong
umabot sa P100 million ang kikitain. Hindi pa kasama rito ang perlas
at agar-agar (seaweeds)," she said.
Aside from the mariculture project, the President also launched the
P324 million Tawi-Tawi Bridge-Road Partnership Project, which is
funded by GEM-USAID, Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH),
and the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) government.
She said the project is a long road in the province mainland, with a
bridge that would connect the five towns of Tawi-Tawi to Bongao.
"Investing in the vital infrastructure also includes building up our
environment as a reflection of our commitment to our quality of life,"
She urged local government officials in the province who would be
directly benefiting from the infrastructure project "to ensure that
construction will be done with the least damage to the ecosystems of
the project area."
President Arroyo also visited a Madarasa to inspect the desks and
chairs, which are part of the P1 billion national budget for school
furniture to ensure that all students are seated comfortably while
"Spending on physical and human infrastructure network remains central
to the ability of our nation to break the historic cycle of despair
and to prepare and to meet the challenges of the future," she said.
"We have and will continue to invest heavily in new spending," she added.
The President also announced the launching of the conditional cash
transfer program wherein some 3,000 poor families in the province will
receive monthly allowances.
However, to be able to receive monthly allowances, she said parents
should ensure that their children in the elementary would attend
Aside from the conditional cash transfer, President Arroyo said these
indigent families could also avail of the "food-for-school" program of
the government to encourage them more to send their kids to school and
in turn, lessen the poverty incidence of Tawi-tawi which is recorded
at 78.9 percent.
Under the food-for-school program, elementary students in public
schools will receive a kilo of rice that they can bring home every
time they attend classes.
The President, however, noted that despite intervention from the
national government such as providing basic services to the people of
Tawi-tawi, which is considered the poorest province in the country,
many are still struggling to live.
In Sibutu town alone, which is about four hours from Bongao, majority
of the people there complained of the high price of the government
subsidy rice from the National Food Authority (NFA).
In talking with few store owners in the area, they said that in
Bongao, traders buy NFA rice at P18.25 a kilo, as there is no
"Bigasang Bayan" outlet in the area. But when the traders transported
the rice to Sibuto, which costs about P50, the price of government
subsidy rice was junked up to P25 per kilo.
The Sibutu residents prefer buying imported rice from Sabang,
Malaysia, which is an hour travel via speed boat, as it is cheaper
than buying NFA rice.
Another complaint of the Sibutu residents is the lack of potable
water, even the government's only hospital in the area has salty water.
Two years ago, the national government constructed a "Tubigan ni
Gloria" in Sibutu, which was placed at the back of the hospital. But,
this was never put in operation to the dismal of the residents.
The people said the Tubigan ni Gloria just served "as a reminder" that
there is still a government.
"We are aware that no matter how much improvement there is at the top
of the economic ladder, many of our people in Tawi-Tawi still
struggling mightily," she said.
She called on local officials that the key areas of focus of the
government are the three "E's" -- economy, environment and education.
"These are central to lifting Tawi-tawi up, central to success," the
President said. (PNA)
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