Stakeholders pursue progress, economic support to Sulu
SULU – Governor Totoh Tan met Wednesday with various stakeholders and representatives from the business and government sectors in an effort to further concretize the commitments and pledges made by different corporations to help and bring progress and economic support to Sulu, one of 5 provinces under the Muslim autonomous region.
Tan also signed an executive order creating the Provincial Ad-Hoc Coordinating Council for “Go Negosyo” - an advocacy of the Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship, a non-stock, non-profit organization headed by Jose Maria Concepcion III, the CEO and President of RFM Corporation.
Among those in the meeting – held at the Capitol Building in Patikul town – were Undersecretary Nabil Tan, of the Office of the Presidential Peace Adviser; Secretary Gene Mamondiong, of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority;Ginggay Hontiveros-Malvar, managing director, producer and owner of The Extra MILE Productions – who was a key player in bringing investments to Sulu.
The meeting was only one of a series of interactions among stakeholders and a follow up to the efforts by President Rodrigo Duterte himself in bringing peace and development projects to the province.
In December last year, Duterte launched “Negosyo Para sa Kapayapaan sa Sulu: Christmas Townhall with the President” after the former Sulu Governor Datu Shah Bandar Dr. Sakur Tan – who was also present in the meeting - sought Duterte’s help in August – through the assistance of Concepcion, who is also the Presidential Consultant for Entrepreneurship; and Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol, and other stakeholders.
Duterte invited business people in Malacañang for the launching of the “Save Sulu Project” and among those who committed to help Sulu were PLDT Chairman Manuel Pangilinan, who pledged to rehabilitate and put up more Smart Telecommunication cell sites, build at least 40 houses in the next 2 years, provide water and power to communities and donate hospital equipment and train doctors and grant scholarships.
San Miguel Corporation, which pledged to build a 15-megawatt coal-fired power plant, a feed mill supply chain and to help rebuild the Hajji Buto School of Arts and Trade.
The National Book Store also committed to provide school supplies for at least 100,000 students, and the other donors were Bounty Fresh Food, Inc. which will open up poultry contract growing to farmers; W. Group, which pledged to buy seaweeds from local fishermen and farmers; Gawad Kalinga founder Tony Meloto, who vowed to build at least 100 houses; taipan Lucio Tan and his son, Michael, who both committed to resume air transportation from Zamboanga City to Sulu.
And SM's Tessie Sy-Coson, Rosalind Wee, of the Marine Resources Development Corporation – the country’s biggest producer of carrageenan; the KAPATID Agri Group which will help train farmers; and Rep. Arthur Yap and the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Inc., which will also put up classrooms; Quintin Pastrana, who pledged to put up libraries and literacy programs in Gawad Kalinga villages.
The Department of Agriculture said it will provide tractors, farm implements and agricultural training to farmers in Sulu. Secretary Ramon Lopez, of the Department of Trade and Industry, said SM, Robinsons, Double Dragon, Rustan's and even Puregold would partner with Sulu fishermen and farmers by allocating a specific space in their malls for free.
Some P1 billion from the Office of the President's budget will be made available for small entrepreneurs, and another P50 million for Sulu farmers and if it do well, another P50 million would be made available immediately.
Duterte said he wants to leave it to the economic managers to create the environment where businesses can thrive peacefully with the least intervention of government. “I hope, I said that before the year ends, something concrete and positive will come out. And ito ang gusto kong sabihin sa bayan - you have to heed us people, guys from Mindanao because we are telling you the truth, you have to really transform this country,” he said during the event. (Mindanao Examiner)