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P8 billion banana plantation to rise at former MILF camp
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said a Bangsamoro group representing owners of 7,000 hectares of land at Camp Abubakar in Barira, Maguindanao has inked an agreement with Russian and Swiss investors.
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P8 billion banana plantation to rise at former MILF camp

Louise Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star) - January 26, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Foreign investors are set to develop an P8-billion banana plantation, seen as the first big investment in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao following the plebiscite on the law creating the area.

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said a Bangsamoro group representing owners of 7,000 hectares of land at Camp Abubakar in Barira, Maguindanao has inked an agreement with Russian and Swiss investors.

The group was represented by former Buldon mayor Taungan Macasandag and former vice mayor Nasrudin Maluag, while French-Russian businessman Robert Gaspar represented TechIron Resources Inc. and Solway Group.

“Both TechIron Resources and Swiss-owned Solway Group have interests in mining and minerals but are now venturing into agriculture and aquaculture in the Philippines targeting the Russian market,” Piñol said.

The project is expected to be launched on Feb. 16 in Camp Abubakar, with an initial 1,000 hectares for development.

The agreement allows the investors to conduct surveys, soil testing and aerial mapping of the area.

The Department of Agriculture (DA), for its part, will dispatch a team of soil experts, solar irrigation engineers and digital technologists to help farmers prepare the area.

The experts are also directed to select sites at the five rivers in the area for the installation of solar panels and pumps to draw water for irrigation.

Survey results will be submitted to the DA on Feb. 4, which will be turned over to the foreign investors.

The P8-billion project is expected to provide employment to at least 10,000 workers.

The foreign investment followed the visit of President Duterte to Moscow in May 2017, which resulted in the opening of the Russian market to Philippine agriculture and fisheries products.

Misuari’s alleged graft

Meanwhile, the Sandiganbayan deferred yesterday the arraignment of Moro National Liberation Front founder Nur Misuari after he filed an appeal seeking the dismissal of his graft and malversation cases, which stemmed from the alleged anomalous purchase of educational materials in 2000 and 2001 during his term as governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

In a short hearing yesterday morning, the court’s Third Division noted that Misuari, through his lawyer Manolo Flores, filed on Jan. 14 a motion for reconsideration urging the court to reconsider its Nov. 29, 2018 resolution denying his motion to dismiss his two counts of graft and another two counts of the complex crime of malversation of public funds through falsification of public documents, which the Office of the Ombudsman filed against him in May 2017.

The Third Division said the arraignment cannot push through until the pending motion is resolved. The court tentatively set Misuari’s arraignment on Feb. 27.

Based on the charge sheets filed by the ombudsman, P31 million was paid to MBJ Learning Tools on Dec. 21, 2000 while P46.261 million was paid to CPR Publishing on July 24, 2001 for the supply of information technology packages.

The ombudsman said none of the supposed purchased materials were ever delivered. Instead, Misuari and his co-accused former regional officials of the Department of Education allegedly falsified disbursement vouchers, purchase orders, canvass reports, sales invoices, delivery receipts and other supporting documents to make it appear that the transactions were aboveboard.

In his motion, Misuari argued that the cases must be dismissed as he was no longer the governor of ARMM when the questioned transactions were made. – With Elizabeth Marcelo 

BANANA PLANTATION BANGSAMORO AUTONOMOUS REGION MILF NUR MISUARI
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