P2-B infra projects for Sulu set
John Unson (The Philippine Star) - June 28, 2014 - 3:59pm

COTABATO CITY, Philippines - Local officials in Sulu were delighted learning there is a P2 billion infrastructure allocation for the province from the 2015 budget of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), in what is for them a meaningful Ramadhan gift for local ethnic Tausog and Samah constituents.

The Islamic Ramadhan fasting season starts on Sunday and will last for one lunar cycle, about 29 to 30 days. Muslims fast from dawn to dusk during the Ramadhan as a form of atonement, while doing reparations for wrongdoings. 

ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman on Wednesday personally assured local executives in Sulu, led by Gov. Sakur Tan, Jr., that they will have some P2 billion worth of infrastructure projects next year,  in a message during the inauguration of newly-completed road projects in the province. 

The ARMM governor made the announcement after presiding over a regional cabinet meeting in Sulu’s Maimbung town. Among the projects Tan and Hataman jointly inaugurated on Wednesday was a newly-concreted road straddling through Muslim enclaves in Maimbung, a strategic trading hub near Jolo, capital town of Sulu.

Tan said the provincial government is grateful to the Hataman administration and to Malacañang for continuously implementing various infrastructure projects in Sulu, which complement the efforts of local leaders in addressing domestic socioeconomic issues.

Hataman told reporters he is thankful to Tan and his patriarch, Sulu Vice Gov. Sakur Tan, Sr., for their hands-on involvement in ensuring the prompt accomplishment of the ARMM’s infrastructure goals in the island province, and for helping secure the people implementing the projects.

Hataman and Tan also led the groundbreaking rite for a new P50 million-worth Maimbung seaport project,  in the presence of members of the regional cabinet, among them ARMM's public works secretary, Hadji Emil Sadain, and Regional Executive Secretary Laisa Alamia.

"We are aiming to construct small seaports for every island municipality (in Sulu). We shall also focus on the completion of the circumferential road in the larger mainland of the province. These are just some of the projects we have lined up for Sulu. We are targeting more projects in the area under the 2015 ARMM budget." Hataman had told local officials.

Sadain and his deputy, Engineer Doon Loong, had earlier inaugurated two seaport projects in Sulu,  the new P15 million-worth Tuyang seaport in Talipao, and the fully rehabilitated seaport in Panglima Tahil, which was rebuilt from a P10 million allocation. 

The seaport projects were part of a macro socio-economic intervention, being carried out with the help of Sulu's provincial governor, meant to address poverty and underdevelopment resulting from security problems and the adverse effects of religious extremism spreading in some parts of the island province.

Sulu is a stronghold of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), and where the dreaded Abu Sayyaf, which is fighting for a puritan Islamic state and notorious for beheading of captives, has been harboring kidnap victims snatched from outside of the province, such as the island states in Malaysia and coastal towns the Zamboanga Peninsula.

The MNLF signed a final deal with government on September 2, 1996, but one of its three factions, the one led by the fiery Nur Misuari, who was born and raised in Sulu, had turned around and is now hostile due to misunderstandings on the implementation of certain sensitive provisions of the now 27-year accord, brokered by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, a bloc of 57 Muslim countries, including petroleum-exporting states in the Middle East and North Africa.

The two newly constructed seaports were earlier opened to public use following symbolic inaugural rites attended by local officials and engineers from the ARMM’s Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). 

Sadain said the seaport projects were carried out with utmost transparency, in keeping with a directive from Hataman to keep all programs of work and budgetary details open to scrutiny by media and the local civil society organizations.

The DPWH-ARMM also has two on-going water system projects in the province, the multi-million Tumantangis, and Sagay-Sagay water supply facilities in the periphery of Jolo, the capital town of Sulu, both designed to provide villagers with safe drinking water.

The Tumantangis wayer system, costing P40 million, will be comprised of two large, 1,000-cubic meter catchment facilities and supply ducts. The DPWH-ARMM has earmarked P30 million for the Sagay-Sagay water system from the region’s 2014 infrastructure subsidy from the national government.

Sadain said their projects in Sulu complements the Southern Mindanao peace process of President Benigno Aquino III, which aims to provide socio-economic empowerment to local Moro communities to hasten the restoration of normalcy in areas beset by nagging, decades-old peace and security issues.

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