Tawi-tawi gets P56 M worth of infra projects

John Unson - Philstar.com

COTABATO CITY, Philippines - The local government unit of Tawi-Tawi’s capital town Bongao on Monday got a P56 million grant for arterial networks around Bud Bongao and its conversion into an eco-tourism hub.

Bud Bongao is a majestic peak at one side of Bongao municipality, where the Tawi-Tawi provincial capitol is located.

The executive department of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) will bankroll the development of Bud Bongao into a protected eco-tourism corridor through the office of Bongao Mayor Jasper Que.

Que and ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman on Monday signed in Cotabato City a memorandum of agreement (MOA) detailing the construction of roads connecting nearby villages to Bud Bongao.

Don Mustapha Loong, who is ARMM’s public works secretary, and Tawi-Tawi’s district engineer, Bensoud Ajihil, also affixed their signature to the MOA, which also underscored eco-tourism thrusts for Bud Bongao.

Que said he is grateful to the Hataman administration for entrusting to their LGU the P56 million infrastructure deal his office will directly handle.

“That is manifestation that the local government unit of Bongao enjoys the trust and confidence of the ARMM government,” Que said.

Loong and Hataman urged Que, in the presence of reporters, to observe utmost transparency in spending the grant.

Officials said Bongao has 35 barangays now being interconnected to the town proper by the ARMM through costly arterial road network projects using the region’s 2013, 2014, 2015 annual infrastructure budgets.

“We are thankful to the ARMM government and to Malacañang for all of these development initiatives. These will usher in improvements in the security and socio-economic landscape of Bongao,” Que said.

Hataman said Que should keep residents of Bongao, one of the 11 towns in Tawi-Tawi, informed of the project’s funding details and corresponding programs of work through the local media.

The ARMM governor said he is confident Que and Ajihil, who are overseeing all infrastructure projects of the regional government in Tawi-Tawi, can efficiently forge ahead with the objectives of the MOA they signed last Monday at the Office of the Bangsamoro People in Cotabato City.  

For superstitious folks, Bud Bongao, which is Tawi-Tawi’s most popular and scenic mountain overlooking the Sulu seas, is a hallowed spot and an icon of how Islam became the pioneer religion in the province.

It was in the now island town of Simunul in Tawi-Tawi where 14th century Arab missionary Karimul Makdum built what is now touted as the first ever mosque in the country.

Makdum pioneered the introduction of Islam to seafarers and dwellers in what are now 11 island towns in Tawi-Tawi after setting foot in the province, all the way from the Middle East, via what is now Malaysia.

Arab missionaries who came to Tawi-Tawi after Makdum had set foot in Bohe Indangan in Simunul were buried at Bud Bongao, which has forested areas that are protected habitats of different animal and bird species.


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