2 BARMM provinces now have watermelon, fishing capitals
The market in Malabang is flooded with watermelons.
Philstar.com/John Unson

2 BARMM provinces now have watermelon, fishing capitals

John Unson (Philstar.com) - April 17, 2021 - 6:24pm

COTABATO CITY, Philippines — There are two seaside southern towns now popular for monikers, or tags, that residents are so proud about.

Malabang town became known lately as “watermelon capital” of Lanao del Sur for its having been the top producer of watermelon from among 39 towns in the province in recent months.

There is, in fact, a big daily watermelon harvest surplus in Malabang since the April 13 start of the Islamic Ramadhan fasting season.   

Records obtained Saturday from Bangsamoro provincial and regional agriculture officials indicated that Malabang, indeed, is now the watermelon capital of Lanao del Sur.

Members of the municipal peace and order council said Saturday it is for the fragile peace now spreading around Malabang that local farmers can now till their lands without being disrupted by conflicts among big clans.

Malabang was the “rido,” or clan war capital of the second district of Lanao del Sur for about 40 years until a neophyte politician, Tomas Macapodi, who is not a political warlord, was elected municipal mayor in 2019.

The then derelict Malabang accounted for most number of clan wars from among towns in the second district of Lanao del Sur.

The Malabang LGU did not even have a functional garbage collection truck when Macapodi assumed as mayor on June 30, 2019.

“There is this seeming `from arms-to-farms’ paradigm now among farmers in Malabang,” Major Gen. Juvymax Uy, commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said Saturday.

In Maguindanao, the fledgling coastal Datu Blah Sinsuat town recently became known as the “fishing capital” of the province.

Datu Blah Sinsuat, or “DBS,” is located in west of Maguindanao province.

Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao are both component-provinces of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

The now 14-year DBS, which has 13 barangays, was originally part of Upi, Maguindanao.

Residents of DBS used dynamites, cyanide and fine-meshed nets to catch fishes in its territorial waters years before the town’s creation by the legislature of the now defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

The LGU of DBS started protecting its fishing grounds extensively about six years ago via an anti-illegal fishing program involving traditional Moro and ethnic Teduray elders, the local police, the military and municipal officials led by Mayor Marshall Sinsuat.

Like Macapodi, a Maranao, Sinsuat, a scion of a noble Maguindanaon clan, also does not rely on a private army to perpetuate political power.

DBS did not have even a single case of cattle theft or a deadly conflict between local clans in the past six years.

Daily catch of fishes from the territorial seas of DBS have been so abundant since 2014, according to key sources from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries-BARMM.

DBS supplies the markets in Cotabato City and nearby towns in Maguindanao weekly with about 15 tons of fishes, including Tuna, Albacore and Grouper, or “Lapu-Lapu” species according to the sources.

“The feat is partly attributable to the defunct government of ARMM and now to the newly-established Bangsamoro government,” Sinsuat said

Sinsuat, as mayor of DBS, is chairperson of the municipal peace and order council.

Sinsuat said Saturday he is thankful to members of their “Bantay Dagat,” comprised of volunteers from the 13 barangays of DBS guarding against illegal fishing round-the-clock.

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