Saturday, October 09, 2010

Sulu fast becoming Mindanao gateway to South Asia

Sulu Governor Sakur Tan briefs Gawad Kalinga people in Maimbung town where the provincial government built many housing projects for the poor. (Mindanao Examiner Photo)

SULU, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Oct. 9, 2010) – Sulu indeed has changed. From a war-torn province where troops and rebels battle over control of the territory, Sulu is fast becoming a gateway to Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei.

Now with an airport bigger than the Zamboanga International Airport, Sulu hopes to attract more airliners to open routes in the province. Philippine Air Lines has already opened its regular 3 times-a-week flights from Zamboanga City to Sulu and further boosting trade and commerce in the province.

Ferries also ply the Zamboanga-Sulu-Sandakan routes and traders and travelers come and go. And all these compliment the peace and development programs of the Sulu provincial government, according to Governor Sakur Tan.

Tan, who is now serving a second term, said he implemented various infrastructure projects during his first 100 days and is now continuing in many parts of Sulu. “I really don’t count the number of days of my public service. I just continue working hard for our people, for the development and progress of my beautiful province,” he said.

His first 100 days were marked with ground breaking and inaugurations of many development projects – from urban housing, health and education, to the promotion of tourism and trade in Sulu.

“Ours is a short and long-term program that will surely benefit not only our people and the province, but also the region as well. We have an ambitious peace and development programs that will address poverty,’ Tan said.

Although Sulu gets little projects from the Muslim autonomous regional government, Tan said they learned how to survive on their own by tapping so-called “people power.” “We have our own version of people power and this is the cooperation of the different sector of our society - the people themselves, in making and achieving that change that will benefit us all, our children and the future - in the end. It is simply hard work,” he said.

Tan said he is currently developing Maimbung, a coastal town where he plans to build a fish port and cold storage by January and which would be given to cooperatives, whose members are mostly fishermen and farmers.

“Our fish port and cold storage projects are expected to begin by January and before 2011 ends, Maimbung will then become one of the busiest port and fishing complex in the Sulu archipelago,” he said.

On top of that, Tan said he would also build a market place where locals can sell their catch and other marine products. Tan, after his inauguration in June, immediately ordered government engineers to build a school that would offer free education to locals specializing in fishery and agriculture.

Among Tan’s other projects during his first 100 days in office include fish cages and lobster fattening and seaweed farming in many coastal areas where fishermen formed themselves into cooperatives.

“I am a firm believer of cooperatives and we have aggressively promoted and formed many cooperatives that benefitted our farmers and fisher folks and even housewives are now members of cooperatives and they are enjoying the livelihood benefits of all these projects and programs,” he said.

Tan, a known philanthropist and religious man, said he would like to see Sulu as a peaceful and progressive province, a former seat of government of the once powerful Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo which ruled over much of the southern Philippines in the past. At its peak, it stretched over the islands that bordered the western peninsula of Mindanao in the east to Palawan in the north. It also covers the area in northeastern side of Borneo, stretching from Kimanis in now Sabah, to Tepian Durian in now Kalimantan. (Mindanao Examiner)

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