Friday, February 25, 2011

Sulu gets modern fish port, cold storage

Filipino Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala leads Sulu provincial officials headed by Governor Sakur Tan to the groundbreaking ceremony of a huge fishing port complex and cold storage facility worth over P32 million in the town of Maimbung. Once completed this year, the complex is expected to hasten trade and commerce in the provinces of Sulu and Tawi-Tawi in the Sulu archipelago, a favorite fishing ground in the southern Philippines. (Mindanao Examiner Photo)

SULU, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Feb. 25, 2011) – Filipino Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala flew to the Muslim autonomous province of Sulu in the southern Philippines where he led government officials in the groundbreaking ceremony of a huge fishing port complex and cold storage facility in the town of Maimbung.

The complex, worth over 32 million pesos, is expected to hasten trade and commerce in the provinces of Sulu and Tawi-Tawi in the Sulu archipelago, a favorite fishing ground in the southern Philippines.

Alcala, accompanied by senior officials from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources headed by Malcolm Sarmiento and Rodolfo Paz Jr., of the Philippine Fisheries Development Authority, arrived on Thursday and met with Governor Sakur Tan and other provincial officials and discussed other agricultural and livelihood projects for Sulu.

“Sulu is such a beautiful place and there are a lot of potentials for Sulu and this fish port complex and cold storage facility will surely be a big boost and hasten the local economy. You have a very good leader who is really working hard as we can see the various agricultural programs and projects here,” Alcala told a huge crowd of farmers and fishermen and villagers who witnessed the groundbreaking ceremony.

He also met with Maimbung Mayor Samier Tan and held a forum with fishermen and farmers and pledged to send working animals for cooperatives in Sulu and also experts in mariculture, a specialized branch of aquaculture involving the cultivation of marine organisms for food and other products in the open ocean, an enclosed section of the ocean, or in tanks, ponds or raceways which are filled with seawater.

The provincial government has in the past years promoted mariculture in coastal towns where fishermen organized themselves into cooperatives and raise prawns, oysters and various species of fishes in pens and cages. They are also involved in seaweed farming.

Alcala also said that he would sent a team of agriculturists to inspect banana plantations affected by an epidemic in at least five towns; and another team that would work with their local counterparts in seaweed tissue culture.

Tan also toured Alcala’s group to various sites in Sulu where the provincial government constructed hundreds of shelters as part of its housing program for the poor.

Alcala said he would report his visit to Sulu to President Benigno Aquino and tell him about the huge potentials of the province in the fishing industry.

On Wednesday, Tan convened a meeting of various government agencies and stakeholders to draw plans that would effectively address natural calamities and other emergencies in Sulu.

Tan called on stakeholders to actively participate in governance and to strengthen and revitalize the networking capabilities of the Area Coordinating Council, which coordinate the province’s various nongovernmental agencies, military, police, emergency services and other organizations and serves as an inter-agency communication network.

Tan is the chairman of the Area Coordinating Council which he established as a proactive, reactive, and post conflict mechanism to address various concerns at regional and local levels of governance and to solve problems of coordination and response.

Touching on the recent flash flood that hit Sulu early this month, Tan said: “The needs of Sulu are not merely centered on relief and assistance, for calamities are not an everyday occurrence, but instead we need to underline the long-term vision of the government such as poverty-alleviation and livelihood programs and the active involvement of community and people.”

“My official position is merely temporal, but the community and the people will outlive any political position or personality,” he added.

Eight people had been killed in Sulu’s coastal town of Jolo after flash flood swept away houses and destroyed government infrastructure. The President visited Sulu on February 11 and led the distribution of relief goods to thousands of villagers left homeless by the floods.

Tan said despite the calamity, many good things are happening for Sulu and he cited Aquino’s visit to the province and who pledged more development projects for Sulu, one of five provinces under the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

He said a day after Aquino’s visit, Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman flew to Sulu for the second time in 24 hours to hand-over shelter projects and launched government-financial assistance program for the poor. These were on top of hundreds of housing projects built by the provincial government recently.

Tan said Sulu will host the regional police headquarters that will oversee peace and order in the province and nearby Basilan and Tawi-Tawi provinces which are also part of the Muslim autonomous region.

The regional police headquarters are currently located in Maguindanao province in Mindanao. “Peace and order is an integral component of development efforts and the regional office in Sulu will mean more effective and quick responses to eventualities,” he said. (Mindanao Examiner)

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