PGMA: Tawi-Tawi is very much part of RP

April 26, 2010 8:14 pm 

Simunul, Tawi Tawi, April 26 — President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo vowed here on Monday that she would always work for the full development of Tawi Tawi province if only to show that this southernmost area of the country is “very much a part of the Philippines.”

She was reacting to repeated comments by Lone District Rep. Datu Nur Jaafar of Tawi Tawi that the visit displayed the President’s love for the people of Tawi Tawi, who Jaafar said, had long experienced neglect by previous administrations.

“Now we truly feel that Tawi Tawi and its municipalities are indeed a part of the wonderful Republic of the Philippines,” Jaafar said.

The President spoke before thousands of Sama natives, garbed in their colorful native costumes, at the Simunul municipal multi purpose center, where Jaafar, made mention of numerous laws passed by Congress and signed by the President which included the conversion of the Simunul provincial road into a national circumferential road.

Being the first visit by a president of the Republic, the people walked through long dusty and bumpy roads and gave her a warm welcome. The President’s party arrived via helicopters which she used in an aerial inspection of the circumferential road.

The President then went on to narrate that her father, President Diosdado Macapagal had brought her to Tawi Tawi as a young child and that he, then an assistant counselor of the Department of Foreign Affairs, was among the first officials to initiate the inclusion of Turtle Islands in the Philippine territory.

She praised Western Mindanao Command Commanding Maj. Gen. Benjamin Dolorfino “for bringing peace in the province of Tawi Tawi and so with the peacekeeping efforts of the Philippine National Police.”

The President was accompanied by Public Works and Highways Secretary Victor Domingo and Press Secretary Crispulo Icban Jr. They were welcomed at the Sanga Sanga airport in Bongao, Tawi Tawi by Gov. Sadikul Sahali and Jaafar.

Simunul is a 6th class municipality and one of 11 island towns of Tawi Tawi. Its current provincial road is hardly conducive to travel as it is very narrow and mostly dirt road. But with the conversion of the provincial road into a national road, the Department of Public Works and Highways will now proceed to accelerate work on the 19.4 kilometer stretch.

Aside from President Arroyo, the only other national leader who visited Simunul was the late President Marcos, when he was still senate president, according to Simunul Mayor Benzar N. Tambut, leader of the 38,239 residents of this island town that thrives on fishery, seaweed harvests, copra and other agricultural commodities.

The circumferential road project, under RA 4659, has a budget of P75 million and will be undertaken in 180 days.

The project will help farmers transport their agricultural products to the market and the fisher folk to move their catch directly to the market at a faster pace. It will also provide mobility and dynamic interaction among the residents and visitors, like tourists.

Simunul’s fishing grounds are the Bongao Bay and Sibutu Strait which thrive with tuna, grouper, flying fish, snappers, mullet, parrot fish, squids, octopus and lobster. (PNA) V3?OPS/utb

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