The Duterte administration, with the help of business leaders, is ready to pour in much-needed funding to alleviate the poverty situation in the province of Sulu, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said on Wednesday.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol told reporters that some of the country’s biggest companies have already committed to invest in infrastructure, business and agriculture to beef up government programs in Sulu.
“The President ordered me to come up with a poverty alleviation program for Sulu to match the military component of our government’s efforts so we can achieve peace in the province,” Piñol said.
“We have the commitment of several groups, MVP [Manuel V. Pangilinan] is coming in with investments in telecommunications and power. Bounty Fresh will be coming in with poultry projects. Henry Lim and Lucio Tan will build classrooms, while Rosalyn Gui of W Group, Inc. will revive the carageenan industry in the province,” he added.
The “Save Sulu Project” was launched in line with the directive President Duterte issued in September after he met with former Sulu Governor Sakur Tan, who decried massive poverty as the prime reason behind the recruitment of Suluanos by extremist groups, including the Abu Sayyaf.
MVP is the chief executive of Hong Kong-listed First Pacific, the owner of the country’s largest digital service provider Philippine Long Distance Telephone as well as power distribution giant Manila Electric Co. (Meralco).
Lim, on the other hand, is the chairman of SL Agritech Corp., the country’s largest hybrid rice seeds producer, while Tan is the founder of LT Group Inc., which has interests in banking, airline, liquor, tobacco, real estate, and education.
The project proposal, which will be submitted to President Rodrigo R. Duterte on December 19, is designed to cut poverty incidence in the province by 25 percent in three years, Piñol said.
The Go-Negosyo group, led by Presidential Consultant on Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion, participated in crafting the poverty alleviation program.
The Sulu Archipelago is part of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and a known area of conflict in the region.
Piñol said there are also on-going talks between DA and the Ramon Ang-led San Miguel Corp. (SMC) for the development of feed processing facilities in the area.
“We are addressing the Sulu problem not only in the context of the fight against armed groups but also by alleviating poverty. So we came up with this project that will be launched in Malacañang on December 19 with the help of the Go Negosyo group,” Piñol said.