• P1-B loan for Maguindanao projects sought

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    COTABATO CITY: Maguindanao is seeking a P1-billion omnibus loan to bankroll ventures ranging from settling remnants of debt inherited from past leaders and bankrolling initiatives against high illiteracy rate to cohesive anti-flood efforts in the province.

    Gov. Esmael “Toto” Mangu-dadatu told reporters last week the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) was poised to pass this month a resolution authorizing the executive department’s acquisition of the loan from the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP).

    He said that the loan would enable them to purchase a modern machine to dredge heavily silted rivers that often cause floods during rainy days, put up an oil palm processing plant, augment local scholarships, and pay up lingering provincial debts, among others.

    Maguindanao suffers from frequent heavy floods, and combating the menace would require a machine worth at least P100 million to dredge local water basins and rivers, he said.

    Extracted sediments can be piled up on riverbanks to be planted with bamboos and perennial grasses to hold soil erosion and floodwater, while the rest could fill up low-lying areas for planting with high value varieties like banana, oil palm and rubber trees, Mangudadatu said, citing the high fertility elements of river and swamp silts.

    A big portion of the loan estimated at P300 million will be used to amplify the provincial government’s scholarship program currently subsidizing over 2,000 “poor but highly potential” high school and college students, the governor said.

    Mangudadatu said some provincial technocrats and elected officials visited Albay lately and studied the province’s success in subsidizing one student from each resident household, a program credited for the emergence of “very high” literacy rate in the Bicolano community.

    “Believing that education is best tool for development in all dimensions, we eye at least one member of each family in Maguindanao to possess pens and finish college under our program, instead of joining the rebel movements to wield guns and perpetuate atrocities,” Mangudadatu said.

    Some P200 million of the loan will bankroll the opening of a processing plant for products from growing number of oil palm plantations, said Mangudadato, who earlier launched cohesive efforts to make his province the country’s “hub of halal goods.”

    “We wish to replicate the evolution of robust economy in Malaysia that stemmed from massive planting of rubber and oil palm trees,” he said.

    Another part of the loan would be used to pay up some P500-million debts with spiraling interests the present administration inherited from the past, according to Mangudadatu.

    He said that his adminis-tration’s first three-year term had gradually brought the down debts to little over P50 million, and wanted to pay up the remnant at one time to concentrate on progressive initiatives.

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