Government pooling big private investments for Sulu

The Mindanao Examiner Regional Newspaper - - Front Page - (Madelaine B. Miraflor, Manila Bulletin)

THE GOVERNMENT, through the Department of Agriculture (DA), is now pooling private investments for a poverty alleviating program in Sulu, so far securing the commitments of some of the country’s most powerful businessmen including Manuel V. Pangilinan, Ramon Ang, Lucio Tan, and Henry Lim.

Agriculture Chief Emmanual Piñol said the government was able to convince the likes of the aforementioned tycoons to invest in Sulu through a multi-billion project called “Save Sulu Project,” which was launched on December 19.

Sulu Archipelago is part of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and a known area of conflict in the region. “We were able to get commitments of several groups. MVP [Manuel V. Pangilinan] is coming in with investments in telecommunications and in 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,” Piñol said.

Pangilinan is the chief executive officer 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 the largest hybrid rice seeds producer in the country, SL Agritech Corp., while Tan is the founder of LT Group Inc., which has interests in banking, airline, liquor, tobacco, real estate industries and education.

Piñol said there is also on-going talks between DA and 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 against the armed groups but in also addressing the poverty. So we came up with this project with the help of the Go Negosyo group,” Piñol said.

“As for the part of DA, we will come in to help farmers plant corn because both Bounty Fresh and San Miguel will set up feed processing facilities,” he added.

As part of the launch, DA, in partnership with Go Negosyo, presented a much detailed masterplan of the project to President Rodrigo Duterte.

According to him, the entire venture will come into full swing by early next year and that the accumulative investment for it will run into billions.

As of now, the poverty incidence in sulu is 61 per- cent and the government is targeting to reduce this by 25 percent in the next three years.

Piñol said the “Save Sulu Project” was in line with the directive issued to him by Duterte last September after the Chief Executive met with former Sulu Gov. Sakur Tan, who decried massive poverty as prime reason behind the recruitment of Suluanos by extremist groups, including the Abu Sayyaf.

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