Duterte, business leaders band together to help Sulu
VARIOUS BUSINESS GROUPS, including some of the country’s big corporations have pledged economic support and aid to Sulu in an effort to help the Duterte administration bring peace and development projects to the province. Dubbed as “Negosyo Para sa Kapayapaan sa Sulu: Christmas Townhall with the President - the project was launched recently after former Sulu Governor Datu Shah Bandar Dr. Sakur Tan sought President Rodrigo Duterte’s help in August – through the assistance of Sec. Joey Concepcion, the Presidential Consultant for Entrepreneurship and also the President and CEO of RFM Corporation and founder of Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship-go Negosyo; and Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol, and other stakeholders.
Duterte invited business people in Malacañang during the launching of the “Save Sulu Project” and among those who committed to help Sulu were PLDT Chairman Manuel Pangilinan, who pledged to rehabilitate and put up more Smart Telecommunication cell sites, build at least 40 houses in the next 2 years, provide water and power to communities and donate hospital equipment and train doctors and grant scholarships.
San Miguel Corporation, which pledged to build a 15-megawatt coalfired power plant, a feed mill supply chain and to help rebuild the Hajji Buto School of Arts and Trade.
The National Book Store also committed to provide school supplies for at least 100,000 students, and the other donors were Bounty Fresh Food, Inc. which will open up poultry contract growing to farmers; W. Group, which pledged to buy seaweeds from local fishermen and farmers; Gawad Kalinga founder Tony Meloto, who vowed to build at least 100 houses; taipan Lucio Tan and his son, Michael, who both committed to resume air transportation from Zamboanga City to Sulu.
And SM'S Tessie Sycoson, Rosalind Wee, of the Marine Resources Development Corporation – the country’s biggest producer of carrageenan; the KAPATID Agri Group which will help train farmers; and Rep. Arthur Yap and the Federation of Filipino-chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Inc., which will also put up classrooms; Quintin Pastrana, who pledged to put up libraries and literacy programs in Gawad Kalinga villages.
And also Ginggay Hontiveros, managing director and producerowner of The Extra MILE Productions, and her company’s partner Gabriel Malvar, who played a key role in getting together the stakeholders.
Piñol said the agency will provide tractors, farm implements and agricultural training.
Sec. Ramon Lopez, of the Department of Trade and Industry, said SM, Robinsons, Double Dragon, Rustan's and even Puregold would partner with Sulu fishermen and farmers by allocating a specific space in their malls for free.
He said some P1 billion from the Office of the President's budget will be made available for small entrepreneurs, and another P50 million for Sulu farmers. “For the Sulu projects, we are happy to allocate P50 million for the Sulu farmers and all our projects that we will do for Sulu to jumpstart the economy in Sulu and if we do well, we can do another P50 million for that area,” he said.
For his part, Duterte said he wants to leave it to the economic managers to create the environment where businesses can thrive peacefully with the least intervention of government. “I hope, I said that before the year ends, something concrete and positive will come out. And ito ang gusto kong sabihin sa bayan - you have to heed us people, guys from Mindanao because we are telling you the truth, you have to really transform this country,” he said during the event.
Duterte also renewed his initiative with business leaders to push for federalism in the country. “The fact that the Muslims are willing to go federal means that they will accept control of the national government,” he said.
Emotional Tan, in his emotional speech, thanked Duterte and all those behind the event and said he and people are grateful for the support of the business leaders and government efforts in bringing peace and development to Sulu.
Below is the speech of Tan:
“Mr. President, thank you very much for this affair this evening. This is a product of your genius. Remember one time I took a chance to see the President in Zamboanga, that was in August, and when I started talking to him, the president told me - we cannot talk above that for a very short time, not except dinner one of these days. Let me see, he said, if we can schedule this after I get back. Which he went to Vietnam then came back, in, that was early September. I really never thought, considering the business of the President, he would still remember that he
would meet us over dinner. Only to get the message from Secretary Bongbong Go that we have a scheduled dinner with the President on the 15th of September at the Bahay Pagbabago. We even asked the waiters, who among the visitors of the President ever ate or had dinner in this hall?" and we were told, you are the first, and maybe you are the only one. Thank you Mr. President.”
“We talked to the President. I was with my son, (Sulu Gov. Totoh Tan) together with my sister, (Dr. Farah Omar), the head of the hospitals, some mayors, of course, the President was with the Secretary, and we told the President about the war in the South which started way back in the early 70's. And we are still fighting the same war, it brings back to mind, or it rings to my mind, a book that was given to me by President (Fidel) Ramos, entitled "Fighting terrorism by fighting poverty poverty is indeed very high in our province and in fact it is one of the highest in ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) and in our country. The waiting is in every 3 years, from 2009 to 2012; we were above 31% in terms of poverty incidence. From 2012 to 2015, it went up to 67%. This is way, way above the national average of 21%.”
“So what constitutes poverty, we told the President, is that we need education for our people. Even the criminals like to see their children go to school. Even the criminals would like to see their children have medical attention. To have livelihoods, to have homes. To have roofs over their heads. To have food on their tables. So, we have been saying, that war alone can never solve this problem. We need to address this incidence of poverty in our area. We are now one of the highest; we are now next to Lanao del Sur in ARMM in terms of poverty incidence. Now, I really never thought that this will happen today. This is a lot of focus on our province, the province of Sulu, which has always been known, misperceived as a war-torn area, as a kidnap capital of the country. I would like to say that it is not so.”
“Big businesses, actually some of them, started in Sulu. The Aboitiz operated a power plant in Sulu before becoming this big. I learned that even MVP, Boss Manny Pangilinan, started doing copra business in Siasi, Sulu. Mrs (Rosalind) Wee started her carrageenan business in Sulu. Sulu and Tawi-tawi are two of the biggest suppliers of carrageenan or seaweeds in the country. We used to be the one of the biggest, if not the biggest, supplier or carrageenan in the whole of Southeast Asia. Now, we believe that the government alone cannot solve this problem. The government can only do so much. The government can provide support infrastructures.”
“Again, before the elections in America, I read a book by Donald Trump and Robert Kiyosaki - The Midas Touch - which says that government can only provide so much. You want employment, you want labor, you want livelihood then you have to go to the captains of industry. You have to go to the entrepreneurs, and as I said this is what is happening now, and I hope you know, with just this gathering, putting all of these captains of industry together is something that would promote our province in terms of (natural) resources.”
“Sulu sea is the richest fishing ground throughout the world. We have the strongest fiber. Our abaca, is the strongest fiber in the world. We have so much in terms of agriculture produce. We have a lot of mangosteens except we cannot prolong the shelf life for our fruits. We have durians. Durians, are growing wild in our province, and our durians - Mr. President Sir, I think our durians are the best. And we hope, I'm sure, the President has tasted already our durians, except that they do not last long as long as the durians in Davao.”
“Now with this, I would like to say, thank you very much for all of these pledges and commitments of yours. For our hospitals, our power, our educational system, our water system and everything. I'm sure, this will mean a lot. This will be remembered forever and ever. Again Mr. President, natatandaan ko, bago kayo sumakay sa inyong chopper, ang sabi niyo sa akin, Alam mo Sakur, dapat ma-solve na natin ang problema na 'to, dahil ako lamang ang makaka-solve ng problema na 'to. Kapag hindi ko pa na-solve ang problema na 'to, wala nang makaka-solve nito. Ang sabi ko sa kanya bago umalis si Mr. President Sir, kapag hindi niyo pa masolve ang problema na ito, Diyos lamang ang makaka-solve lang nito. Maraming Salamat. Thank you very much to all of you.”
Tan was with his son, Totoh Tan, the incumbent governor of Sulu, and fifteen of the 19 mayors in the province, and other provincial government officials, among others invited to the historical event.
Philippines police chief Ronald dela Rosa leads ‘Paskuhan sa Crame,’ a get-together party with members of the national police force and their families in this photo released by the Philippine National Police.
Pictorials from the Christmas Townhall with President Rodrigo Duterte in Malacañang recently in these Go Negosyo photos.in the photos were President Rodrigo Duterte, former Sulu Governor Datu Shah Bandar Dr Sakur Tan, Secretaries Ramon Lopez and Manny Piñol, Ginggay Hontiveros, former President Gloria Arroyo, among others.