Tawi-tawi gets chunk of ARMM projects
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Governor Hataman also inaugurated a new access road, which is part of an P80-million infrastructure package, in Tubig-indangan. The road leads to the Sheikh Karimul Makhdum Mosque, a national historical and tourism site. Included in the project’s P80-million budget is the improvement of Sheikh Karimul Makdum Mosque and the Sheikh Makdum Cultural Center. The project aims at preserving and promoting the cultural and historical significance of the site.
The Sheikh Karimul Makhdum Mosque, the oldest in the Philippines, is a national historical landmark and is recognized as a National Cultural Treasure by the country’s National Museum. Sheikh Karimul Makhdum is an Islamic preacher from Malaysia who arrived in Tawi-tawi in 1380. From then on, Islam became the faith of the Moro people and has been dominant in the Bangsamoro life and culture, setting the Moros’ identity apart from the rest of the country.
Through the ARMM’S regional legislative assembly, a management board was created to manage, preserve and promote the Makhdum mosque, as one of Bangsamoro’s historical landmarks. However, the mosque is currently closed to visitors due to an ongoing restoration and rehabilitation.
Aside from the regional government’s tourism development projects in Simunul, it has also implemented roughly P321-million worth of projects in the town since 2012. Among these are the construction of bridges, seaports, flood control and water system.
A total of 12 road projects in Simunul worth P191.5 million are being implemented with 64.42% physical accomplishment so far. These projects are part of the ARMM Department of Public Works and Highways’ regular infrastructure program.
Governor Hataman said ARMM also spent about P56 million for the construction of an access road and for the development of Bongao Peak, or Bud Bongao, the first ecotourism park developed by the regional government.
The project was implemented through a memorandum of agreement between the regional government and the municipal government of Bongao. Development of the eco-tourism park, aimed at the preservation and conservation of the area, is one of the priority projects of the Hataman administration.
Aside from the access road, the project also includes the construction of a tourist center where visitors can register and receive orientation before climbing the peak, concreting of about 750 steps, installation of railings for support and protection, and construction of resting sheds. Bongao Peak is one of the 12 key biodiversity sites in the country protected under the Department of Natural Resources’ New Conservation Areas in the Philippines Project.
Around 1,500 tourists visit the peak every week. A P20 fee to be used for the maintenance of the nature park is collected from each climber. To increase visitor and tourist arrivals in the town, Mayor ue said the local government will sustain and maintain Bud Bongao and will also conduct activities and projects that will further promote tourism in the municipality. Last year, the region’s Tourism department recorded around one million tourist arrivals in Tawitawi.
A water supply system or communal faucet unit now serves the residents of Tubig-indangan and Doh Tong, according to Governor Hataman. “Patuloy pa nating tutugunan ang pangangailangan ng mga taga-simunul. Sisiguraduhin nating malaki ang tulong na maidudulot nito,” he said.
The construction of the water system is supported by the region’s 2016 infrastructure budget and is one of 23 total water supply system projects in Tawi-tawi programmed from 2012 to 2017 under the DPWHARMM.
Secretary Loong said some P4.49 billion has been earmarked for infrastructure projects for the province of Tawi-tawi since 2012. These, he pointed out, range from roads, bridges, seaports, flood control, water system, drainage and other high-impact projects. For Simunul alone, P321.5 million has been allocated with the bulk of P150 million provided in 2016 for seven projects. Most of the projects are currently over 81% completed.
“Walang iniiwan ang ARMM government sa pagunlad, kahit tayong islang munisipyo na nasa dulo na ng ating bansa,” Mayor Abdurahman said.
A total of 12 road projects in Simunul worth P191.5 million are also being implemented with 64.42% physical accomplishment so far. These projects are part of the DPWH-ARMM’S regular infrastructure program.
Albah Kadil Tuminnah, 57, a resident of Tubigindangan, said the projects make them feel important because these would directly benefit the community. “Magpapasalamat talaga tayo. Patuloy ang proyekto, patuloy ang tulong sa aming lahat,” Tuminnah said.
Simunul is an island town composed of 15 barangays, three of which are located on a smaller island of Munuk Mangkaw. Based on the 2015 census, the town has a population of about 31,000 people, mostly of Sama tribe. It is a 4th-class municipality, or having an annual income from P25 million but not over P35 billion. The local government’s welcome arc at the town’s seaport shows its support to several development projects of the regional government.