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President Duterte Distributes P10-Million Worth of Farming Equipment, Fishing Boats To Farmers and Fishermen in Basilan

By Manny Piñol
Lamitan City, Basilan - President Rody Duterte yesterday marked the first 100 Days of the Agriculture sector under his leadership by handing out over P100-M worth of farming equipment and machineries and fiberglass fishing boats to poor farmers and fishermen of Basilan Province.

The equipment, including cassava granulators and corn mills, tractors, corn and rice seeds, fertilisers, seaweed farming tools, and fiberglass fishing boats awarded to farmers and fishermen in Basilan yesterday brought to an estimated P1-B the amount of interventions by the Duterte Presidency to address food production and poverty alleviation in the countryside.

Tears fell, laughter filled the air and loud applause marked the occasion as the marginalised sea gypsies Badjaos received the first 70 units of the 1,000 fiberglass fishing boats complete with engine, fishing nets and hook and line.

The President also turned over to farmers' groups the first seven of 10 units of 4-wheel drive tractors to be used in corn and cassava farming especially in areas where coconut trees are dying because of the Cocolisap infestation.

In his message to the farmers and fisher folks of Basilan Province, President Duterte promised to give more aid to areas affected by the war between government and several armed groups in the Southern Philippines.

Arriving by helicopter for the dialogue with farmers and fisher folks at the Lamitan Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Cooperative (LARBECO) compound in Lamitan City, the President called on the people of Basilan to end the fighting in the province.

"If you have issues against government, do not get angry right away. Call me or course your complaints through my people and we will settle the problem," he told the people of Basilan.

"Let us stop the fighting here so I could focus on giving the country more programs to develop our economy. I am just asking for six conflict-free years so that we will be able to move forward," he said.

Duterte told the farmers and fisher folks that there are many opportunities in the agriculture and fisheries sectors now, especially so because the diplomatic row with China has eased up.

"China is opening up its market to our products and I visit China next week," he said.

During a dialogue I presided over before the arrival of the President at about 2:30 in the afternoon, requests for the construction of farm to market roads were approved while additional livelihood programs were committed to residents of areas whose communities were affected by the fighting between government forces and the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf.

"Nagulat ang mga tao. Hindi sila makapaniwala na ganoon pala kabilis magdesisyon ang mga tao ni President Duterte at nagdeliver kaagad," Basilan Gov. Jim Hataman Saliman said.

The Basilan visit of President Duterte was a result of the problem of the Cocolisap infestation in the island-province's coconut industry which destroyed over 3 million trees as of today.

On Sept. 12, on orders of President Duterte, I travelled to Basilan to conduct a consultation and determine what interventions could be provided to the farmers and fisher folks of the province who were affected by the Cocolisap infestation.

During the first visit, I promised Gov. Saliman that I would be back after one month to deliver the commitments.

The "return" happened 28 days after the promise was made and it was President Duterte himself who delivered the commitments.[source]

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