Duterte hands out P500-M aid to ARMM to improve ‘Moroland’

THE DEPARTMENT of Agriculture turned over P500 million aid to the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao during the visit of President Rodrigo R. Duterte last Saturday.

Aside from the ARMM, conflict-affected areas in Region 9, 10, and 12, also received assistance for farmers and fisherfolk in the region.

The distribution of aid was given during the launch of the Comprehensive Reform and Development Agenda (CRDA) in Cotabato City.

President Duterte said he wanted agencies such as the Department of Social Welfare and Development to immediately address hunger. “I want the incidence of hunger stopped,” Duterte said.

Duterte promised to pour more development programs in the poverty stricken regions. “Just give me time, I will improve the Moro land.” Duterte said.

Atty. Bai Ranibai Dilangalen, Department of Agriculture (DA) undersecretary for special concerns, said the assistance would be a big step forward in contributing to the improvement of agricultural production, and ease poverty incidence within residents in the target regions.

“Admittedly, many of our poor countrymen are from the agriculture sector – the farmers and fisherfolks,” Dilangalen said.

Dilangalen said the DA and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) assistance was pegged at approximately P306 million, adding to the funds of regular programs of the two agencies.

“We hope our programs would help address poverty problem in these areas,” Dilangalen added.

Sec. Alexander Alonto, ARMM’s Department Agriculture and Fisheries secretary, said the assistance would augment the gaps of the regular programs being implemented in the region.

“These will uplift the volume of agricultural production we have in the ARMM, and would alleviate poverty of farmers and fisherfolks at the same time,” Alonto said.

The assistance from the DA and BFAR include farm equipment, post-harvest facilities, machineries, farm and agri-aquatic inputs such as rice certified seeds, corn seeds, banca, fishing paraphernalia, among others.

A new project of the DA, Special Area for Agricultural Development (SAAD), will allow the DA to look at the weak points of each identified poor province as priority areas, and determine its key potentials in food production and agricultural livelihood programs.

In the ARMM, Maguindanao was chosen and received P50 million assistance received by Governor Toto Mangudadatu. The provinces of Sarangani and North Cotabato also received P50 million each for the same project.

USec. Dilangalen noted that additional P100 million for the three provinces will be allocated for the same project in 2017, and more provinces will be included in the project.

Another P192 million worth of agri-assistance was also launched under the socio-economic development component of the Normalization Fund. For the ARMM alone, approximately P144 million was allotted for this year, and the remaining P48 million was allocated for the other three regions.

For his part, Sec. Alonto said the continuing efforts of the ARMM government and the anti-poverty programs of Duterte administration will uplift the lives of poor families who are mostly living in impoverished communities.

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