BULUAN, Maguindanao – An intensive bamboo-propagating segment of the government’s Sustainable Integrated Area Development (SIAD) project was launched in this province on Wednesday, with proponents and beneficiaries prospecting it to end crime-breeding poverty, abate flooding incidents, stimulate social cohesion, and further harness the country’s immense biodiversity potentials.
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Gina Paz Lopez and Governor Esmael “Toto” Mangudadato led the launching rites here and in nearby Pandag town, where the lady official dramatized initiatives to bring Moro revolutionaries and military contingents together as partners in the project implementation.
The project has an initial fund of P21 million to pilot bamboo propagation in Rajah Buayan town and supply seedlings for planting across a 1,000-hectare portion of the 280,000-hectare Liguasan Marsh, the largest Mindanao water basin Sec. Lopez claimed to be abundant of flora and fauna as basic elements of biodiversity.
The Philippines is known globally for having immense endemic flora and fauna, Lopez enthused as she estimated in her aerial view that the Liguasan delta contains some 51 percent biodiversity potentials. She and her party arrived here and left Wednesday by private choppers.
Local authorities said the delta, especially its heavily silted portions, spills over flood waters during rainy days to low-lying villages and towns in the neighboring Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat and North Cotabato provinces The trend makes flooding a common problem in the three provinces, especially Maguindanao, which literally means “land of flooded plains.”
Yet, they said, local leaders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), a few political partisan armed groups, and many village people maintain enclaves in the marsh because of its vast grounds for fishing, farming and other forms of livelihood.
In her keynote speech here, Sec. Lopez underscored the need for comprehensive government interventions such as the just-launched bamboo and mangrove planting to stimulate the Maguindanao people, notably the marsh dwellers, into productive cohesion necessary to end local enmities and alleviate high poverty rate in the province. “The basic foundation of economic growth is love…There can be no progress in an atmosphere of enmity,” she said.
After presenting in power-point documentaries some DENR-initiated projects that economically empowered hundreds of villagers elsewhere in the country, Sec. Lopez led participating representatives of the MILF, military, local govern units, women and youth groups, and NGOs in cohesive dynamics of handshakes, lively cheers, and singing of unity-building songs.
Sec. Lopez, Gov. Mangudadatu and Rajah Buayan town Mayor Zamzamin Ampatuan signed a covenant mandating a cohesive implementation of the SIAD project. The signing rite was witnessed by MILF truce committee chair Butch Malang, OPAPP Usec. Deosita Andot, DENR-ARMM Secretary Kahal Kedtag, the Army’s 601st Brigade commander, 20 other Maguindanao mayors, and heads of participating delegations.
“There will be no room for failure,” Mayor Ampatuan assured in his acceptance speech, citing the clear-cut dynamics of the bamboo planting and propagation project starting with a two-hectare nursery in his town.
Ampatuan confessed that amid the seven or so years of Maguindanao’s massive banana and oil palm farming, his town has reserved its force for the hosting a timely national initiative such as SIAD project to make his turf as the country’s “bamboo town.”
He shared Gov. Mangudadatu’s previous remarks that while bamboo planting is another tool for ecological balance abating floods and soil erosions, it can also provide additional livelihood to Maguindanaons through the production of bamboo-based toothpicks, chop sticks for millions of mostly Chinese users, and construction materials.
Ampatuan tickled local journalists when he announced that some of the more than 300 surrendered and reformed illegal drug users in his town will be tapped in the bamboo seedling production to “make them better citizens.”He also cited the project’s significance to Moro culture, citing a history during the Spanish occupation about the raising of a traditional flag in Lanao del Sur through a tall bamboo pole.
From here, Sec. Lopez alongside local officials led by Gov. Mangudadato proceeded to Pandag town and planted water-resistant tree species on a soil dike along the Buluan River, one of the tributaries of the Liguasan Marsh. Host Pandag Mayor Jehan Mangudadatu warmly received the visitors, even as she hailed Sec. Lopez as the “first national dignitary” to have set foot in her town on a “very meaningful occasion.”
Reference & Credits by By Ali G. Macabalang (https://www.facebook.com/agm4458/posts/10212334328098584)