Chiefs of the various offices of the provincial government buckled down to work today in preparation for the implementation of the incoming administration’s Vision: Cotabato 100.
The priority targets identified in Vision: Cotabato 100 will be translated into specific programs and activities by the various offices in a two-day planning workshop which started this morning at the Grand Ficus Plaza Resort Hotel in Kidapawan City.
In his opening message, Governor-Elect Jesus N. Sacdalan urged all participants to work together to ensure that Vision: Cotabato 100 becomes a reality for the people of North Cotabato.,
“Let us join hands. We need to work together to achieve our goals for the province and its people,” Governor-Elect Sacdalan said.
“This is not only my dream. This is not only my vision. This is the dream and the vision of the people of North Cotabato. That is why they supported us and our platform of government,” he emphasized.
Governor-Elect Sacdalan, who is the incumbent Vice Governor, also said that while a period of 6 years has been set to fully accomplish the goals of Vision: Cotabato 100, he wants to finish what he can within the three years of his governorship.
My beloved people of the province of North Cotabato:
Today, I greet you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year with mixed emotions.
I am sad because this will be my last Christmas and New Year with you as your Governor. But at the same time, I feel happy because the last nine years of my life have been the most meaningful years for me as a person and as a leader.
My first Christmas and New Year with you was in 1998 when we were trying to recover from the effects of the El Nino which ravaged our province and left thousands hungry and desperate.
My wish that Christmas and New Year was for God to give me a clear mind to be able to think of solutions to improve the lives of my people, lift them out of poverty and assure them of a better future.
The challenges then were daunting: We were identified as one of the 10 poorest provinces in the whole Philippines, our people in the remote areas lived in fear as armed groups attacked our villages with impunity, kidnappers operated even in the capital city of Kidapawan and very few jobs were available because investors were afraid to come to North Cotabato.
We persevered, we hoped and we prayed. Every time Christmas and New Year came, we all wished for a better North Cotabato.
Today, nine Christmases later, we can look back to where we started and proudly say that our prayers have been answered.
Kidnapping has been totally stopped, our people in the hinterlands no longer live in fear, investors have provided thousands of jobs for our people and most of all we have been identified as one of the 30 most progressive provinces in the whole Philippines.
The program that we have implemented- from the building of roads and bridges providing electricity to remote barangays, providing our people with jobs – are just too many to be counted with the fingers.
While we can proudly say that we have done a lot for our people, the mission of improving their lives and giving them a better future must continue. As we embrace the Year 2007 we will witness the start of two very important programs which are aimed at helping the poorest of the poor.
This January, poor families in our province will be registered under the Cotabato Health Insurance Program to provide them with free hospitalization with a very low payment of 100 a year. When fully implemented, this program will liberate our poor people from bondage of political patronage and give them the dignity as human beings.
We are now also in the process of finalizing the mechanics for the implementation of the Poor Man’s Emancipation Program where poor landless families will be given an opportunity to lay claim to at least 2 hectares of land where he could plant rubber or other high value crops.
Perhaps, more than anything else, these two programs are the most important Christmas gifts that I can give you my people.
And so today, as I greet you Merry Christmas and Happy New Year for the last time as your Governor, let me urge you my people to continue working and praying for a better life for a better North Cotabato.
Where ever I will go, I will always remember the last nine years as your Governor as the happiest moment in my life because I was able to give you hope, made you smile and touched your lives. I will always love you my people and I will always pray and work for a better life for you.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Department of Agriculture high value commercial crops coordinator Dr. Rodel Maghirang has assured newly graduated rubber specialists from 12 provinces all over the country of the DA’s support in their efforts to propagate rubber in their areas.
“Depending on the proposed program that you will forward to our office, we can provide financial assistance of up to P100 thousand per hectare,” Dr. Maghirang told graduates of the first ever national rubber technology training at the University of Southern Mindanao in Kabacan, North Cotabato.
Dr. Maghirang was guest at the simple graduation rites of the 41 trainees from Isabela, Benguet,Mindoro Occidental, Palawan, Antique, Negros Occidental, Zamboang Sibugay, Bukidnon, Saranggani, South Cotabato and Maguindanao this morning.
“We are first encouraging the local government units to set up rubber budwood gardens, and then establish nurseries and plantations later. The initial request is for a funding of P5 million for each of the 10 proposed pilot provinces for the national rubber program, but funding requirements will of course depend on your proposals,” Dr. Maghirang said.
Dr. Maghirang said that starting Monday, they will begin drafting the details of the national rubber program based on the proposal of North Cotabato Governor Manny Piñol who has staunchly advocated for the adoption of a refocused national agricultural development program based on high value crops with proven markets, particularly rubber.
“Our target for this year is to be able to develop an additional 15 thousand hectares to rubber in the country, and with each participating LGU contributing its share to the target, we could very well achieve it.”
Dr. Maghirang lauded the efforts of Gov. Piñol and the provincial government of North Cotabato in organizing the rubber technology training with financial support from the DA, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), and the National Agribusiness Corporation (NABCOR).
“Maganda itong nagyayari, pero hindi dito nagtatapos. We will talk to the regions after this to come up with follow up programs so that these efforts could be sustained,” he said.
The national rubber program is set to be launched by DA Secretary Domingo Panganiban later this month during the weeklong 92nd foundation anniversary celebration of North Cotabato.
Some 41 agricultural officers, environment officers, nursery operators from various provinces today graduated as rubber specialists from a month-long rubber technology training at the University of Southern Mindanao in Kabacan, North Cotabato.
Also among the graduates were representatives from the Department of Agriculture Region II, IX, XII and ARMM, as well as soldiers from the 602nd Brigade based in Carmen, North Cotabato.
The training organized by the provincial government of North Cotabato and jointly supported by the Department of Agriculture, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Agrarian Reform, and National Agribusiness Corporation is part of the national rubber program which Gov. Manny F. Piñol has asked the national government to adopt.
“For a very long time, we have neglected the potential of the countryside, failed to focus on the more globally marketable high value crops like rubber, resulting in the pathetic condition of the people in the countryside,” Gov. Piñol said in his message to the graduates.
“Our experience in North Cotabato has proven that a refocused agricultural development program based on marketable high value crops is a very potent tool to combat poverty. From the 5th poorest in 1998, our province is now ranked 29th among the more progressive in the country according to the NSCB. ”
“We want to share this with the other provinces because our success would be meaningless if our other countrymen remain poor and hopeless,” he added.
Governor Piñol said rubber could well be the vehicle that will propel the country forward economically.
“A million hectares planted to rubber in the country would mean 500 thousand new jobs in the rubber plantations alone. If we add those who are needed to produce rubber farm implements like tapping knives, rings, etc., the count could easily run to 1.5 million jobs. Filipinos would no longer need to suffer the indignation of working abroad as domestic helpers,” he said.
“What we are all doing is a historic step to provide hope for our people,” the governor added.
The training participants which came from Isabela, Benguet,Mindoro Occidental, Palawan, Antique, Negros Occidental, Zamboang Sibugay, Bukidnon, Saranggani, South Cotabato and Maguindanao, were given lessons in nursery establishment, plantation establishment, soil suitability, operational requirements, processing and manufacturing among others.
“It’s practically a 1-year rubber technology course compressed into 1 month,’ said North Cotabato provincial agriculturist Antonio Balagot.
The participants were also taught how to prepare feasibility studies and project proposals for establishment of nurseries, plantations, and rubber processing or manufacturing projects for presentation to their respective LGUs and agencies for funding.
Gov. Piñol has proposed that the new rubber specialists be sent to Kuala Lumpur in November for an educational trip to the Malaysian Rubber Board’s research and development facility there.
“We will request the DA to sponsor the trip, but the LGUs should of course have a counterpart,” he said.
The North Cotabato Braves has a new coach.
With former SMB All Stars assistant coach Jose Nicolas Pacheco, the Braves hope to improve their performance in the next conference of the National Basketball Conference this August and barge into the finals.
Pacheco, a native of Makilala town in North Cotabato and who played for the Letran Knights, replaces former Braves playing coach Boboy Tanigue.
Tanigue will now don the North Cotabato Braves jersey as point guard.
“We believe that this will be a much better set up and improve our chances to get into the finals of the next NBC Conference,” Provincial Adminstrator and team manager Jun Piñol said.
The Braves are expected to go up against Valencia Golden Harvest in their first outing for this conference.
The North Cotabato cagers recorded a 6-5 win-loss slate in their NBC debut.
Volunteer teachers under the Magtutudlo Sa Barangay (MSB) program of the provincial government of North Cotabato are set to receive additional honorarium after the Sangguniang Panlalawigan approved Governor Manny F. Piñol’s request for P2 million to effectively increase their monthly allowance to P3,000.
The more than two hundred volunteer teachers assigned in different school in barangays all over the province will get an additional P1,500 each for the months of August to December this year.
The MSB volunteers are already receiving P1,500 monthly.
“We know that this is not much, but it shows our sincere appreciation of the service provided by our Magtutudlo Sa Barangay to the children of North Cotabato,” Gov. Piñol said.
“They are our hardworking partners in our effort to ensure that no child in this province is deprived of education,” he added.
The MSB program, a brainchild of the governor, was started in 2002 in response to the lack of teachers in far-flung barangays of North Cotabato. Under the program qualified community-based volunteer teachers are tapped to supplement the regular personnel of the Department of Education in barangay schools where there is a lack of teachers.
More farmers will be able to avail of rubber and oil palm seedlings under the plant-now-pay-later program of the provincial government of North Cotabato following the appropriation of an additional P10 million for its high value crops program.
The Sangguniang Panlalawigan under Vice-Governor Jesus N. Sacdalan approved the additional appropriation of P4 million for rubber and P6 million for oil palm in a special session June 29 at the Sangguniang Panlalawigan session hall.
“This will enable us to extend agricultural assistance through the PNPL to more farmers who would like to go into rubber and oil palm farming,” Governor Manny F. Piñol said.
“Among our target beneficiaries are the Certificate of Ancestral Domain Claim (CADC) areas and interested Muslim communities of the province,” he added.
On Wednesday, June 19, Governor Piñol visited Barangay Bolod in Pikit to personally attend a consultation-forum on oil palm farming.
Some 10 hectares of land in the former conflict area have already been planted to oil palm with Barangay Captain Edris Modale leading the recipients of seedlings under the PNPL scheme.
In Arakan, 2 CADC areas in Tumanding and Lanao Kuran have been identified by the Manobo Lumadnong Panaghiusa sa Arakan (MALUPA) under Supreme Tribal Datu Veloso Suhat as pilot areas for rubber farming.
“The CADC beneficiaries happily welcome this program of the provincial government because they know that rubber farming can improve their income and will give them the opportunity for a better future,” Suhat said.
Consultations on the program were started yesterday through the Cotabato Province Investment and Promotion Center (CPIPC) in the presence of National Commission on Indigenous People legal-designate Florie Rapista.