Rizal Hall, Malacañan Palace
December 19, 2016

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte led the Christmas town hall gathering of ‘Negosyo Para sa Kapayapaan sa Sulu’ project that aims to bring peace and socio-economic development to the communities in Sulu through livelihood programs, mentorships, infrastructure, and facilities. The town hall event was held at the Rizal Hall of Malacañan Palace.

During his speech, President Duterte narrated that he took notice of the least attention given to Mindanao by some politicians. This realization prompted him to join the Presidential race.

“Nobody was talking about Mindanao. The serious problem actually is Mindanao because if we do not handle it very carefully, this country will end up dismembered,” he said.

The Chief Executive spelled out the importance of a federal set up of government to the Moro people. According to him, there is no equal devolution of wealth in a unitary type of management despite the fact that 54% of the country’s total export earnings come from Mindanao.

“Let them enjoy the resources of their land… Make the Moro happy,” President Duterte added.

During the event, several entrepreneurs and business leaders expressed their pledges and commitments for the project. Philippine Long Distance Telephone (PLDT), Inc. Chairman Manuel ‘Manny’ Pangilinan committed to upgrade the cell sites in Sulu, build houses, provide medical equipment and relevant trainings to medical practitioners, grant scholarships on medical degrees to residents of Sulu, among others. Agriculture (DA) Secretary Emmanuel Piñol talked on the 50 megawatt coal-fired power plant of San Miguel Corp. headed by its President Ramon Ang, and his plan to rebuild the Hadji Butu School of Arts and Trades. For their part, Lucio Tan and Michael Tan commenced a study on the possible resumption of commercial flights in Sulu. Likewise, more members from the business community and different chambers have their own vows of assistance.

“What you see here are the business sectors that are ready to help the country, ready to help your administration in really helping the country achieve tremendous growth, beating poverty, in such a way that we are on a verge of a breakthrough,” Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez said.

DA Secretary Piñol narrated how the project started. According to him, Special Assistant to the President Christopher ‘Bong’ Go called him on September 19, 2016 when he was in Borongan, Eastern Samar to say that President Duterte wanted him to look at the situation in Sulu. After visiting and seeing the condition and needs of the people, he coordinated with DTI Secretary Lopez who, in turn, involved the private sector to start the ‘Negosyo Para sa Kapayapaan sa Sulu’ that was initially named as ‘Adopt a Village’ program.

“President Duterte has always told me in the past that arms alone will not win this war. There has got to be something else. And we both agreed that alongside the campaign against terrorism, against armed groups, there should be the soft hand that would provide comfort to people in distress,” Secretary Piñol said.

“I know your province is challenged. Don’t give up and we are all behind you,” Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Jose Ma. ‘Joey’ Concepcion III said to the people of Sulu.

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