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MinDA envisions three Zamboanga Sibugay island towns as agri-aqua hub for Zamboanga Peninsula: A ‘game-changer’?

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The plan to develop Olutanga Island off the mainland of the province into an agri-aqua hub for Zamboanga Peninsula is a “game-changer for the islanders,” said Dr. EdreLuisa Calonge, mayor of Mabuhay town. (Paolo Antonio Manaytay photo)

IPIL, Philippines

Officials of Zamboanga Sibugay and Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) launched Tuesday, September 14 the development alliance of the three island municipalities, a move considered by some officials as a “game-changer” for towns that have been known for piracy, extortion, and kidnapping.

The plan to develop Olutanga Island off the mainland of the province into an agri-aqua hub for Zamboanga Peninsula is a “game-changer for the islanders,” said Dr. EdreLuisa Calonge, mayor of Mabuhay town, during the press conference. Mabuhay town along with Olutanga and Talusan are three towns that comprise the OLTAMA Development Alliance.

Calonge is also the vice chairperson of the alliance. Gov. Wilter Palma sits as the chairperson.

She said “creating the alliance was very helpful because it will give other profile picture for the media.”

Olutanga Island has been known for years as haven of sea pirates, extortionists, and kidnappers.

And the plan hatched by MinDA together with the provincial government and local government officials could change the image of the place, Calonge believes.

Talusan Mayor Orlando Ramiso believes so.

With the new development plan, said the mayor, the situation will change from a “lowly place, bad road network, peace and order problem into a developed island.”

But the road to development is long, said Joey Recimilla, MinDa director for planning and project development.

MinDA, the director said, has no funds. The agency’s work is to facilitate, assist, and link the new development alliance to funding agencies.

The hard work begins after the launching, he noted.

The Regional Development Council (RDC), according to Recimilla, will include the blueprint to develop the island into an agri-aqua hub after the Provincial Development Council (PDC) will approve it.

From the RDC, it will be included in the National Development Plan for funding, he explained.

Amid doubts if the new development alliance can finally change the game, Engr. Venancio Ferrer III, provincial planning and development officer, said the provincial government is committed to help the island municipalities get the plan going.

The Project Management Office (PMO) will provide the technical assistance to the alliance, he said. Ferrer heads the PMO.

In a virtual message, MinDA Secretary Emmanuel Pinol said the plan will finally give the island municipalities the break they need.

The plan will pave the way for the development of the three municipalities, he said.

Olutanga Island has a total land area of 194 square kilometres with a population of 87,000. (Paolo Antonio Manaytay)

Paolo Antonio Manaytay photo

In the photo, from left to right: Engr. Venancio Ferrer III, chief of the Provincial Planning and Development Office; Brig. Gen. Leonel Nicolas, commander of the Army’s 102nd Infantry Brigade; Joey Recimilla, MinDA director for planning and project development office; Vice Governor Rey Andrei Olegario; and a representative of Police Gen. Albert Larubis, Provincial Police Office chief.

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