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PBBM: Basilan now zone of peace; food, fisheries production hub soon

MANILA: President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Saturday expressed elation over the sucessful peace initiatives in Basilan and pledged to harness the province’s potentials by making it a food and fisheries production center.

While Marcos welcomed the progress of peace efforts in Basilan, he said ‘the war against hunger’ is the current challenge that needs to be addressed.

‘A province that was once tainted by violence and terrorism is now a zone of peace, made possible not by military might alone but more so by a people saying no to violence,’ Marcos said during the ‘Panabang si Kasanyangan’ peace offering ceremony in Sumisip town.

‘Ang kailangan lang ay tulungan ang Basilan para maging isang lubos na food and fisheries production center. Kasama niyo ang pambansang pamahalaan sa bagong hamon na hinaharap ninyo na ito (All that is needed is to help Basilan become a full-fledged food and fisheries production center. The national government is with you in this new challenge that you are facing),’ he added.

s noted that Basilan has a land area twice the size of Singapore and is blessed for its rich soil and being nearly typhoon-free, making the province ‘an ideal bulwark in our fight for food security.”

He said taking advantage of Basilan’s rich resources and talented people is the ‘key to enduring peace’ that is based on common progress and shared prosperity.

‘This makes Basilan no longer an island far south, but a very strategic island in the front and center of our national goals and our transformation. Your future and fate are therefore intertwined with the nation’s,’ Marcos said.

Marcos stressed that once Basilan’s agri-fisheries potentials are unlocked, the whole country will benefit.

‘Please be assured that we will play our role as partner of Basilan’s great leap forward. May the hope we feel today sustain what we have already achieved in Basilan, and power us towards a Bagong Pilipinas (New Philippines),’ he said.

Basilan is home to rubber plantations, with major cooperatives and thousands of farmer
s and small plantations assuming a key role in rubber production.

Copra and rice are also the province’s banner products, which are the farmers’ main source of income.

Destruction of illegal firearms

Marcos also witnessed the symbolic destruction of 400 illegal firearms surrendered by former rebels amid current peace efforts.

He led the distribution of eight motorcycles donated by the United Nations (UN) Development Programme to former rebels to support their livelihood.

He attributed the success of peace-making initiatives in the province to the provincial government, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity (OPAPRU), the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine National Police, the community and religious leaders, and volunteers.

Marcos also thanked the country’s international partners and allies, particularly the UN, the European Union, and the Japanese and Australian governments for their unending support to the pursuit of a just and amicable peace.

‘Peace is
more than the cessation of hostilities. It is about the creation of a social order that values human dignity, improves lives, and promotes progress. Peace is totally achieved not when the sound of gunfire has ended. It is when the clamor for better lives has been met. This is the kind of peace that we see that dawned here in Basilan,’ he said.

‘This is the kind of peace that draws strength from the free will of the people instead of commanding their allegiance by force. Basilan has arrived at this junction of its proud history because it refused to continue to be a place of violence,’ Marcos added.