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PBBM envisions Basilan’s new role at forefront of food security for PH

SUMISIP, Basilan (PIA) – After winning the peace, “Basilan’s new role now is against hunger”, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. declared during his recent visit at Mahatallang in the province.

In his visit to the picturesque province of Basilan on March 2, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr celebrated the remarkable transformation of what was once a ground zero for conflict into an epicenter of peace. Standing amidst the resilient people of Basilan, the president acknowledged the triumph of the community in rejecting violence and terrorism, emphasizing that true peace extends beyond the mere cessation of hostilities.

PBBM delivers his message to the people of Basilan at Mahatallang, Sumisip in Basilan

“I am very happy to be here in your beautiful, bountiful and breathtaking Basilan. Our presence in today’s event reaffirms the truth that what was once a ground zero of war is now turned into an epicenter of peace. A promise that was once tainted by violence and terrorism is now a zone of peace made possible, not by military might, but by the people saying no to violence,” the President said.

Looking forward, President Marcos Jr. outlined Basilan's potential role in the country's pursuit of food security. The province, endowed with abundant resources and resilient people, has the opportunity to become a food and fisheries production center. With government support, Basilan can contribute significantly to the national goal of ensuring food security, making it a strategic island at the forefront of the nation's vision.

“You have a land area that is twice the size of Singapore, blessed with the rich soil. Above all, more or less typhoon-free, which makes you an ideal bulwark in our fight for food security,” he declared.

President Marcos Jr defined his vision of peace as a holistic societal order that prioritizes human dignity, improves lives, and fosters progress. It is not merely the absence of gunfire but a state where the clamor for better lives has been met. Basilan, he declared, is witnessing the dawn of a unique peace—one that replaces the grim statistics of war casualties with encouraging indicators of human development.

The president commended Basilan for confronting the causes of discontent, preventing violence from taking root, and drawing strength from the diversity of its people. The convergence of various faiths working together showcases a unity that transforms diversity from a potential source of division into a wellspring of strength and solidarity.

“This is the kind of peace that draws strength from the free will of the people, instead of commanding their religion by force,” he said.

Historically, Basilan has been a bastion of resistance, echoing the spirit of its ancestors who repelled colonizers. Today, the province stands firm against modern-day terrorism, rejecting attempts to sow discord through lies. The resilience of the Yakans, Tausugs, Chavacanos, and Christian communities, rooted in their deep faith, serves as a beacon for the nation.

Former rebels who surrendered their firearms, now receives assistance from the government and UNDP partners.
Firearms surrendered by former rebels were destroyed during a ceremony at Nahatallang, Sumisip in Basilan.

“They never ceded their communities never surrendered the future to an ideology that clashes with the values that they hold here,” he said.

President Marcos Jr praised Basilan's commitment to peace, symbolized by the Kasanyangan monument—a testament to the hard-fought journey towards reconciliation. The province's initiatives, such as the Small Arms and Light Weapons for Security Integration and Recovery, have resulted in the surrender of firearms, the rehabilitation of former Abu Sayyaf Group members, and increased control over weapons, fostering peace and order.

The president acknowledged the tireless efforts of public servants, community and religious leaders, and international partners, including the United Nations, the European Union, and the governments of Japan and Australia. Their support, he stressed, is crucial in weaving peace into the fabric of Basilan's social life.

In conclusion, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr expressed hope that the progress witnessed in Basilan would be sustained. He reassured the province that the national government is committed to being a partner in Basilan's great leap forward, affirming that the destiny of Basilan is intertwined with the fate of the nation. As the people of Basilan embark on this journey towards "Ang Bagong Pilipinas," the president declared, "May the hope that we feel today sustain what we have already achieved in Basilan." (EDT/RVC/PIA-9)

About the Author

Rene Carbayas

Assistant Regional Head

Region 9

Media practitioner, a teacher by profession, an advocate for youth, peace and environment, culture and the arts, playwright and theater artist; earned his Masters Degree in Theater at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, and pursued studies in public administration at Western Mindanao State University. Some 19 years in public service and today as Assistant Regional Head of the Philippine Information Agency Region IX.

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