THE MINDANAO Development Authority (MinDA) has identified Jolo, the capital of Sulu province, as a priority development area after Taraka town in Lanao del Sur. “We will come up with a comprehensive proposal and present it to the President,” MinDA Chairperson Emmanuel F. Piñol said in a statement Friday. The development program will be similar to the one recently launched in Taraka, which involves the establishment of model learning centers mainly for agricultural livelihood activities. Among the key sectors eyed for Jolo are chicken and cattle farming, and solar-power energy for both electricity supply and water desalination. Sulu, a part of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), is composed of composed of several islands and has been known as the stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf, a kidnap-for-ranson group that has in recent years allied with the extremist Islamic State.
Meanwhile, Mr. Piñol said they have also formed the Infrastructure Management Advisory Group (IMAG) that will assist in the rehabilitation plan for three villages in Jolo that were hit by a fire early this month. “I would like to emphasize that right now we are looking at this undertaking as a joint effort of the local government, military, national government, and the private sector,” he said. IMAG will be tasked to oversee the rebuilding of partially damaged houses for 2,379 affected families and determine interventions for 1,377 households that lost their properties. “This is the initial phase of consultative process prior to delivering interventions,” said Mr. Piñol following a visit to the town and a meeting with Mayor Kerkhar S. Tan last week. — Carmelito Q. Francisco