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Investors eye Matanog town for investments - mayor

Breaking News • 01:46 AM Mon Aug 24, 2015
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By: 
Ferdinandh Cabrera
Aerial photo of Matanog town hall in Maguindanao. Matanog has become the investment destinations of foreign investors from Malaysia, Europe, Guatemala, Saudi, Mayor Mohammad Guro said. (Ferdinandh Cabrera)

MATANOG, Maguindanao -- Several foreign
investors from Asia, Middle East and South America are now in close contact
with the local government here for investment in agriculture.

Matanog Mayor Mohammad Kits” Guro said investors
are eyeing the rich and fertile soil for high value crops which is expected to
provide employment to the locals, specifically in the village of Langkong.

Langkong” is an Iranun term for fertile soil.

Based on studies conducted, the quality of soil is
exceptional,” Guro said.

Langkong soil nutrients is high quality, so the
people here now are excited and have been asking when the project will start,”
he said, adding that investment processing of documents is being fast tracked.

Among the top agricultural products these foreign
investors wanted to export from his town are the bulk of supply of coconut,
banana, pineapple and coffee.

I met several (investment) players who signified
interest to invest in our town, and we are catching up with the requirements to
be completed within this year,” Guro said.

Guro said everything has started during his pilgrimage
in Mecca, Saudi Arabia last month where he met several businessmen who were
willing to invest in Mindanao, in Matanog in particular.

A Malaysian investor has demanded huge export supply
of whole coconut that can be accommodated in one huge ship export. Guro said he
is now working with Maritime officials for loading at the Polloc Port in nearby
Parang, Maguindanao.

Coconut is Matanog’s major crop planted in almost
20,000 hectares. About 80 percent coconut was planted with coconut in eight
villages.

The town has a population of at least 29,000.

We feel our supply is not enough so we have to tap
the nearby Iranun towns and from Lanao del Sur,” Guro said.

Guro declared that another Saudi-based investor has
asked him for supply of bananas that can be regularly shipped to the Middle
East due to high demand.

He (Saudi investor) challenged me if we can him with
one fleet of banana regularly, I told him I am not yet ready but we are moving
toward converting vast track of lands into Cavendish banana plantations.

Matanog town is working out this prospect with La
Frutera Corporation, a known player of banana plantations in Central Mindanao
for at least 1,000 hectares land area.

DOLE-Philippine, a firm engaged in fresh pineapple production,
has also offered 5,000 hectares pineapple plantation project.

A Guatamela-based investor is also eyeing Matanog for
coffee plantations site and is now on the edge of patching up the documentary
requirements.

While Guro admitted they lack technical expertise
and capitalization to push all of these, the partner investors have pledged to
work it with the people of Matanog provided the town will ensure peace and
stability in the locality.

Asked why investors are starting to focus their eyes
on Matanog, Guro said this was the result of the perseverance the LGU and the
people to improve economic activities while in long waiting for the
establishment of a new Bangsamoro government.

While the BBL is yet to be realized, Guro said he
ventured into settling land and family dispute in Matanog with the help of the
Army’s 603rd Infantry Brigade.

Guro believed that improving peace and order
situation in the locality will also improve the lives of its constituents.

The LGU of Matanog and 603rd brigade assured safety
and security of cargo truckers and commuters along Sec. Narciso Ramos highway,
even during unholy hours.

Security was among the concerns of investors during
Guro’s meeting with them.

I told potential investors, come and invest here,
if it your business fails because of extortion or atrocities, we will give back
your capital investments,” Guro stressed.

Since 2003, no more major skirmishes between
government forces and Moro rebels because of the ceasefire agreement.

Matanog host the former Camp Abubakar in what used
to be the bailiwick and main camp of the MILF. In year 2000, war broke out
here, leaving thousands dead, both soldiers, Moro rebels and civilians.

A ranking town lady employee who refused to be
identified said that every time LGU employees attend meeting or seminar
elsewhere, they will be ridiculed by asking them Kumusta na sa Matanog, mga
kambing at baka pa din ba naka-opisina sa municipal hall(How was Matanog, are
goats and cows still report to the town hall?),” he said.

She added the LGU is no longer holding seminars
outside Matanog after the establishment of a state-of-the-art Bangsamoro
Training Center that caters town activities including seminars, meetings and
even special events of local residents.

Would you believe the construction of the training
center only costs LGU about P4.8 million. In other towns, it would cost about P10
million, so we have a lot of savings,” she added.

Metro Cotabato Chamber of Commerce and Industry
President Dr. Danda Juanday who visited the town on this weekend for a medical
mission, said he is hopeful with Mayor Guro putting emphasis on foreign investments,
something good will come to this once conflict affected town.

Great things will happen, this is also what we are
dreaming for the Bangsamoro people at the business chamber ... we hope and pray
things will work soon,” Juanday said in his speech during the medical mission.

Aside from working to convert communities into
economic hub in Maguindanao, Matanog is also working for eco-tourism hub after
the tapping the picturesque Lake Marayag,” a rich inland area at Matanog’s southern
part, still surrounded by thickly forested mountain.

The area has been hidden and it has unexplored
waterfalls underneath.

Once developed, this falls will become the town’s
tourist attraction,” Guro said.

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