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Food security, good infrastructure key to development and progress - PGMA

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Tuesday said that food security, through agriculture and good infrastructure are the key to development and progress.

Mrs. Arroyo stressed that the completion of the Surigao-Davao Coastal road will lift from the bondage of poverty poor residents in the area and will also answer the very needs of the farmers and businessmen, thus result in full development and economic prosperity of Surigao and nearby areas.

She vowed to "liberate" Surigao from poverty by improving the productivity and income of farmers and opening markets through ports and other vital infrastructures.

President Arroyo inaugurated the new P50-million Socorro Feeder Port in Socorro town, this province on Tuesday. She also inspected the ongoing ground works of the remaining 15-kilometer Lingig (Surigao del Sur)-Boston (Davao Oriental) road which is set to be completed by June.

Surigao del Norte and Surigao del Sur are both part of Agribusiness Mindanao of five super regions mapped out by the Arroyo administration in 2006 to spur the southern island's economic development.

President Arroyo pointed out that agriculture and good infrastructure are both vital components in development and progress.

"Isiguro nato nga kada adlaw ibutang ang mga kinahanglan sa atong atubangan o centro, gusto nato ang kalinaw magadala sa prosperidad ug paglaom sa kada lalake ug babaye ug bata sa Mindanao (We must make sure that everyday we can have all what we need, we want peace that will bring prosperity and hope to every man and woman and children of Mindanao)," she said in the local dialect.

She encouraged local leaders to be more aggressive in agri-business to beef up the region's productivity and to implement more innovative programs to make Mindanao the country's "food basket".

The President cited the help of Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) which has so far provided P161 billion in countryside loans, of which P46 billion went to Mindanao alone. Most of these loans went to agricultural farming equipment such as driers and post harvest facilities to improve the quality of farm produce so they can command better prices in the market.

Addressing a huge crowd of students, teachers, and government, business and civic leaders at the Surigao del Norte College of Agriculture and Technology (SCAT) at Barangay Magpayang here, the President also encouraged various agricultural schools to be more aggressive and highly technically competitive.

She said that agribusiness is very potential in development and progress. "Better and better education for agri-business in order to fulfill the potential of Mindanao as bread basket," Mrs. Arroyo stressed.

The President also cited the need to liberate the youth from violence and poverty which she called the "twin scourges of society," through education and by expanding their opportunities to a better life.

President Arroyo has said she will continue to strive building a better life for the young generation even after she relinquishes power in June.

She told SCAT students, parents, and teachers that she has worked hard to improve the educational system for the next generation of Filipinos, and will continue to do so in the future.

"The youth of our nation are our hope and inspiration." "We must do everything to build a better life for each and every young person of this nation," she said.

The Chief Executive stressed that it is the government's desire to see a brighter future for the hardworking men and women of the country, especially the teachers who mold the students. She also said she wants to see that the progress and development attained during her term is continued by the next leadership. She thus urged teachers and parents to help support the next administration in its effort to provide a better future for their children.

"We also need to beef up the region's productivity some more through the provision of 300 composting facilities; giving MRFs (material recovery facilities) so that garbage becomes fertilizers; building irrigation for 400,000 hectares in Mindanao and spending P9 billion in farm to market roads and highways, including the Surigao-Davao coastal roads and ports," she added.

The Chief Executive, accompanied here by Press Secretary Crispulo J. Icban Jr., Transportation and Communications Secretary Leandro Mendoza, Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Horace Ramos, Public Works and Highways Secretary Victor Domingo, Commissioner Hadja Luningning Omar of the Commission on Higher Education and Mindanao Agribusiness Super-region Champion Secretary Jesus Dureza, also urged her audience to help the government's environment reservation and forest protection.

During her visit here, the DENR held a composting demonstration for students and farmers using used truck tires, carabao manure, farm wastes and farm or garden soil.

Impressed, President Arroyo ordered Sec. Ramos to direct his field personnel to coordinate with all LGUs to adopt the recovery facilities in all barangays as required by law.

The President was welcomed in Surigao del Norte by top regional, provincial and city officials led by Surigao del Norte Rep. Francisco T. Matugas (1st district), Surigao City Mayor Alfonso S. Casurra, Mainit Mayor Ramon C. Mondanao, Philippine Information Agency Director Abner Caga and other top military and police officials in the region. (muc/PIA-Caraga)

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