Wednesday, 09 February 2022 20:53

Maasim transforms from NPA stronghold to investment hub

MAASIM, Sarangani (February 9, 2022) – Six barangays in Maasim have now been “cleared” from the activities of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).

With the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ validation and recommendation, barangays Pananag, Malbang, Lumasal, Bales, Seven Hills, and Nomoh are now declared rebel-free communities.

Different local and national-line agencies have converged to deliver basic social and economic services to the far-flung communities of Maasim through the provincial government’s Serbisyo Caravan para sa Sarangan.

The Serbisyo Caravan is part of the Retooled Community Support Program (RCSP) - an umbrella program under Executive Order No. 70 institutionalizing the whole-of-nation approach to End Local Communist Armed Conflict in the country (ELCAC).

Mayor Zyrex Pacquiao recalled Maasim was then labeled by many as a “rebel-infested community” and a “war zone” because the presence of NPA rebels is rampant in the municipality.

“Siguro mga 10-15 years ago, walang peace dito talagang insurgency is visible sa lahat ng barangays. Kapag sinabing Maasim, ayaw nilang mag-invest, ayaw nilang dumaan at kung dumaan man lang, ayaw nilang magstop over kasi talagang magulo ang Maasim noon,” Pacquiao lamented.

“Historically, if a barangay is known as infested ng rebels, ‘yung mga investors hindi talaga nag-iinvest. That is the impact there,” added Jordan Amadora, the municipal ELCAC focal person.

Now, Maasim is considered one of the “fast-growing” municipalities and is labeled as the investment capital of Sarangani and a center for business opportunities.

Some of the municipality’s leading investment opportunities include the Historical Tampat Park for eco-tourism, the Kamanga Agro-Industrial Economic Zone for agri-based manufacturing and processing, and the Sarangani Energy Corporation power plant which supplies 210 megawatts of electricity to the Southern Mindanao power grid.

Also, the Kanalo Agri-Aqua Resources Inc., which is involved in integrated coco fiber processing, and the Gensan Shipyard and Machine Works Inc. in barangay Tinoto for shipbuilding and repair, are some of the major players in the municipality’s development. Through the national government’s ELCAC program, four barangays in Maasim were among the beneficiaries of the P20-million development assistance package from the national government, while two barangays will receive P4-million assistance.

According to Mayor Pacquiao, most of the chairpersons of the recipient barangays will prioritize “hard projects” such as road-concreting projects in order to reach more far-flung sitios.

“In terms of development, evident na siya sa munisipyo ng Maasim because we have plenty of investors here already. Before was the horror and terror sa munisipyo, ngayon naging investment hub na ang munisipyo,” Amadora said.

“Ngayon nakikita natin na nagiging progresibo, maasenso, at peaceful na ang Maasim. ‘Yung mga dating nasa kabila, nagbalik-loob na rin sila sa gobyerno,” Pacquiao added. From 2019 up to the present, there are 83 rebel surrenderees in Maasim who have returned to the fold of the law. They are also enrolled in the provincial government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) for former rebels. (Jori Mae R. Samillano/SARANGANI PROVINCIAL INFORMATION OFFICE)

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