September 3, 2006

North Luzon kicks-off PGMA’s agribusiness push

In line with the SONA commitment of President Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo for the five Superregions to “put the country back in step with the rest of its Asian neighbors,” President-designate North Luzon Super-region “Champion” Arthur Yap presided over the First North Luzon Agribusiness Quadrangle (NLAQ) Meeting on August 17 at the Leisure Coast Resort in Dagupan City, with the development stakeholders from Regions I, II, III and Cordillera Autonomous Regions (CAR), including the governors, mayors and local government leaders, in attendance.

Secretary Yap, also Presidential Management Staff (PMS) Director General and the government’s job creation czar, said the affair officially jumpstarted multi-sectoral and multi-level collaborations to implement President Arroyo’s SONA projects and plans for North Luzon.

President Arroyo, in her recent SONA, bared a comprehensive plan that would put the country back in step with the rest of its Asian neighbors by subdividing the country into five “super regions,” with North Luzon to be known as the North Luzon Agribusiness Quadrangle.

The NLAQ meeting initiated multi-sectoral and multi-level collaborations involving the implementation of 17 major infrastructure projects, including small-scale irrigation and farm-to-market roads. It mobilized the country’s national and global edge in agricultural productivity and efficiency that hope to match the best areas/regions in Asia, and usher new investments in the fast growing areas in the country.

North Luzon, composed of 19 provinces with 11.7 million Filipinos or 15 percent of the country’s total population, will prioritize agribusiness investments, which, according to President Arroyo, is the “strength of Northern Luzon and the strongest way to fight poverty in Asia.”

North Luzon Champion Yap has expressed confidence local government leaders will be able to rev up food production, develop agribusiness lands, and further build cold storages, better roads, seaports and airports in the region.

During the meeting, he discussed the country’ potentials and provided direction in accordance with the President’s NLAQ’s plan.

The major projects for the NLAQ cover irrigation, energy projects, airports, seaports, roads and post-harvest. These are the Agno River Integrated Irrigation project, Banaoang Pump Irrigation project and Small-scale Irrigation projects; the Batanes Wind Power project, the Ilocos Norte North Wind Power project, and Bio-diesel project (Jatropha Mega Nursery); Bagabag Airport (Nueva Vizcaya), Lallo Airport Development (Cagayan), Poro International Airport (La Union), and Basco Airport Development and Itbayat Airport Development (Batanes); Salomague seaport (Ilocos Sur) and Port Irene Rehabilitation and Development project (Cagayan); and Halsema Highway (Mountain Province) and Tabuk-Tuguegarao Road Upgrading (Benguet-Mountain Province-Ifugao); Post Harvest Facilities (Cold Chain) project and Farm-to-Market road projects.

NLAQ is part of President Arroyo’s roadmap to boost economic and market potentials in the region with economies of scale, synergies and complementation that will be more attractive to investors.

The President recently appointed five Malacañang officials to head the administration’s “superregions” to spur economic and infrastructure development in the countryside.

The four “super-regions” are the North Luzon agribusiness quadrangle, the Metro Luzon urban beltway, the Central Philippines tourism park and the Mindanao food market. She added a fifth, the Cyber Corridor that runs the length of the super-regions, to boost telecommunications, technology and education.

The champions for the other super regions mentioned in the President’s SONA are Sec. Ed Pamintuan for the Luzon Urban Beltway, Tourism Sec. Ace Durano for Central Philippines, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza for Mindanao, and ICT Commissioner Ramon Sales for the Cyber Corridor.

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