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PH’s oldest mosque to receive P77.6 million in tourism infrastructure support

Cotabato City (February 23, 2016) – The country’s oldest mosque located in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) will receive tourism support funding worth P77.6 million, a regional executive said on Monday, February 22.
Engr. Don Mustapha Loong, secretary of the region’s Public Works and Highways (DPWH-ARMM), said the access road going to the Sheikh Karim-ul Makhdum Mosque will be improved even as several other infrastructure projects will be built within its periphery.

“We are investing on the roads leading to Sheikh Makdum as well as in its periphery because we believe in the tourism potential of southern Mindanao,” Sec. Loong said.

The Sheikh Makhdum Mosque was erected in 1380 in the small fishing village of Tubig (Bohe), Indangan in Simunul town in Tawi-Tawi province. The mosque was declared a National Historical Landmark by the National Historical Commission and a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum.

The infrastructure projects will be built by the local government unit of Simunul after a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) was signed on Monday at the ARMM governor’s office here. Sec. Loong said the project is targeted to be completed from three to six months.

Official records show that 55,085 foreign and domestic tourists visited Tawi-Tawi in 2015 with P965 million in tourism gross receipts. The figures showed a significant increase of 14.35% in tourist arrivals and 14.34% in gross receipts in the province compared with 2014’s figures.

Tawi-Tawi is the southernmost province in the country and covers small islands in the Sulu Sea and to the northwest, the Cagayan de Tawi-Tawi Island and Turtle Island.

In 2015, there were 192,307 tourist arrivals in the ARMM, generating more than P3 billion in tourism gross receipts spent mostly on cultural events; nature, sun and beach visits; and diving, as well as marine sports and other relevant events. The ARMM is composed of the mainland provinces of Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur and the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

Sec. Loong said his office is providing more assistance to the tourism industry with the construction of access roads to tourism sites in the region. In September 2015, DPWH-ARMM started the construction of projects and development of Bud Bongao, Tawi-Tawi’s famous peak, worth P56 million. The projects include multi-purpose hall, view deck, station point, concrete pathway, parking area, and billboard.

Another P100 million was allotted for the improvement of the Lake Dapao Circumferential Road in Lanao del Sur. Five other MoAs for the construction of access roads and water systems worth P66.93 million were also inked between the ARMM government and three local government units (LGUs) in Lanao del Sur.

ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman said the infrastructure projects are a manifestation of trust and confidence of the regional government on the LGUs.

“The basic requirement is the capacity of the LGUs to implement projects – their sufficiency of construction equipment, and availability of skilled and well-experienced engineers,” Gov. Hataman said. On February 16, several MoAs were inked between the ARMM government and more than 20 LGUs in the region covering infrastructure worth more than P1.9 billion.

“Gusto nating palakasin yung capacity ng local government units. In fact, ito yung pinaka outcome na gusto natin (We want to strengthen the capacity of local government units. In fact, it is the ultimate outcome we want),” Gov. Hataman added. (Bureau of Public Information)
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