Lamitan among 20 finalists in nationwide Galing Pook search

GOVERNANCE/POLITICS • Sun Sep 24, 2017 05:23 PM  •  1,731   0
By John Unson
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The newly-expanded port in Lamitan City, now a major facet of commerce and trade in Basilan province.(JOHN UNSON)
The newly-expanded port in Lamitan City, now a major facet of commerce and trade in Basilan province.(JOHN UNSON)
COTABATO CITY --- Residents are optimistic the inclusion of Lamitan City in the 20 finalists for the 2017 Galing Pook Award will hasten more the growth of its fledgling economy. 

No fewer than 200 local government units participated in this year’s Galing Pook Award contest, a yearly search for LGUs with outstanding initiatives by the Galing Pook Foundation. 

Mayor Rose Furigay said on Sunday Lamitan City was included among the top 20 finalists for the award. 

“This is a feat me and my constituents did not even thought would happen too soon,” Furigay said. 

The search, supported by different agencies of the national government, will culminate before yearend. 

Lamitan started as a component municipality of Basilan in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and became a chartered city only in 2007. 

“Credit has to go to the barangay officials in the city, our business sector, the academe and the local Muslim and Christian religious communities,” said Furigay, now in her second term as mayor. 

Rima Hassan, president of the Lamitan Chamber of Commerce, said on Sunday that the improvements in the local business climate were ushered in by the massive implementation of infrastructure projects by the ARMM government in their 45 barangays in the past five years. 

“Being in the top 20 finalists for the 2017 Galing Pook Award is a big bonus for us considering that Lamitan City is still an infant city,” Hassan said. 

Hassan said members of the local business chamber are confident the city will bag a Galing Pook Award this year. 

“Even just the inclusion of the city among the top 20 finalists for the award is something we already can brag about to our business partners outside of Lamitan City,” Hassan said. 

Lamitan City has its “ROSE” program as highlight in vying for the 2017 Galing Pook Award. The ROSE is an acronym for the now four-year “Reaching Out, Serving Everyone,” a multi-faceted public service program benefiting Muslim and Christian communities. 

The program aims to address poverty and maximize delivery of basic government services to the city’s more than 70,000 residents. 

“It is also focused on sustaining the solidarity of the local Muslim and Christian communities,” said Ustadz Bayan Marujin, president of the Madaris Association in Lamitan City. 

The association is comprised of various Islamic schools run by moderate clerics actively helping the city government of Lamitan prevent the spread of violent religious extremists, or VREs, in its 45 barangays. 

The police and the military are working closely with the group of Marujin in insulating the city from VREs, an activity the Lamitan LGU is helping sustain via fiscal and technical support. 

Marujin said while winning a Galing Pook Award is a “long shot” yet, the city’s inclusion among the top 20 finalists for this year’s search is already too rewarding for them. 

“Competing against 200 progressive, more developed LGUs that are engaged in more pro-people activities funded by local revenues is no joke. Being listed as among top 20 finalists is so good,” he said. 

Rino Pamaran, a large-scale trader of agricultural products, said what is fascinating for him is the continuing increase in applications in the office of their mayor for permits to operate local businesses. 

“The trend has been like that in recent years. What else can be a better indication that businesses in Lamitan City are now booming? Life is good here now,” said Pamaran, also an operator of pawnshops in the city. 

He said he is confident the city will win a Galing Pook Award this year. Pamaran said the recent expansion of operations in Lamitan City of private shipping companies could also possibly boost its bid for the Galing Pook Award. 

“Owners of these large vessels would not send their units to Lamitan City to transport cargoes from the area to other parts of the country if they are scared of the security situation here,” Pamaran said. 

The city’s port was rehabilitated and expanded recently by the ARMM government through the office of Basilan’s district engineer, Soler Undug, and a private contractor using a P150 million allocation from the yearly infrastructure budget of the autonomous region. 
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