PGMA completes historic visit to Panglima Sugala, Tawi-Tawi
By Rene V. Carbayas
Panglima Sugala, Tawi-Tawi (15 March) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo made history as the first Philippine President to visit Panglima Sugala (Bato-Bato) island in Tawi-Tawi last Thursday (March 11).
In an interview, ARMM Regional Legislative Assembly (RLA) Speaker Rejie M. Sahali-Generali said that the visit of the president in Panglima Sugala was significant for the people as shown by their excitement and eagerness to see their president.
Hundreds of cheering crowd greeted the President in her short visit here. Speaker Sahali-Generali revealed that most of these people came from island barangays who made an effort to come to Bato-Bato to see the president.
"Malaking bagay para sa amin ang pagbisita ni Madam President. Kahit na yung mga nasa island barangays, kahit na malayo sila, ay bumiyahe dahil gusto nilang makita si Presidente," Speaker Sahali said, adding that the people are carrying cameras hoping to get a good souvenir shot of the visiting President.
The Speaker said that the people are a bit frustrated, however, because they are expecting the President to speak. Nevertheless, the people were very happy and grateful for the President's visit as the people felt that they were given importance by the President.
Paglima Sugala Mayor Nurbert Sahali said that the President's visit is "history in the politics of Panglima Sugala." He said the visit would definitely impact the people's perception of government, now that the people have felt they were given importance by the national government. This, he said, will encourage people to support more the local government.
President Arroyo visited Tawi-Tawi to personally inspect the fast tracking of the first phase of the construction project of Sanga-Sanga-Lapid-Lapid Bridges, which will connect the Municipality of Bongao along Sanga-Sanga Road to the mainland of Tawi-Tawi along Lapid-Lapid Road.
When completed, Mayor Sahali believes this will boost the economy of Panglima Sugala municipality and the entire province of Tawi-Tawi. The mayor disclosed that Panglima Sugala was tagged as the food basket of Tawi-Tawi. The construction of the three bridges, when completed, will provide the connectivity of the mainland to Bongao.
Meanwhile, Speaker Sahali thought of the vast potentials of tourism when the bridges will be completed because of the promising attractions that Tawi-Tawi can offer to visitors and tourists, given the good peace and order situation in the area.
Local officials are optimistic that the legacy of the president to Tawi-Tawi will open more windows of opportunities for the people, boosting the economy, tourism, and accessibility to government health and other services.
Upon arrival at Sanga-Sanga airport in Bongao, the President changed aircraft to conduct an aerial inspection of the status of the 3 bridges before landing at Bato-Bato Elementary School. After the short program and meeting of local officials at Panglima Sugala municipal hall, the President flew back to Bongao to inaugurate the water treatment facility of the Tawi-Tawi Water District.
Panglima Sugala is a 5th class island municipality with a land area of 24,520 hectares and a population of 50,504 (August 2007). Its major tribe and dialect is Sinama and Tausug, respectively. (PIA9-BST) [top]