PGMA cites Sulu's 'Arms for Farms' program
Manila (25 October) -- FORMER Muslim rebels -- and even Abu Sayyaf members and their families -- are now tilling the land they once fought for in Sulu.
At a roundtable discussion in Malacaņang, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo cited the "Arms for Farms" program being implemented by Sulu Governor Benjamin Loong which has enabled some 25,000 members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) to till and benefit from the yield of 8,500 hectares of land.
The President said Sulu used to top the list of poorest provinces in the country but its poverty incidence is now down to 47 percent from 67 percent.
She noted that former MNLF members were now living peacefully as fishermen, soldiers of the government, and farmers.
"There are many programs in line for people who would want to exchange their arms for farms -- for those who want to turn swords into plowshares, as mentioned in the Bible," Arroyo said.
Loong said under the Arm for Farms program, his office offers the use of farm tractors to the land owned or tilled by former combatants in areas in Sulu.
It also involved providing them with planting materials delivered on site. The entire yield would go to the farmers. (PIA-MMIO) [top]