Three small towns dare to dream big
By Mai B. Gevera
Davao City (18 January) -- Some call it a big, bold move for three small towns.
Jose Abad Santos (JAS) mayor Alex Wangkay, Glan mayor Enrique Yap, and Sarangani mayor Jerry Cawa are dreaming big with the birth of Jose Abad Santos Glan Sarangani Cooperation Triangle (JAGS-CT).
Last February 2003, the three towns held exploratory talks on the proposed establishment of JAGS-CT to develop trade and freer movement of goods, and services within and outside their areas.
In August 2003, JAGS-CT was formally launched in Glan, Sarangani Province and a Memorandum of Agreement was signed by the three mayors of the cooperating municipalities.
All located in the southernmost portion of Mindanao, these towns have the geographical edge to establish free and smooth trade with a nearby neighbor, Indonesia.
On a six-hour boat ride, one can already reach Tahuna, the nearest group of islands of Indonesia from the Philippines. It is bounded by the Philippine Sea in the East and Celebes Sea in the Southwest.
JAS mayor Wangkay said the group is exploring opportunities available by tapping the nearby Indonesian areas.
Sarangani mayor Cawa bared JAGS-CT’s initial plan of cutting trade barriers between Indonesia and the three towns.
“ Smuggling of Indonesian products to these areas of the country is a long-time activity. It started even before I was born. However, we are thinking of legalizing this trade in order for the government to earn.”, Cawa explained.
He added that if Indonesians have long transferred goods through the backdoor and earned from it, why can’t the local residents do the same by directly selling local goods to Indonesia.
“ Indonesian traders should thank us for helping them legalize their trade. On the other hand, this would also give our local businessmen find a market share in a foreign country.”, he said.
Indonesia is known to have been exporting goods like bevergaes and candies. JAS, this time, is also planning to export televisions locally manufactured.
JAS, a second class municipality, Glan, a first class, and Sarangani, a fourth class, are now prepared to compete their local products and services to Indonesia.
Glan boasts off their products like cows, goats, and fighting cocks.
Glan and Sarangani, both home of white-sand beaches are banking on their tourism. JAGS-CT is blessed with several potential tourist spots waiting to be developed. Several varieties of flora and fauna can be found in the forest areas of these towns such as Tarsier of JAS and Glan, Coco Crab or Kusaso of JAS and Sarangani, Serpent Eagles and Philippine Hawk of Glan, and Pitcher plant of Sarangani.
In terms of investment opportunities, the three towns have the required establishments like fish processing, food processing plants, coco mills among others to competitively trade with other countries.
The three mayors visited Indonesia yesterday to discuss with local chief executives and the private sector regarding potential business tie-ups. (PIA) [top]