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PIA Press Release

PGMA witnesses unloading of "Fruits of Hope" from North Cotabato

Manila (18 September) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo witnessed today the unloading at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City of 25,000 lbs. of native fruits from North Cotabato which were flown into the metropolis via the military's C-130 as the administration's initial transport assistance to the fruit farmers down south.

The fruits. were rounded up from farmers of North Cotabato where President Arroyo was supposed to have signed her Executive Order on GIGA or "generating investments in geothermal areas" last week, but was prevented from flying to the slopes of Mt. Apo for the ceremony because of foul weather.

The fruits -- composed of lanzones, rambutan, pomelo, mangosteen, marang and durian were unloaded at the fixed-wing hangar of the Presidential Airlift Wing (PAW) at Villamor Air Base. They were brought in via the newly conceived "Fruits of Hope" project of the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC).

North Cotabato Gov. Jesus Sakdalan and PNRC head Sen. Richard Gordon both thanked President Arroyo for lending the military's C-130 cargo planes as initial free bulk transport for the farm-to-market linkage project.

Sakdalan dubbed the project as "prutas ng pag-asa at kapayapaan"; while Gordon enthused that the direct linkage of the farmers and the vendors has brought "ibayong kaginhawaan sa mga farmers" in the hinterland areas of Mindanao, what with the fruits lapped up by vendors within an hour after these were unloaded.

Gordon and Sakdalan also announced that two transport giants Negros Navigation and Sulpicio Lines have already come forward to help the Mindanao farmers with a "special price" to transport their produce direct to the waiting fruit vendors in Metro Manila.

Today's fruit delivery already conveniently wrapped in cartons was fetched at the hangar by members of the Fresh and Green Foods Cooperative of Quezon City which belongs to Entrepinay, a nationwide organization of some 20,000 female entrepreneurs.

An officer of the above-mentioned women's group said the QC fruit vendors account for some 50 chapters of the 155 chapters of Entrepinay nationwide; and that each chapter is composed of some 150 members.

QC has a fruits "bagsakan" dubbed Fruit Terminal in Brgy. Holy Spirit, and which terminal has several satellites, including the ones at Diliman, Commonwealth and the Batasan Area.

Also on hand to fetch the fruits for sale were representatives from Rustan's and the National Market Vendors Confederation of Cooperatives (NAMVESCO).

The PNRC's "Fruits of Hope" partners include the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the Asia-America Initiative, the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Peace Process (OPAPP), Shoemart, Nescafe, NAMVESCO, and the local governments of Sulu and North Cotabato. (PIA) [top]

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