TVIRD establishes a zone of peace in Zamboanga del Norte through sustainable livelihood
Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte / May 2013 – Fisher folks of Barangay Sta. Maria in the town of Siocon have improved their living standards through the acquisition of a Kubkoban fishing vessel, which comes as an endowment from TVI Resource Development Philippines Inc. (TVIRD). The group generated a gross income of Php1.6 million in its first year of fishing operations, as reported by association president Tan Cailo at the recently-concluded Philippine Mining Forum. Cailo, who himself is a former member of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and leader of a group of 76 reformed combatants under the association, spoke at the maiden forum organized by the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines. He was joined by co-presenters Atty. Jesus Dureza, former Press Secretary, and Bai Dalena Samling, female chief of the B’laan tribe in Tampakan, South Cotabato.
“Since our first expedition, the Kubkoban already earned a gross income of Php1,661,900 while every crew member averages PhP3,000 (income) per expedition,” according to Cailo. “Now we have Php148 thousand in the bank which we can use to purchase a transport vehicle,” he added.
The Sta. Maria Fisherfolks Association, Inc. (SMFAI) collectively owns the Kubkoban – a large fishing vessel financed by TVIRD and built by association members themselves for almost a year. The project comes as part of the company’s sustainable development program in communities where it operates. It also comes as an active response to the need to foster peace and progress in the town of Siocon where TVIRD operates its copper and zinc mine, and Sta. Maria wharf where its port is located.
Cailo shared with media attendees that he was once a combatant belonging to the potent Muslim secessionist group. Later on, he and many others returned to a peaceful life as fishermen in Sta. Maria.
He became an elected councilman in his village inhabited mostly by Muslim Tausugs, which means ‘brave seafarer.’ He knew, like most of his constituents, that poverty and abuse were the reasons why he joined the MNLF before.
“Without your own big fishing boat, you only get fish just enough to feed your family for a day,” he said. He admitted that he and his men have long dreamt of having a Kubkoban. It was the only answer to relieving his constituents from hardship.
”With this type of a fishing boat, you can go as far as the Sulu Seas and get a big catch. It may be costly to build but you will surely get a return on your investment,” he explained, also citing that the Kubkoban took P2.8-M to build.
“I can’t thank the company enough for giving us this boat. We have dreamt of this and now it’s here. I meant it when I said to them that this will greatly help my people,” Cailo said. He also shared that they are planning to buy a large truck to transport and deliver their fish to nearby towns.
Mindanao: braving new waters
The country’s foremost mining chamber pushes the Mindanao Mining Agenda forward, pursuant to responsible mineral development in the Mindanao region. Together with participating member companies including TVIRD, SMI and Philex, the chamber also aims to promote dialogue in mining communities in order to propel economic activity that will bring lasting peace and progress.
“You can sign all the peace agreements you want. But without economic activity and livelihood, poverty will trigger uprising and insurgency,” former Secretary Jesus Dureza said during the forum. Dureza was presidential adviser on the peace process during the Ramos administration
“I visited Siocon and have personally seen how TVI’s presence and economic activity elevated the town from a class 3 municipality to first class status.” Dureza added.