From e-Turbo News (Apr 26): City shedding image of terrorism hotspot, woos tourists
ISABELA CITY, Philippines - This island port city is finally shedding its image as a terrorism hotspot as it begins to woo tourists to sample its offerings.
The city, home to a diverse Christian amd Muslim cultures, is now ready to showcase what it can offer to the the world as it culminated its 13th anniversary as the first city of Basilan.
“We have had enough of negative perceptions and we want to show that we are ready to receive visitors to experience the natural beauty our place has to offer,” said Mayor Cherrylyn Santos-Akbar.
Among those the city could offer are the white sand beaches at Malamawi, an island facing off this port city, falls and the unique culture of Yakans, the peace-loving Muslim tribe in the south, according to Akbar.
The lady executive believed that opening the city to tourism would help them battle the negative perceptions about it.
The city is one of the top producers of copra and raw rubber materials given the vast plantation in the island. Thie island is also known for aqua-marine products.
Akbar said the city has invited artists from Manila to help them with their tourism bid.
Thousands of locals converged at the town plaza Friday and witnessed the cultural parade presented by the local government and different schools and non-government organizations.
“For many years now, we have been feeling safer despite the rumored threats. We have to stand up now and show we are no longer afraid,” a resident said after joining the parade.
City Police director Superintendent Albert Larubis said the city has been relatively peaceful for the past months.
“There are threats, but we are in pro-active mode to address all these threats,” Larubis said, citing the series of arrests of suspected Abu Sayyaf members in the city.
During the event, Larubis said they checked all the areas around the city and nearby towns to thwart any bomb and terror threats.
Hundreds of policemen and military troops were also scattered to secure the people and city.
“Yes we are ready to provide security for our tourists who would consider the beautiful place of Isabela City,” Larubis added. (Source: Philippine Star)
With Chairman Murad were First Vice Chairman Ghazali Jaafar, Second Vice Chairman Aleem Pangalian Solaiman, BIAF Chief of Staff Sammy Al Mansur, Central Committee Secretary Muhammad Ameen, Grand Mufti Abu Huraira, Majlis Ashura Chair Aleem Zainudin Bato, Eduard Guerra of Foreign Affairs, BIAF Vice Chief of Staff Sonny Davao, Omar Davao and BTC Commissioner Said Shiek.
The EU High Level Delegation included H.E. Ambassador Thomas Ossowski of Germany, H.E. Ambassador Josef Muellner of Austria, H.E. Ambassador Roland Van Remoortele of Belgium, H.E. Ambassador Massimo Roscigno of Italy, H.E. Charge’ d’Affaires Trevor Lewis of the United Kingdom, H.E. Charge’ d’Affaires Mihai Sion of Romania, H.E. Dy Head of Mission Jan Vaytopil of Czech Republic, H.E. Dy Head of Mission Hugues-Antoine Suin of France, H.E. Vicente Selles of Spain, Edoardo Manfredini, EU Programme Manager, and Ms Thelma Gecolea, Press Officer.
EU Ambassador Ledoux and MILF Chairman Murad noted the meeting as manifestation of the heightening commitment and cooperation by and between both parties to ensure the successful implementation of the Government of the Philippines (GPH) – MILF Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) signed in Malacanang last March 27, 2014.
Ambassador Ledoux commended both the government and MILF for the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro which he cited as a formulation for a meaningful autonomy that will work for the greater interests of the entire country.
The EU Ambassadors were almost all present during the historic signing of the GPH – MILF CAB that was witnessed by no less than His Excellency President Benigno Simeon Aquino III and His Excellency Malysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.
“The EU is fully committed to provide comprehensive technical expertise, funding support and development assistance for the success of the GPH – MILF Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro,” he stressed.
He also gave assurance to support the efforts and initiatives from various stakeholders and civil society organizations that bolster the success of the peace processes of the GPH – MILF CAB.
Chairman Murad, for his part, conveyed the gratitude of the MILF and the Bangsamoro for the strong participation and support of EU in the implementation processes of the GPH – MILF Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).
Murad stressed the priority programs of the MILF particularly during the transition period are on education, livelihood, health, infrastructure, and institutional and capacity development.
“The GPH – MILF CAB shall be an instrument in changing the lives of our people, of peace and prosperity, justice and unity, and ending violence through the entrenchment of good governance, democratic principles and a system fitting to the general welfare of the Bangsamoro,” he said.
He urged for development assistance and investments that will significantly help in the transformation of war ravaged and downtrodden communities in the Bangsamoro into peaceful and progressive region with promising prospects for a better future for its people regardless of race and religion.
Chairman Murad also hailed his Excellency President Aquino for the strong and unfaltering commitment to peace, development, unity and justice for the Bangsamoro and for the entire country.