Cagayan Governor Manuel Mamba on Wednesday associated Muslims to peace and order issues while he was presenting proposals to help his province recover from Typhoon Ulysses.
“We do not have Muslims here. Wala kaming problema as far as peace and order is concerned here (We do not have problems as far as peace and order is concerned here),” Mamba said during the joint Senate committee hearing on the massive flooding in Luzon following Typhoon Ulysses.
The local official made the remark when he was briefing senators on the situation in Cagayan and appealed for help from the national government for the restoration of the Cagayan River.
“I hope you could help us now because our province in Northern Luzon has a very big advantage now. We are not only saving our people and our livelihood, we are saving the chance to be connected to biggest economies in Asia,” Mamba said.
“If we dredge the river, restore the Cagayan River to its old glory, I think Cagayan and the north will enjoy so much advantage as far as economic activities of Luzon is (sic) concerned.”
“We do not have Muslims here, wala kaming problema as far as peace and order is concerned here. And we could also see the interest of the Chinese, Taiwanese, South Koreans and the Japanese in the agricultural, aquaculture and even in the livestock industry of our province, not to include tourism industry po namin,” he added.
Mamba’s statement was apparently not noticed by senators who focused on the government’s plans to prevent the repeat of such disaster. Senator Emmanuel Pacquiao, who leads the Senate inquiry as chairman of the Senate public works committee, said he likes the governor’s proposal.
The Cagayan official pushed for the immediate dredging of the Cagayan River as he believes that it will spur economic activities not only in their province, but in the whole of northern Luzon.
“The [de]siltation of Cagayan River has now become our gold mine, too. Because everybody, in this part of the country, in this part of the world, ay interesado na rin po sa aming sand (are interested in our sand). Sobra-sobra para sa amin (We have an oversupply),” he said, saying several firms have offered to dredge the waterway.
“So we could dredge the entire river channel for free, and yet we also make money out of it dahil sa (because of the) quarry, the excise tax that they have to pay,” he added.
“We feel that if we restore our river we also open our port, and if we open our port, it is connected to the international trade, to the richest countries in Asia,” he continued.
Cagayan was among the areas most affected by the onslaught of Typhoon Ulysses about two weeks ago. Mamba said 41 of the 49 barangays of Tuguegarao City were submerged in floods.