KAUSWAGAN, Lanao del Norte -– Vice President Leni Robredo visited the Lanao provinces to listen to the stories of the farmers, specially the rebel returnees, on Thursday, July 7.
Robredo first dropped by Marawi City Thursday morning to thank her supporters there, and proceeded to Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte to talk with the former members of the Moro rebel groups who are now farmers through the town’s arms-to-farms program.
Initiated by Kauswagan Mayor Rommel Arnado, the arms-to-farms program was designed to promote peace in Mindanao and empower the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Moro National Liberation Front fighters to become food producers.
In the past years, Kauswagan has been one of the areas affected by armed conflict between government troops and the Moro rebels.
In her speech, Robredo yearned to visit the town, when Arnado told her about Kauswagan's transformation from being conflict-ridden to becoming Lanao's sustainable agriculture model.
“Their success should be an inspiration to others, (that what happened in Kauswagan) can be replicated elsewhere,” Robredo said.
Arnado said since the organic food production was initiated, the town's poverty incidence went down from 70 percent to around 30 percent at present.
For Ismael Sarip of the MILF Indirapatra Brigade, he decided to avail of the town's program and is reaping the harvest of his labor.
Sarip planted rice, coffee and various fruits at his two-hectare farm in Lininding, Lanao del Sur,
His three-month farm production training in Bukidnon helped him double his rice harvest from 35 to 70 sacks due to farming techniques he has acquired.
“When I was rebel, I used to carry firearms. Now my weapons are my farm tools. The arms-to-farms programs have really helped me and my family,” Sarip said.
In Marawi City, Robredo witnessed the mass oath-taking of the elected officials in the province and municipal levels before Regional Trial Court Judge Wenida Papandayan at the Provincial Capitol in time of the 57th founding anniversary of Lanao del Sur as a province. Governor Soraya Adiong and Vice governor Mamintal Adiong Jr. headed the celebration.
Robredo thanked the electorate in the province for the support they threw at her bid for the vice presidency.
Governor Adiong has vowed to curb the crime rate in the province including the proliferation of the prohibited drugs and work out in the promotion of agricultural tourism in the province instead.
When asked on her stand on death penalty, Robredo reiterated her opposition on its revival.
Robredo used to work at the Public Attorney's Office in her hometown before she was elected into Congress.