TAWI-TAWI, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / July 3, 2009) – The local government of Simunul in the province of Tawi-Tawi has entered into Memorandum of Agreement on a project that would boost economic condition of the island-municipality, site of a proposed industrial and oil tank park.
The multi-billion euro project dubbed as the “Simunul Industrial and Oil Tank Park“ was signed by Mayor Benzar N. Tambut of Simunul and REBC Builders and Development Corporation headed by its president, Engineer Reynaldo Esplanada and its foreign counterpart, American Advance Group (AAG) led by its president, Mohamed Hamouda.
Simunul on Wednesday celebrated its 51st anniversary.
Mayor Tambut said the project is expected to generate 10,000 jobs and improve education and health services; strengthens spiritual and cultural identities; protection and development of natural resources; conservation and preservation of a balance eco-system and tourism development.
“It would also protect and develop natural resources, including the conservation and preservation of a balance eco-system and tourism development” he added.
The huge project covers a 200-tank farm, power plant, domestic airport, hotel and resort, land transportation system, potable water source, reforestation and landscaping, information technology and telecommunications, road and bridges development, solid waste management facility, golf course, industrial storage and processing facility, power transmission facility, hospital facility, schools, commercial district and jetty and ports.
In his speech during the Wednesday signing of the MOA, Mohamed Hamouda said they will do their best to help develop the island of Simunul into one of the best in the southern Philippines. “We are here not only to develop your place but help shape and form a sound mind, skilled and a sound mind,” Hamouda said.
A groundbreaking ceremony is expected at any time soon.
Simunul Island, one of the smallest inhabited islands in the country, is set to be the next "Dubai" in Southeast Asia, officials said. Though slight in land mass, the people are well-off in natural resources and the island was the cradle of Islam in the Philippines.
The first Muslims in the Philippines led by Sheik Karimul Makhdum are said to have arrived at Simunul in 1380 and built the first Mosque now called the Sheik Karimal Makdum Mosque.
It is the most significant piece of architecture in Simunul and the oldest found in the Philippines which is host to tens of thousands of pilgrims from neighboring countries and Mindanao. Although it has been worn by the ravages of time, its pillars still stand to this day. Simunul has a zero crime rate. (Amilbahar Mawallil and Dayang Babylyn Kano Omar)