Central Visayas’ Regional Development Council (RDC) on Friday unanimously approved the proposed Tamlang Valley Sustainable Agriculture for Growth and Resiliency (TVSAGR) project in Negros Oriental.
The third-quarter RDC full-council meeting was held in this capital city with governors, mayors, local officials, and government agencies in attendance.
The project, to be established in Tamlang Valley in the southern part of Negros Oriental, aims to make the province the region’s food basket and boost the administration’s food security and resiliency program.
The project, with a funding requirement of PHP1.46 billion, targets to increase agricultural, livestock, and aquaculture production; provide infrastructure facilities; and capacitate farmers and communities to become productive project partners.
For the smooth implementation of the project, Governor Manuel Sagarbarria earlier issued an executive order establishing the Tamlang Valley Management Council (TVMC) and the Tamlang Valley Project Management Office (PMO).
The TVMC is the policy-making body while the PMO serves as the secretariat and technical arm of the former.
In an interview with reporters after the RDC meeting, Sagarbarria said they would soon request the conversion of about 25,000 hectares of forestland in Tamlang Valley.
“I will try to ask (House of Representatives) Speaker Martin Romualdez to help us have the conversion of the land from forestal to agricultural,” he said.
Sagarbarria said some options are also being considered, such as passing it through the Office of the President for a presidential decree, Congress for legislation, or through the Department of Agrarian Reform.
“But the best option would be to go through Congress to make it permanent because the president can always change his mind anytime, whether it is the current or the next president,” he said.
Sagarbarria thanked the national agencies that supported the TVSAGR project, noting that the RDC endorsement plays a crucial role in its implementation.
Tamlang Valley, tagged as a “no man’s land” during the height of the communist insurgency in the late 80s and early 90s, straddles the boundaries of Sta. Catalina, Siaton, Valencia, Sibulan, and Pamplona.
Brig. Gen. Joey Escanillas, commander of the Philippine Army’s 302nd Infantry Brigade based in Tanjay City, Negros Oriental, welcomed the project, saying this would complement government efforts to end the insurgency in that part of the province.
“While there are still remnants of the New People’s Army in the south, we are prepared to provide security anytime, anywhere and the Tamlang Valley project will also definitely benefit the residents there,” he said. (PNA)