Sultan Kudarat?s new capitol inaugurated

Sultan Kudarat Governor Datu Pax Mangudadatu said the provincial government wants the newly-completed structure as the main tourist destination of the province.

"This will be the symbol of our long time dream to transform the province into one the major economic centers of Mindanao within the next decade," the governor told reporters.    

The four-storey building, which virtually glitters with its gold-painted dome, stands on a 9.2 hectare land carved out of an oil palm plantation of Kenram Philippines Inc. along the national highway in Isulan town, the province's capital.    

The structure, which draws much influence in terms of architecture to government buildings in Malaysia, is equipped with two helipads, an elevator, a visitor's lounge and a prayer room for Muslims.      

An interior fountain, a chandelier and a vast garden fronting the building's façade are added attractions to this “tourist spot” which has become popular since it was first opened to the public in mid-October.     

Engr. Romeo Zaragoza, provincial planning and development office, said the local governments spent at least P380 million for the construction of the building and for its furniture and utilities.

He said the construction of the building started in November 2000 and was completed last September.   

Zaragoza said the project was funded out of the provincial government's P200 million loan from Land Bank of the Philippines, P10 million from the national government's Local Government Service Equalization Fund, P1 million from Senate President Manuel Villar and the rest from its own coffers.    

"The project is not yet 100 percent complete. We still have to install additional equipment such as the computerized time card and televised control systems," he said.

Mangudadatu said the new provincial government building's unique structure and amenities are based on their desire to establish a permanent home for the local government and at the same serve as a tourism facility.
"Its amenities were designed to give our visitors a VIP (very important person) treatment," he said.        

Local Governments Secretary Ronaldo Puno, who graced the building's inauguration, said the opening of the facility would help bring in more development opportunities for the province. 

He said the local government's ability to establish such modern infrastructure despite its limited resources manifests its readiness to handle major investments and development projects, especially those offered by foreign funding institutions.   

"I can see the logic behind this project. The local government wants to show to everybody that it can fully develop into a prime economic area if only given the proper support," Puno said.  

The new building is considered the province's first home since it was carved out of the old Cotabato empire province 33 years ago.

The province's ownership of the old provincial government complex in Isulan's Kalawag district was earlier disputed by the municipal government of Norala in South Cotabato claiming the area is part of the town.

Although still listed as one of the poorest provinces in the country, Sultan Kudarat's economic and trading activities have been improving of late.

The province is one of  Mindanao's top producers of rice, corn, beef, coffee, and vegetables.

Sultan Kudarat also has the largest grains-processing complex in the country and boasts of more than 200 rice mills in the area.

Its emerging fishing industry now contributes high quality tuna exported to Japan and Europe.