DavNor gov pushes for development of Samal Island as investment haven

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/06 October) — Smarting from the fallout of the Sept. 21 kidnapping in Samal Island, Davao Del Norte governor Rodolfo del Rosario has pushed for development plans that will position the province’s main tourist attraction as an investment haven in Mindanao.

In his message during the Brunei, Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asean Growth Area Trade and Tourism Investment Forum in this city on Monday, del Rosario described Samal Island “as a true gem waiting to be polished”.

He cited the Local Governance Support Program for Local Economic Development as a necessary tool to drive development in the island.

“We are grateful since the LGSP-LED-funded Open Beach Project particularly in Talikud Island, which is Samal’s biggest islet, is now helping us attain inclusive growth in the city. We have already started to prepare a quality skilled workforce that is able to meet the demands of investors and the increase of tourist arrivals in the island,” he said.

As a model in sustainable tourism, Talikud Island received some P5.8 million through the LGSP-LED, an $18-million project supported by the Canadian government in partnership with the Department of Interior and Local Government.

The place was among the third batch of recipients under LGSP-LED from 2014 to 2016

Del Rosario further said that if construction of the Samal Bridge would push through under the public-private partnership scheme, it will draw investments and tourism to the island.

Among the projects the governor wished to enroll under the PPP scheme are the P280-million Talikud Island Resorts Development Project, P665-million upgrading of Talikud Circumferential Road, P17-million Talikud Island Integrated Potable Water System (Level 3), P20-million Integrated Renewable Energy Solutions forTalikud Island, and P45-million construction of San Isidro Wharf.

These projects are seen to strengthen island’s infrastructure and interconnectivity.

In Talikud, he said there are 57 open properties with a combined area of 400 hectares, which are potential for tourism and investment.

“More than 80 percent of these properties are for sale. We are also looking for investments not just capital gains but rental prospects, as well,” he added.

Del Rosario also noted Davao del Norte’s proximity to Davao City, Mindanao’s most progressive city and the island’s gateway to the world with its international airport.

“Our proximity to the Davao International Airport (F. Bangoy International Airport) and seaport is complemented by a number of private ports, including two international container terminals,” he said.

The province houses two modern ports namely, the Davao International Container Terminal, of the Anflocor Group of Companies, and the Hijo Port, of the Hijo Resources Corporation.

Del Rosario assured that security in Samal has been beefed up with a comprehensive security plan “to ensure safety of both tourists and investors in the island.”

Last Sept. 21, around a dozen armed men believed to be linked to the Abu Sayyaf arrived at Holiday Oceanview Resort and kidnapped Kjartan Sekkingstad, 56, a Norwegian, and Canadian nationals John Ridsdel, 68, and Robert Hall, 50, and Hall’s Filipina partner Maritess Flor.

The abductors took them to Sulu, according to Davao City mayor Rodrigo Duterte, who is also chair of the Regional Peace and Order Council. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)