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Sabah border closure affecting ARMM residents

/ 01:06 AM April 25, 2016

DAVAO CITY—The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) is trying to  address the economic impact of Malaysia’s recent move of closing the border between Sabah and the Sulu archipelago.

The border closure was a result of  recent incidents of  kidnapping of foreigners in Sabah suspected by  Abu Sayyaf extremists whose  bases are in Sulu.

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Laisa Alamia, ARMM executive secretary, has ordered regional government  agencies to closely watch the prices and supply of basic commodities in Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, three ARMM provinces known to import a significant volume of prime commodities from Sabah.

Reports said the price of half a sack of rice had sore up to between P1,000 and  P1,200,  doubling its previous price, because of the blockade.

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Alamia ordered the  ARMM’s Department of Trade and Industry to intensify its weekly price  monitoring, particularly of rice and sugar in  the affected areas.

ARMM also asked the National Food Authority to ensure that rice  would be available in the three island provinces at regular prices, ranging from  P600 to P650 per half sack.

The ARMM has set up a task force to help repatriates from Malaysia and   ensure that services reach them on time, Alamia said. She said the ARMM was  tapping an initial P5 million from the ARMM governor’s special purpose fund  for this purpose.

We will work with the national government to reopen the border for trading,  she added.

ARMM’s Social Welfare Secretary Rahima Alba said that  around 25,000 households  in Tawi-Tawi were on “survival mode” because of the blockade.

She said her office had distributed some P36 million to  8,000  households in 35 barangays in Bongao, who are all beneficiaries of the  government’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps). She said the amount  came from the 2014 and 2015 4Ps budget.

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