Sunday, August 17, 2014

Philippine Gov't rebuilding ancient 'Chinese pier' in Tawi-tawi

By John Unson (

Hadji Emil Sadain, regional public works secretary of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (left), leads regional officials in inspecting the on-going improvement of an old, historic Chinese trading pier in Bongao, Tawi-Tawi. John Unson

COTABATO CITY, Philippines — An old "Chinese pier" in Tawi-Tawi is being rebuilt by government to revive an ancient trading network connecting seafaring traders from island towns to the capital of the province.

The reconstruction of the historic Chinese pier in Bongao island, seat of the provincial government, is sourced from a P75 million development allocation from the 2013 and 2014 infrastructure budget of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

The pier, originally built at the main seaside trading center in Bongao town, is a major entry point for products and people coming from island towns in Tawi-Tawi and from Sabah, Malaysia.

The ARMM's Department of Public Works and Highways is presently constructing a 400-meter long watercraft berthing spot at the Chinese pier, and a concrete bridge and road that would connect the facility to the Bongao seaport, where bigger cargo and passenger boats dock.

The DPWH-ARMM has earmarked P50 million for next year's improvement of the newer and larger Bongao seaport.

Hadji Emil Sadain, regional secretary of DPWH-ARMM, said the old Chinese pier is also known as the "circumferential docking area" in Bongao owing to its lengthy stretch that straddles through seaside trading sites.

The Chinese pier connects to the Ridjiki Boulevard in Bongao, which leads to the municipality’s bigger seaport in the west of the island town.

"This old Chinese pier was destroyed by strong waves in the 1970s. The ARMM government is fixing it now to accelerate the economic growth of Tawi-Tawi," Sadain said.

He added that the DPHW-ARMM is grateful to Tawi-Tawi Gov. Nurbert Sahali and his sister, Rep. Ruby Sahali, for their support of efforts to improve the Chinese pier.

Sadain, accompanied by Assistant Secretary Numeiry Jalani of the ARMM's services convergence office for the Basilan-Sulu-Tawi-Tawi (Basulta) area, inspected the project site last Thursday.

Sadain said he is satisfied with how the project is being implemented. He said he will report his findings on Monday to ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman.

Hataman, to ensure transparency, even enlisted the help of various non-government organizations and different media outfits in the monitoring of the project, Sadain said.

Bongao Mayor Jasper Que, whose office is helping oversee the project, said his constituent-merchants in Bongao are anticipating dramatic improvements in the local economy once the Chinese pier’s improvement is complete.

The business communities in Bongao, known as the country's "southern backdoor," and those in surrounding island municipalities, have robust, centuries-old trade links with merchants in Sabah, Malaysia and in Indonesia.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

641 Filipinos deported from Sabah — report

August 17, 2014 8:43am

 Some 641 illegal Filipino immigrants in Sabah were deported to the Philippines last Friday, a Malaysian news site reported on Sunday.

A report on Malaysia's The Star Online Sunday said the deportees boarded a passenger ferry bound for Zamboanga City in Mindanao.

The 641 included 293 men, 188 women and 160 children, aged one month to 75 years. The report said this was the largest deportation exercise so far this year.

A convoy of 22 buses took the deportees from the Temporary Detention Center in Sibuga to the Sandakan seaport.

Meanwhile, Sabah/Labuan Special Task Force director Rodzi Md Saad said another 3,558 illegal immigrants are staying at temporary detention centers in Papar, Sandakan and Tawau.

Rodzi said the Special Task Force had deported 12,100 illegal immigrants between January and Aug 15.

These included 9,368 Filipinos and 2,569 Indonesians. “The number of illegals deported is considered high compared with 13,222 last year and 12,551 in 2012,” he said.

Rodzi said another 4,000 people would likely be deported by the end of 2014. Joel Locsin /LBG, GMA News