JULY 3, 2006 (OFFICE OF THE PRESS SECRETARY, MALACANANG) President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo led this morning the inauguration of the P31-million, two-storey Kapatagan Municipal Hall as part of the commemorative ceremonies marking the 57th anniversary of this town.

The President was assisted by Lanao del Norte Gov. Imelda Dimaporo, Rep. Abdullah Dimaporo and Kapatagan Mayor Ben Baguio in the ribbon cutting ceremony and the unveiling of the marker.

The President, who visited this agricultural town for the first time, was given a tour of the new municipal building.

The construction of the municipal hall started in March 2005, through the assistance of the Department of Interior and Local Government-Basic Mindanao Urban Sector Services Project (DILG-BMUSSP).

The project was financed with a loan from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the local government's counterpart fund.

The inauguration of the new municipal hall coincided with the 57th founding anniversary of the Municipality of Kapatagan which was created by virtue of Executive Order No. 237 issued by the late President Elpidio Quirino in July 1949.

Kapatagan is a 4th class municipality with a population of almost 50,000. Agriculture is the main source of income of the people.

Some 1,000 Kapatagan residents braved the heat outside the municipal building as they waited for the President's arrival.

President Arroyo waved at them as she said, "Kumusta kayo?" before proceeding with the inaugural ceremonies.

The President was accompanied by Presidential Management Staff (PMS) Chief Arthur Yap and Agrarian Reform Secretary Nasser Pangandaman.

The President arrived here at about 10 a.m. and held a private meeting with local officials.

PGMA commends Lanao Del Norte officials for lower poverty percentage

TUBOD, Lanao del Norte -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo commended today the officials of Lanao del Norte for the lower poverty percentage it posted this year as she noted the great progress that is happening in the province.

"I would like to congratulate your governor for the big progress in Lanao del Norte that I've seen," the President said in her message during the culmination program of the 47th Araw ng Lanao del Norte held at the Mindanao Civic Center Gymnasium here.

The President noted that in 1992, poverty level in the province was pegged at 67 percent and after 14 years, it has gone down to 47 percent.

"It is 20 percent improvement," she said in the Visayan dialect.

But the President said this poverty percentage must be improved further with at least one percent reduction every year.

She said the Metro Iligan Infrastructure Project worth P1.5 billion would further improve the lives of the people in Lanao del Norte and thus realize the one percent a year decrease in poverty level.

The President instructed Presidential Management Staff (PMS) Secretary Arthur Yap to help the remaining barangays in Lanao del Norte without electricity as she underscored the need to complete the electrification of all barangays in the province.

She also noted the provincial government's achievement in the coverage of health insurance where 49,000 poor families have been given health insurance.

The President said the next project for good health services for the residents of this province is the construction of a secondary hospital to benefit more poor families.

"What is important is the availability of food, medicines and other low-priced goods," the President said as she asked the people of Lanao del Norte "to unite and cooperate for progress."

The Chief Executive also said that Mindanao would be developed as the center for agribusiness investments. She added that this would be mapped out next week at the 4th cluster of the Mega Regions Joint Cabinet and Regional Development Council meeting in Davao City.

"Let us use this celebration to win the war against poverty and terrorism," the President said.

She gifted Lanao del Norte residents with scholarships, certificates of land ownership, health kits and "Tindahan Natin" certificates.

The President, assisted by Gov. Imelda Dimaporo and Rep. Abdullah Dimaporo, gave out checks amounting to P142,750 as partial tuition subsidy for the Private Education Student Fund Assistance (PESFA) to grantees of the Technical Vocational Institutions.

She distributed 127 CLOAS covering 323.8 hectares in 10 municipalities of Lanao del Norte with 190 farmer beneficiaries.

Three certificates of award of Tindahan Natin were also given out and 74 Botika ng Barangay kits worth P367,608 were distributed to the municipalities of Kapatagan, Bacolod, Baroy, Lala, Kauswagan and Sultan Naga Dimaporo.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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