CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY-- President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday asked China to give priority to the development of the agricultural industry in Bukidnon, a landlocked province in Northern Mindanao and the country's eighth largest province.
President Duterte arrived at the Provincial Capitol of Bukidnon in Malaybalay City as an honored guest of the province's Kaamulan Festival, an annual project of the provincial government designed to lure both domestic and foreign tourists and for the groundbreaking of the largest drug rehabilitation center in Mindanao.
He arrived in Bukidnon Saturday noon and delivered an impromptu speech after Bukidnon Governor Jose Maria Zubiri introduced him to a cheering crowd of about 50,000 people.
In his speech monitored by the Cagayan de Oro-based Magnum Radio, President Duterte asked Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua to extend to Bukidnon China's first agricultural assistance to the Philippines.
The President expressed elation over the presence of Ambassador Jianhua, something which seldom happened in the past.
"I would like to take this rare opportunity to ask Ambassador Jianhua to bring the first agricultural tractor to Bukidnon in order that the province's agricultural industry could be developed to the fullest," he said.
The President also encouraged the people of Bukidnon to plant crops that could be exported to China, saying that China no longer restricts agricultural products from the Philippines.
He said China currently accepts 100 percent all bananas exported from the Philippines while pineapple exports to China stand at 75 percent.
"China would buy all agricultural products from the Philippines and it is high time that the country's agricultural industry take the opportunity to plant any agricultural product for export," President Duterte said.
The Chief Executive recounted that when the country was exporting its produce to the United States, the US government would impose product standards, leading to the rejection of the Philippine exports.
However, when the Philippines began exporting its produce to China, the US also began accepting the country's crops.
"Actually, we remain friends with the United States, but we should not rely so much on Americans anymore because we have close friends, neighbors like China," President Duterte pointed out.
Before leaving for Davao City after his speech, the President led the groundbreaking ceremony of the PHP700-million Drug Rehabilitation Center in Casisang village at the outskirts of Malaybalay City. The proposed drug rehabilitation center, the largest in Mindanao, would house an administration building, three dormitories, training centers, gymnasium and three basketball courts when completed in December.
He said he directed the construction of the drug rehabilitation center in Bukidnon to make the center accessible to neighboring provinces and cities, such as Cagayan de Oro City and Davao City.
Source: Philippines News Agency