MANADO, North Sulawesi, Indonesia – President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo inaugurated Friday (May 15) the PT International Alliance Food Indonesia, a Filipino-owned tuna canning plant in Bitung, North Sulawesi.
The inauguration of the plant which is the Philippines’ only publicly-listed tuna-canning enterprise was held at the VVIP Room of the Sam Ratulangi International Airport here before the President flew back to the Philippines.
The 1 p.m. event followed President Arroyo’s luncheon meeting with the Filipino community at the Grand Ballroom of the Ritzy Hotel in downtown Manado.
Sulawesi Utara Governor Sinyo Harry Sarundajang welcomed to the inauguration President Arroyo and her delegation which included Press Secretary Cerge Remonde, Environment Secretary Jose Atienza, Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo, and other government officials.
Governor Sarundajang’s welcome remarks were followed by the speech of Indonesia Minister of Marine Affairs and Fisheries Freddy Numberi who gave an overview of the fisheries situation in North Sulawesi as he hoped that the Filipino investment in Bitung “will benefit both countries, and especially North Sulawesi.”
The inauguration was capped by the signing by President Arroyo with gold ink the giant metal plaque that proclaims, “By the grace of our Lord, a new era of cooperation dawns with the inauguration of PT International Alliance Food Indonesia in Bitung, North Sulawesi on 15 May 2009.”
Jonathan Dee, Alliance Tuna president and chief executive officer, said the 60-ton-per-day Sulawesi plant augments the company’s cannery in General Santos City which packs 140 tons of tuna per day.
The President – who returned to the country after the ceremonial inauguration — was in Manado on Thursday (May 14) and Friday to attend the Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI) Summit 2009 at the Grand Kawanua Convention Center.
In her statement at the CTI Summit, President Arroyo revealed to the CTI member nations and development partners that the BIMP-EAGA – the East Asia growth area covering Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines – is “pursuing the establishment of a joint fisheries consortium among our private sectors.”
“We are pursuing the adoption of policies that call on the tuna industry to share the costs of caring for tuna spawning grounds in the Coral Triangle.
“Funding and technical assistance is being provided by the Global Environment Facility or GEF, the Asian Development Bank, and the Australian and United States governments, among others,” the President revealed.
“International non-governmental organizations such as Conservation International, the Nature Conservancy and the Worldwide Fund for Nature are also joining forces to work with the Coral Triangle governments in pursuing the regional plan of action as well national action plans,” the President added.