Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Ismael Sueno said Chinese investors want to set up a 6,000-hectare tea plantation in the Philippines, specifically in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
“They (Chinese agriculture officials) want to get on with the production of the tea, and they have found a right place in the Philippines. You know where that place is? That’s in Mindanao,” Sueno said in a statement Monday, November 7.
Sueno, who was part of President Rodrigo Duterte’s government delegation during his China visit, said Chinese agriculture officials told him that they have found a suitable place for the world-class tea plantation in the ARMM. The contaminated soil in China, according to the Chinese officials, is not suitable for the tea plantation they have in mind.
GMA News Online notes that the site is within the controlled territory of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
The Interior secretary said he will meet with the leaders of the MILF to discuss with them the plan of the Chinese officials, including the chairman of the Bank of China, to help the people of Mindanao.
“I will go to the (MILF) commanders, to the governor, and the mayors in the area and talk to them in order to protect them. This will be a world-class tea plantation. One kilo will cost about $10,000,” Sueno said.
The Chinese investors are well aware that the prospective tea plantation is within an MILF community, Secretary Sueno said.
“Sabi nila na bahala na [They said they don’t care even] if they lose 1 billion yuan basta [as long as] they have attempted to help the people in Mindanao,” he said.