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by Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol

Chairman, Mindanao Development Authority

Malabang, Lanao del Sur - One of Mindanao's oldest agricultural companies established in the 1900s by American Thomasites and two municipalities in Lanao del Sur were connected to the banking network for the first time yesterday with the installation of three Automated Teller Machines (ATM) by the Development Bank of the Philippines.

DBP President Emmanuel Herbosa, along with officials of the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA, signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the Mayors of Balabagan and Malabang, Lanao del Sur and officials of the Matling Industrial Commercial Corporation (MICC).

MICC, established in the 1900s by a member of the American Thomasites, Ralph Edmund Spencer, processes Cassava Starch from Cassava produced by the company and the farmers in several towns of Lanao del Sur.

The establishment of the ATMs yesterday was the culmination of the effort of the Mindanao Development Authority to address the problems of Cassava farmers and the residents of several towns who had to travel for about 100 kilometers to either Pagadian City or Cotabato City for their bank transactions.

Farmers who were paid by MICC with checks had these rediscounted with money exchange outlets in the area who charged a 5% transaction fee.

Last year, when I visited MICC, this problem was brought to my attention and immediately a team was formed to work on the proposal to establish either a branch of DBP or at least an ATM in the area.

When the mayors of Malabang, Mohammad Yahya Macapodi, and Balabagan, Dr. Edna Ogka-Benito, learned of the MinDA efforts to establish an ATM in the MICC, they submitted resolutions that separate ATMs be installed in their municipalities.

The Mayors hailed the immediate action of DBP and the help of MinDA which resulted in the establishment of the ATMs both installed inside the municipal building.

"I actually talked to two previous Presidents about this problem and nothing happened. It is only now under this administration that we finally have this," MICC Chief Executive Officer Alex Mancilla told me yesterday during the inauguration of the MICC ATM.

Mancilla said there were attempts in the past to establish bank branches in Malabang but all of these failed.

"One bank opened in the 1990s and after three days, it closed. Land Bank operated for three months, then they left," he said.

Ace Mancilla-Gaccad, Chief Operations Officer of MICC, said she never believed her dream of a banking facility in the area to help their farmer-producers and the company as well would ever come true.

The actual work on the ATM project was started late last year but the actual site inspection was done in August at the height of the COVID 19 pandemic.

The Western Command under Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan and the Philippine National Police under Brig. Gen. Samuel Rodriguez were engaged, along with the Philippine Marines, to provide security support.

The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) through the Office of the Chief Minister, Ahod Murad Ebrahim, was also engaged in the project.

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