Press Release
September 12, 2007

First batch of 'Fruits of Hope' SOLD OUT in one hour at SM Supermarket

Hope for bringing development and peace in Sulu is flying high with "SOLD OUT" signs rising up just hours after the Fruits of Hope project delivered its first batch of fruits from Sulu to major supermarkets in Metro Manila.

SM's Marketing Manager Lea Lee reported that the fruits they had bought from Sulu sold out in just an hour and that they intended to buy more fruits as soon as possible.

Senator Richard J. Gordon, who had led private enterprises and government agencies in buying fruits from farmers in Sulu, said that he was currently making arrangements with freighting companies to transport more fruits out of Sulu.

The shipment of fruits from Sulu is an undertaking through a joint project called "Fruits of Hope" - named as such because it embodies the hopes of varied groups and sectors for peace and prosperity in Mindanao and Sulu. It is a joint initiative of the Philippine National Red Cross, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, the Provincial Government of Sulu, the Asia America Initiative, the Philippine Air Force, Rustan's, SM Supermarket, Robinsons Corporation, Nestle, and Shopwise.

Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan called Senator Gordon the 'Savior of Sulu' during a short program on Monday at the Jolo airport where the fruits from his province were being loaded onto the Philippine Air Force's C-130. Tan said that talk of development for his province had previously been on paper only until Senator Gordon visited Sulu in mid-August and began working on solutions to the problems confronting Sulu as a result of the government's all out offensive.

In a report on the situation in Sulu that Gordon sent to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, he requested that the Professional Regulatory Commission conduct exams for Sulu's teachers in Jolo and urged the Department of Trade and Industry to find markets for Sulu's products. He also called on the Executive Department to beef up social services in Sulu, saying that by simply neglecting the provision of basic government services the government would lose its fight against extremists and lawless elements.

Gordon has since called for people to stop talking about and treating the province of Sulu, Basilan, and other areas in Mindanao as war zones.

"In the end, when the people of these provinces suffer, we as a nation suffer. When we call Sulu a war zone, the world treats the entire Philippines as a war zone. We must approach Sulu, Basilan, and other provinces in Mindanao with more daring and more compassion. We must bring development to these provinces, not as a reward, but as the vital pre-condition to peace," said Gordon.

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