Just a few days before the mid-term elections on Monday, local rubber growers from North Cotabato City witnessed the formal launching of Pilipinas Agila Tires, a 100% locally sourced and produced tire maker at the Balindog Research and Experiment Station in Kidapawan City.
This is actually a fruit of the Department of Agriculture's hard work that started in 2017, including a trip to a tire manufacturing facility in Pirkkala, Finland, that produces tires for the world's top 5 tire companies, as well as a partnership with Leo Tire Manufacturing Corporation in Valenzuela City to produce tires made from locally sourced materials from Filipino rubber farmers.
Department of Agriculture Secretary Manny Pinol during a 2017 visit to Black Donut tire factory in Pirkkala, Finland
“This is the way to go.” said Secretary Pinol. “We cannot resolve the low prices of raw materials if we do not learn how to process. We should complete the market chain from production, processing, and marketing which is the concept of Pilipinas Agila Tires,” Secretary Piñol added.
For now, Agila tires will be produced for small motorcycles, particularly the utilitarian habal-habal motorcycles commonly found in the provinces. These habal-habal, are motorcycles retrofitted with several “upgrades” to carry more than 2 passengers, much like a jeepney; or to carry goods especially in the hard to reach areas in the provinces where public utility vehicles are scarce or none at all. The habal-habal drivers who were in attendance expressed their delight and excitement over the locally produced tire that will soon be made available in their province.
File photo where Secretary Pinol holds a finished product of one of the early batches of Leo Tires made from 100% locally produced rubber
The Agila Tires are planned to be made available in motorcycle shops and gasoline stations around the province and will be sold at a lower price compared to its competitors. “We will make sure that it will be better if not the same quality as the commercial tires available in the market,” Secretary Piñol said. The Department of Agriculture, through the Philippine Rubber Farmers' Association (PRFA) also has plans to produce tires for cars, vans, SUVs, and trucks in the near future. Hopefully, they could also produce a wide range of motorcycle tires for all the motorcycle models we have, including dirtbikes.