BAGUIO CITY – President Rodrigo R. Duterte ordered Public Works Secretary Mark Villar to work out the funding for the completion of major infrastructure projects in the different parts of the Cordillera amounting to some P5.2 billion.
The President gave the directive to Secretary Villar at the close of the meeting of the Cordillera leaders with the Chief Executive at the Malacanang Palace Tuesday night which drew a loud round of applause from the local officials.
Earlier, Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan, who also chairs the Regional Development Council (RDC-CAR) and the Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) in the Cordillera, reported to the President that there are still more than 138.3 kilometres of unpaved national and local roads around the region which impede the smooth transport of goods inside and outside the region.
Of the unpaved road, he said 93.3 kilometres are national roads located in the provinces of Apayao, Abra, Kalinga, Ifugao and Mountain Province while 45 kilometres are classified as local roads.
He added the priority projects identified under the Cordillera Roads Improvement Project (CRIP), the blueprint for the development of major roads and bridges in the different parts of the region.
The President told the visiting Cordillera leaders and officials of government line agencies to closely coordinate with Secretary Villar for the inclusion of the projects in the priority programs of agency in the coming years to address needs of the local governments with still unpaved roads.
Secretary Villar responded that some of the listed projects have already been included for funding in the 2018 proposed national budget while the public works department is trying to work out the sources of funds for the unfunded projects or the list of projects will instead be included for funding in the 2019 annual budget of the present administration.
Benguet Rep. Ronald M. Cosalan, former chairman of the House committee on public works and highways, emphasised the region needs the implementation of more infrastructure projects to help improve inter-municipality, inter-provincial and inter-regional linkages for the immediate transport of goods from the farms to the markets thus improving the income of farmers.
He explained the construction of roads in mountainous terrains like the Cordillera is been pegged at P40 million per kilometre, inclusive of the appropriate drainage systems and slope protection walls, compared to the P25 million needed to build roads in the lowlands, thus, concerned government agencies need to infuse more funds to develop more roads that will inter-connect the remote communities of the region.
The CRIP was crafted in the early 1990s to serve as one of the bases for government agencies and local governments in prioritising the development of major national roads, secondary national arterial roads and local roads.
By Dexter A. See