MANKAYAN, Benguet – Municipal, barangay officials and residents expressed their gratitude to the State-owned Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) for spearheading the construction of a P50 million evacuation and multipurpose center in the municipality that will serve as an added boost in enhancing the local government’s effective and efficient disaster risk reduction and management efforts during natural and man-made calamities that may strike anytime.
Mayor Frenzel Ayong stated that it is a dream come true for the people as it is the first time that the municipality will be the recipient of a multi-million project from a prestigious State gaming corporation that is well known in extending assistance to remote communities through its corporate social responsibility initiatives.
However, he pointed out that PAGCOR was not convinced to consider the municipality as the site of the project without the persistent representation of Benguet caretaker congressman and Anti-Crime and Terrorism through Community Involvement and Support (ACT-CIS) Party-list Rep. Eric Yap who lobbied for the inclusion of Mankayan as one of the sites for the noble projects of the gaming corporation.
Earlier, PAGCOR officials led by its Vice President for Corporate Social Responsibility Group Ramon Stephen Villaflor visited the municipality to break ground the proposed construction of the evacuation and multipurpose center within the 2,000-square meter property of the municipal government at sitio Bayoyo, Tabio to signal the start of the implementation of the said project following the completion of the procurement process that will be undertaken by the local government.
Mayor Ayong claimed that the implementation of the aforesaid project by the local government will open more opportunities for the municipality to be able to access more health and education-related projects from the gaming corporation in the future that will contribute in efforts of the municipality to network with other agencies and the private sector to help in the overall development of the locality.
Initially, PAGCOR downloaded to the municipal government some P25 million or 50 percent of the total project cost to jumpstart the implementation of the project that is programmed to be completed within one year.
The remaining balance of the project will be released on a staggered basis based on the accomplishment of the contractor to whom the implementation of the project will be awarded after the commencement of the procurement process that will be undertaken by the local government.
He underscored that the visit of the PAGCOR officials during the groundbreaking of the proposed construction of the evacuation center erased the misinformation being peddled by his detractors that he invited PAGCOR to put up a casino in the municipality because it is clear from the start that the project is an evacuation and multipurpose center. More importantly, the mayor explained that Mankayan is not qualified to have a casino so clearly such misinformation is just aimed at ruining his reputation in the eyes of the people to suit the personal and political interest of his critics and detractors.