SADANGA, Mountain Province – The supposed bridge linking the remote village of Betwagan to the national road which was envisioned to contribute in spurring economic growth in depressed communities in the municipality was washed away by the rampaging waters of the Chico river at the height of Tropical Cyclone Ineng last month.
Mayor Gabino Ganggangan said the Betwagan Bridge was the biggest project received by the municipality from the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) under the Payapa at MasaganangPamayanan (Pamana) project which was an offshoot of the closure agreement between the government and the Cordillera Bodong Association Cordillera Peoples Liberation Army (CBA-CPLA) in 2011.
“This bridge is not merely another infrastructure project but was supposed to serve as a concrete monument that never again will the national government resurrect the rejected dam project along the Chico River that would result to the displacement of people and their sources of livelihood as well as from their ancestral domain. Unfortunately, it was washed away during the onslaught of Tropical Cyclone Ineng” Ganggangan stressed.
He said the bridge was supposed to be scheduled for inauguration on September 13, 2015 in time for the 29th anniversary of the signing of the famous Mount Data peace agreement signed between Fr. ConradoBalweg of the CPLA and former President Corazon C. Aquino where there was also an exchange of tokens between them.
Ganggangan pointed out the 61-lineal meter bridge which received the biggest allocation among the Closure Agreement projects being implemented regionwide will greatly help in bringing development to the countryside because people will now have easier access to growth centers that will contribute in improving economic activities of people and improving their sources of livelihood in the future.
Mayor Ganggangan reiterated his earlier argument in spearheading the closure agreement between the CPLA and the government considering that what was being closed was only the armed component of the struggle but the quest for legislation to address the concerns of Cordillerans for autonomy still remain until such time that Congress will be able to pass the autonomy law acceptable to the people.
The Betwagan bridge project was earlier funded with P21 million in 2011 and another P35 million in 2014 from the OPAPP in order to be completed in time for its scheduled inauguration but the onslaught of the natural calamity caused a temporary setback to the desire of the local residents for accessibility to development interventions.
Ganggangan said the unfortunate fate of the ongoing bridge construction that was supposed to spur economic growth was already appropriately documented by the municipal government and was subsequently submitted to concerned government agencies for their proper action with the hope that the bridge project will still be completed in the immediate future through the use of available national calamity funds or Presidential Social Fund.
He expressed disappointment that the product of hard work and painstaking efforts to source out funds for the bridge that will guarantee development in the countryside was erased by the onslaught of the weather disturbance. “This is a big frustration for our municipality especially to the people of Betwagan,” he said.