PGMA orders initial release of P50-M for Basilan road project
Zamboanga City (4 September) -- President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has ordered the initial release thru the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) the amount of P50 million to jumpstart the construction of the 86-kilometer circumferential road (CR) in Basilan Province.
This initiative is in consonance with the "humanitarian invasion" in Basilan and Sulu that the president launched last week, which seeks to dovetail needed development efforts together with continuing security operations.
Secretary Jesus Dureza, Presidential Adviser on Peace Process who was also designated to head the Health, Education, and Livelihood Progress or HELP for Basilan and Sulu said the funds released will be used for the construction of the road which is the main artery of Basilan Province.
Dureza recently visited Basilan to assess the effects on civilians of the ongoing military offensive in the area. He also met with provincial officials and concerned regional heads.
Dureza stressed the road project will enhance the movement of goods and people in the island, which is currently weighed down by series of military operations in pursuit of the Abu Sayyaf bandits.
The 86-kilometer road project is actually a part & parcel of the 135-kilometer circumferential road of Basilan Province of which 76 kilometers of the CR have already been paved.
DPWH -ARMM Assistant Secretary Dimas Soguilon revealed the Basilan CR project is under the P2.2 billion road projects allotted for Mindanao. He further said, of the total amount set aside for the purpose, 51 percent of the funding was loaned from the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD).
Sec. Soguilon said the Saudi government has pledged $20million loan for road projects in Mindanao which is payable in 20 years.
Dureza bared the bulk of the fund is expected to be released next year yet "but the President cannot wait and immediately ordered the DPWH to release an initial fund of P50 million to start the road project here."
Other road projects include the Lanao Lake Circumferential Road and the Cotabato Diversion roads, said Subair Diron, project director, Saudi Fund for Development.
Diron enumerated, the Basilan road project has a construction cost of P756 million; the 91 kilometer Lanao Lake CR has a total budget of P773 million and Cotabato Diversion Roads with P667 million to pave the 11.80 kilometer road.
He said the government is projecting to finish all the three road projects in 2010.
Meanwhile, Task Force Thunder Gen Juancho Sabban said the military is sending three engineering battalions- Air Force Engineering Battalion, Naval Construction Brigade and Army Engineering Battalion to provide needed labor and equipment for the construction of the said road project in Basilan.
The Department of Agriculture (DA) Regional Director Oscar Parawan said, some P1million worth of live cows will be delivered to Sulu and Basilan provinces to help in the livelihood of farmers in the area affected by the on going armed conflict.
The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) said the agency was also tasked to assess the costal areas of Basilan suitable for high value fishes. (PIA Z.C.) [top]