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PIA Press Release

PGMA to inspect road projects in Basilan

Isabela City, Basilan (24 March) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo visits Tipo-Tipo today to inspect portion of the Basilan Circumferential Road Project that covers the rehabilitation of some 29.309 kilometers of road from Brgy Cabangalan, Tipo-Tipo to Brgy Canas in Maluso Section.

The project costs P57,153,520.79 (Phase 1) funded by the National Government through the Department of Public Works and Highways. The initial fund release is for the repair and rehabilitation of the all-weather road.

Project started January 7, 2010 for 120 working days with the P2 M advanced bv the implementing unit - the Joint Engineer Task Force "Kaunlaran Basilan"of the National Development Support Command, AFP composed of the Engineer Maintenance Support Battalion, 55th Engineering Brigade of the Philippine Army and the 1st Naval Mobile Construction Battalion of the Naval Construction Brigade of the Philippine Navy.

The scope of work for Phase 1 covers the road excavation, embankment, base preparations, aggregate base course, reconditioning of existing drainage, installation of reinforced concrete pipe culverts and installation of headwalls/wing walls. Phase 2 with estimated cost of P31,897,338.49 covers the concreting as the additional funds have yet to be released.

Tipo-Tipo, a 3rd class southeastern municipality of some 48,500 residents in Basilan province was the site of the 2007 Basilan gruesome killings where rogue elements of rebel groups beheaded 14 Philippine Marines. In August 13, 2009, government troops captured the erstwhile Abu Sayyaf main camp and nerve center in a bloody encounter that resulted in the death of 23 soldiers and wounded 26 others. Tipo-Tipo was reportedly the training ground of the female members and children, who due to poverty and illiteracy have been forced and recruited by the ASG in Basilan.

The President visited the Western Mindanao Command in Zamboanga City on August 15 last year and paid her last respects to the 23 slain soldiers and honored them with the posthumous Military Merit Medals and gave cash awards to the families of the fatalities and those injured in the clash. She also presided a command conference and ordered the annihilation of the ASG.

Government forces overran the rebel camp and then restored normalcy to the town following the President's humanitarian intervention program.

In keeping with the President's SONA commitments for peace and development in Mindanao and her interfaith dialogue, PGMA said "there is nothing more that I would wish for than peace in Mindanao. It will be a blessing for all its people - Muslim, Christian and lumads. It will show other religiously divided communities that there can be a common ground on which to live together in peace, harmony and cooperation that respects each other's beliefs."

The President also immediately ordered the construction of the P600-M Basilan Circumferential Road Project to spur economic growth in Basilan and its neighboring island provinces. The Basilan Circumferential Road Project serves as a major step in bringing prosperity in the island province even as government steps up its campaign against terrorism and lawlessness in conflict-stricken areas in the south as well as in ending the conflict.

The road projects hasten inter-provincial development through a balanced rural-urban relationship, being the main access of the island's interior barangays to alternative markets in the central town and the coastline cities of Lamitan and Isabela.

The project is part of the P2.2 Billion road projects programs in Mindanao, whose 51% of funding was loaned from the Saudi Fund for Development. The Saudi Fund for Development extended the loan to the Philippine Government for this project in October 2005 for 75 Million Saudi Riyals ($20 million or P1.078 billion) with a government counterpart funding of P1.118 billion. The detailed engineering design was completed in May last year and prequalification of contractors was done in September the same year.

The 86-kilometer phase of the Basilan Circumferential Road Project, which is part of the 135-kilometer circumferential road of Basilan province, has a construction cost of P765 Million and is divided into 6 sections, viz: Umayam (P5M) in Maluso; Lagayas (P10M) and Camalig (P10M) in Tipo-Tipo; Tumahubong (P5M), Canas-Cabcaban-Libug-Benembengan (P10M) and Abong-Abong Pali-Dikit (P10M) in Sumisip. Construction activities are on-going and being undertaken by DPWH-Region IX at Umayam and Lagayas sections and by local contractors at Canas-Cabcaban-Libug-Benembengan and Abong-Abong Pali-Dikit sections. Meanwhile, equipment are already mobilized on site at Camalig and Tumahubong Sections and detailed engineering works are underway and construction activities to be undertaken by AFP Engineering Brigade.

Starting with Isabela City, the project involves concreting of unpaved gap sections in two packages-- that pass through Lamitan City and the municipalities of Tuburan, Tipo Tipo, Sumisip, Lantawan and ends in Isabela City. Both packages were bidded out on March 4, 2009 and recommended for awarding to MGB Construction and Trading with the concurrence of Saudi Fund for Development last July 11.

Basilan's Farm-To-Market Road (FMR) Projects have been made possible through the GMA Program for Region IX and Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi. Completed FMRs cover some 23 kilometers of roads with the project cost of P 35 M in the towns of Lantawan (13 kms of FMRs) completing the Baungis to Km. 18 and the Baungis to Tairan in 2008, the gravelling and rehab of Matikang-Bulanza FMR in 2009 and the on-going improvement and re-gravelling of the Tairan-Lawila-Subaan FMR. The towns of Sumisip covers 9.76 kms of FMRs at the project cost of P10 M and the completed 4 kms. Boheh Baka to Mabeh FMR in Tipo-Tipo at P2.5 M.

Even during the construction stage, the road projects have already generated employment to local residents and helped alleviate poverty. It has greatly improved the peace and order situation and sped up delivery of services to the Basilenos. The circumferential road is expected to significantly reduce travel time in transporting goods, food crops, commercial crops, livestock, poultry and services to the residents. (OPS/PIA9-BST) [top]

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