Panaon Island circumferential road nears completion
By Bong Pedalino
Liloan-San Ricardo, Eastern side, Southern Leyte (Dec. 5) -- The long-cherished Panaon loop -- a stretch of road that connects the pacific side of this two towns that are located poles apart in Panaon island, this province -- is no longer a dream.
Or put another way, this dream is now drawing closer and closer to reality.
Nerio Sereno, a coconut farmer in his fifties residing in barangay Saub, San Ricardo, knew quite well the meaning of this vision.
For him, this can help reduce considerably the high transportation costs every time he processed his copra at nearby barangay San Ramon, also of San Ricardo, and bring it to the nearest copra trader in Liloan or to Sogod town, depending on which trader offered a higher price.
And that is what matters most.
"I already knew long time ago that this road in this part of the island from Liloan to San Ricardo will be connected. In fact, I look forward to that day, so that I can lessen transport expenses every time I harvest coconuts and deliver the dried copra," Sereno said in bisaya.
Construction of trail-blazing road networks here has been ongoing year in and year out, obviously to keep pace with the fully concreted other side of the Panaon highway on the western side, from Liloan passing through the municipalities of San Francisco, Pintuyan, which has been cemented in 2007 under the 23rd yen loan package.
In April this year, the Benit ferry terminal in San Ricardo was inaugurated by no less than President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, another landmark development.
Beyond barangay Benit, the highway was only up to barangay Pinut-an. But Engr. Manolo Rojas, Chief of Construction Division at the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), told PIA that after Pinut-an, the road is already possible up to the next two barangays of Kinachawa and Looc.
Then from Liloan, starting from barangay San Roque, Anilao up to the last barangay of Bahay, the road is already passable even as construction has been ongoing -- until the first barangay of San Ricardo, barangay Saub, leaving just about a kilometer of rocky cliff that separates Saub and barangay San Ramon, then to Looc, Kinachawa, Pinut-an.
Rojas said the San Ricardo approach of this circumferential road was built at a cost of P 16 Million for a two kilometer road opening up to Kinachawa and Looc, while the approach from Liloan of this same circumferential road was built for P 20 Million, bulldozing wide open a 1,900 linear meter road opening, until reaching barangay Saub.
Fund sources for this two end-to-end-route projects, totaling P 36 Million, was taken from the calamity fund of the national government, Rojas said.
But even after exhausting this calamity fund, the circumferential road has been assured of continuous work, because this has been included already in the multi-year congressional initiatives of Cong. Roger Mercado, where the DPWH will be receiving a budget of P 20 Million until its completion, Rojas added.
In fact, next year the DPWH will start blasting the only remaining kilometer-long rocky cliff, the portion that gaps Saub and San Ramon, Rojas further said.
Mr. Sereno and the other industrious people in the island like him have every reason to be hopeful that one day in the not so distant future they can travel by land in any route they feel most convenient. (PIA-Southern Leyte) [top]