Cordillera Gets P20-B ‘Build, Build, Build’ Infra Projects

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The Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) is getting a PHP20.612-billion budget for infrastructure projects this year, an official of the Department of Public Works and Highways said.

Engr. Clifton Valencerina, chief of the Construction Division of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in CAR said on Tuesday the asset preservation, which includes road reblocking, preventive maintenance, slope protection and overlay of roads to extend their life span and prevent damage, got the biggest chunk in the pie of the region’s infrastructure budget with an allocation of PHP8.121 billion.

Local projects, or those projects by the different local government units in the region that are funded and supported by the national government, have been allotted PHP4.977 billion.

Flood management projects were allotted PHP2.817 billion while convergence projects with the Department of Tourism providing roads to tourist destinations were allotted PHP2.176 billion.

The big-ticket projects of the region under the “Build, Build, Build” include the continuation of the BLISTT (Baguio-La Trinidad, Itogon, Sablan, Tuba, and Tublay) network project linking the area and the Apayao-Ilocos Norte Road, got PHP1.7 billion for the year.

Bridge projects for the year were allotted PHP709.4 million.

Excluding different bridge projects in the provinces, the province of Abra has the biggest allocation at PHP4.346 billion and Benguet with PHP3.075 billion. Apayao has PHP2.227 billion; Ifugao with PHP1.709 billion, Baguio City with PHP1.289 billion; Mountain Province with PHP1.745 billion.

The Upper and Lower Kalinga District Engineering offices have a combined budget of PHP2.826 billion.

Out of the 2,257.917 kilometers of national roads in CAR, only 132.52 kilometers have yet to be paved by asphalt or concrete.

DPWH-CAR regional director Tiburcio Canlas earlier said that as of October 2019, the Cordillera road network is 94 percent paved or equivalent of 2,125.39 kilometers.

In Abra, there are only 14.364 kilometers of gravel road to be paved to complete the 197.185 kilometers.

Apayao has 39.666 kilometers more to make the 360.09 kilometers road network paved; Benguet with only 9.280 kilometers left; Ifugao with 10.105 still to be paved; Kalinga with 30.135 and Mountain Province with 28.970 kilometers more to be paved.

In Baguio City, all the 112.108 kilometers of road networks have been paved.

Canlas said Abra and Apayao need more roads based on their land area.

Abra has 4,162.25 square kilometers of land area or a road density of .047 kilometers per square kilometer. Apayao, on the other hand, has 4,413.35 square kilometers of land area with a road density of .082 kilometers per square kilometer.

Aside from roads, there are 332 bridges in the Cordillera as of December 2019 with a total length of 13.790 kilometers. Out of the number, 214 of them are concrete bridges and 116 are steel.

Canlas said the six temporary bailey bridges have already been funded and are either ongoing construction or ready for implementation.

Citing DPWH records, Canlas said the “Build, Build, Build” program has created over 6,000 jobs in the region in 2019.

Cabinet Officer for Regional Development and Security for Cordillera and Agriculture Secretary William Dar earlier said conflict-affected areas and the Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Areas would be prioritized in the 2020 programs and projects, aimed at addressing the insurgency affecting poor communities. (PNA)