DPWH hikes budget for Cordillera roadwork

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THE TERRAIN where government constructs roads in the Cordillera, like this stretch in Benguet, convinced authorities to raise the road budget for the upland region. EV ESPIRITU/INQUIRER NORTHERN LUZON

BAGUIO CITY—Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson has doubled the 2013 infrastructure budget for repaving national roads in the Cordillera to help speed up road improvement in the upland region, an official of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) here said.

Edilberto Carabbacan, DPWH regional director, said Singson raised the P3.3 billion programmed this year for the next set of national road repavement projects to P6.6 billion.

From this new budget, Apayao is entitled to P1.6 billion, making it the province with the biggest outlay in the country this year, Carabbacan told reporters on Wednesday.

Last year, Carabbacan told former Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Cayetano Paderanga Jr. that the average allocation for mountain roads would enable the regional office to complete only 100 kilometers of the annual target of 175 kilometers. He said mountain road construction is more expensive and complicated because of the terrain.

The Cordillera has a total national road length of 1,931.205 km, but the 2011 Regional Project Monitoring and Evaluation System report showed that only 46.56 percent (899.277 km of the Cordillera Road Improvement Project) had been paved.

Carabbacan said 60 percent of the region’s roads have since been paved.

He said Singson inspected the pace of road repairs in Baguio and the Cordillera on March 15. The secretary, he said, has been concerned about public reaction to road repairs as tourists flock to the summer capital.

Motorists have complained that newly concreted portions of major roads like Marcos Highway are being repaved even if there was no need to repave them.

DPWH is also implementing tourism-oriented road projects worth P1 billion to benefit various travel destinations identified by the Department of Tourism, Carabbacan said.

One of these projects is the 8.5-km road to the Sumaguing Cave, the most popular tourist spot in Sagada, Mt. Province, which Singson had suspended in December 2012 when the town council complained that the route traverses Madepdepas village of neighboring Sabangan town, instead of the route near the Bontoc village of Balili which also leads to Balangagan Cave and the Pongas Falls.

Carabbacan said endorsements from the Regional Development Council and other agencies persuaded Singson to proceed with the project using the Madepdepas road. Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon

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