Camarines Norte bridge opens, brings relief to villagers
SAN LORENZO RUIZ, Camarines Norte—Although grieving, Gina Tabalan, 32, felt relief when a P20-million bridge connecting five villages was inaugurated and opened on Friday, cutting short travel time from the interior villages to the capital town of Daet from more than two hours to just one hour.
Tabalan’s year-old baby, who was suffering from asthma, died when Super Typhoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan) hit in November last year because it took them four hours to travel through the more than 20 kilometers of rough and muddy road on the way to the hospital.
She said she and her baby were riding a single motorcycle but the bad weather and road aggravated their situation and prolonged their travel time so by the time they reached the hospital, her baby was already dead.
Tabalan said her baby could have survived if the asthma attack happened now with the construction of the bridge in Barangay (village) Manlimonsito.
She said the bridge opened a new and shorter route from her village as it made travel to Daet to just a little more than one hour.
“The bridge could save lives,” she said, drawing a lesson from her experience.
Ricardo del Rosario, 67, a farmer, said it would be easier now to bring his produce to town because of the newly constructed bridge.
He said that before, only one jeepney trip was going out of the village and another going back every day.
With the completion of the bridge, he expected more public transport vehicles to ply the routes into the interior villages.
Tabalan and Del Rosario were among more than 200 villagers who attended the inauguration and official opening of the bridge and the multiservice caravan of the provincial government of Camarines Norte.
The P20-million bridge, which improved the accessibility of the villages of Manlimonsito, San Isidro, San Ramon, Salvacion and San Antonio, was provided by the Office of the Presidential Affairs on the Peace Process (Opapp) under the Pamana program, according to Gov. Edgardo A. Tallado.
He said Camarines Norte was able to get more than P100 million worth of infrastructure projects from the Opapp this year, which added to more than 200 km of new road networks that were built since 2010.
Tallado said it paid to be “shameless” to wait and prod national government secretaries to seek approval of projects for his province that improved the poverty situation of Camarines Norte as the province with the least number of poor families among the six Bicol provinces.
Paul Escober, Pamana area manager for Bicol-Quezon-Mindoro, said its projects were largely about infrastructure facilities and were implemented in “conflict areas” where communist rebels were present.
It started in 2011 in Sorsogon province and then expanded to Masbate province, Camarines Norte, the Bondoc peninsula in southern Quezon province and Oriental Mindoro province, Escober said.
“It (Pamana) focuses on conflict areas but it is not really a counterinsurgency program because we deliver the basic services, which is a normal function of the government,”he said.
Since the program’s implementation, the Opapp has completed P1.7 billion worth of infrastructure projects in Bicol, he said.
In Sorsogon, Escober said, Pamana had projects in the towns of Gubat, Prieto Diaz, Barcelona, Irosin, Magallanes, Casiguran and Juban towns.
In Masbate, the projects are found in the towns of San Pascual, Monreal, Dimasalang and Oson, and in Camarines Norte, in the towns of Labo, Capalonga, San Lorenzo Ruiz, Mercedes, Jose Panganiban and Basud.
Escober said the projects included farm-to-market roads, bridges, water systems, irrigation, electrification and some livelihood programs and others requested by communities.
Initial evaluation of Pamana projects during the three years of implementation showed improvement in the socioeconomic situation of people through higher income of households, he said.
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