FMR brings relief to Kalinga farmers

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CITY OF TABUK, Kalinga – “Istay pay akay di, gappiya” (Thank you so much). Kalinga beneficiaries expressed their gratitude for the Bulanao-Amlao farm-to-market road (FMR) in Tabuk during its ceremonial opening and blessing on July 18 attended by stakeholders.

The punong barangay of the four villages directly benefited by the 15.8 kilometer concreted FMR took turns in expressing how they feel even as they commited to watch the road against man-made destruction and encroachment.

Amlao Chairman Macario Balanggao Jr. said they take pride of the realization of their long cherished dream of having a paved road which to him before seems was a joke when politicians during elections used to lure voters with their promises to improve said road but were never done.

Chairman Jerry Donga of Balawag said it was an answered prayer while Punong Barangay John Wansi of Suyang said it was a dream come true.

Kagawad Mariano Gayudan of Malin-awa said the “bamboolance” used in carrying the sick to the hospital is now a thing of the past. He was referring to the hammock made of bamboo to carry people.

All four barangay leaders committed to support further the improvement of the road for the benefit of the present and coming generations. They vowed to prohibit anyone building structures along the road right-of-way and keep it away beyond the commerce of man and guard it against criminals from making their illicit trade like robbery-hold-ups and as ambush site.

“If the road is clear of disturbances, trade and commerce flourish when commercial goods come in and investors make business in our place and with locals,” said elder Ignacio Baglinit of Suyang.

Department of Agriculture- Cordillera Director Narciso Edillo told beneficiaries, “You endured a long wait for something good you desire. But I am more happy of your commitment,” he said.

Not a wasted investment

The FMR is funded by the World Bank-Philippine Rural Development Program (PRDP).

According to Edillo, Kalinga is the number one implementer of PRDP projects in the country, and has raised their performance in the Department of Agriculture.

Program Deputy Director Elma Mananes affirmed that of the 22 provinces covered by PRDP, Kalinga is number one implementer. Contributory to such performance is the cooperation of beneficiaires and support of partner local government units(LGUs) in providing the ten percent equity.

Implementation strictly followed DPWH standard to come out with quality project aimed to give beneficiaries opportunities for additional livelihood to increase their family income.

Engr. Cirilo Namoc, PRDP National Deputy Project Director, said they are following existing government policies like Dept. of Labor and Employment on wage rule and Dept. of Environment Natural Resources on issuance of Environmental Compliance Certificate.

He congratulated all the stakeholders for the job well done.

One-time, Big-time

Edillo appreciated more the political will shown by LGU leaders particularly in the provision of counterpart. “This means you need the projects for your people, you need the services of these projects to uplift their lives and overall, for the progress of your province,” he said.

In response, Gov. Baac said, “The province with its meager share from the Internal Revenue Allotment spent on counterpart but it worth it since the benefits are a hundred-fold.”

Baac was was initially adamant about the project, but later gave his full support together with the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, the Office on Agriculture Services, Provincial Planning and Development Office and the Provincial Engineering Office.

“This is a home-grown project without paying for a consultant,” he said thanking his concerned department heads for their efforts in getting this “one-time, big-time” project done.

He thanked the Biga and Tobog tribes living in the area for peacefully letting the project go on without any opposition. “Mayat ta awan napan nag-dippa-dippa nga mangiparit ti kalsada,” he quipped.

“Today we celebrate and offer to God our success. As I said, this “One-time, big-time” project is for our children,” Baac said.

With the road, farmers should be encouraged to plant more coffee.The Kalinga State University in their MOA with PRDP will produce coffee seedlings, he added.

Sustaining the project

Namoc said PRDP will come back to implement a road safety plan.

Baac, meanwhile, asked the City local government unit to put street lights.

The Governor asked the SP to legislate for the FMR’s conversion into a provincial road to ensure its maintenance. In the meantime, Vice Gov. James Edduba urged the barangays to allot an amount from their 20% Development Fund for its maintenance.

Relative to the needed protection of infrasructure projects, Edillio also appealed for the protection of the environment telling farmers to go slow on agricultural expansion to the forest. He advised them to adopt good agriculture practices like contour farming.

Other PRDP projects

A PRDP on-going project is the P203M Catabbogan-Wagod FMR in Pinukpuk.

The P230 million Bado Dangwa-Nambucayan FMR with P24M City LGU counterpart received its first “No objection letter” from Project Management Office and being readied for bid offers.

Investment in Rural Entreprise and Agriculture Productivity (IREAP) is also on-going with P20M funding for the coffee industry. This enterprise component of the project aims to give beneficiaries opportunities for additional livelihood to increase family income.

Kalinga shared almost P800 million from PRDP.

(JDP/ PAB-PIA CAR, Kalinga)

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