BAGUIO CITY– Agriculture Secretary William Dar underscored that the enhanced implementation of anti-poverty programs led to the significant decrease in poverty incidents among households in the Cordillera from 22.7 percent in 2015 to only 12 percent in 2018 or a whooping 10.7 percent reduction in poverty incidents.
Dar, who is serving as the Cabinet Officer for Regional Development and Security (CORDS) for the Cordillera, stated that the graduation of a significant number of households from poverty is one of the major thrusts of President Rodrigo Duterte after ending his term by noon of June 30, 2022 for them to be able to improve their standard of living in the modern society.
The DA Secretary said that aside from the aforesaid gains of the Duterte administration in the region, there was better poverty alleviation interventions and greater economic and social inclusion with the graduation of some 57,011 households from the government’s Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program and 2,101 household beneficiaries from the modified CCT.
Further, he disclosed that there was 100 coverage of the people in the region in terms of the national health insurance program apart from the registration of 100 percent of rural health units and DOH-licensed private and public hospitals that are accredited by the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation.
On the government’s food resiliency program, Secretary Dar said that the agriculture department was able to provide some P174 million cash assistance to 33,800 farmers and P239.8 million financial assistance to some 9,593 farmers.
From the government’s anti-Corona Virus Disease (COVID) 2019 enshrined in the Bayanihan 1 and 2, The designed CORDS stipulated that some P2.2 billion were distributed to some 419,025 families under the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) and P307. Million for various agriculture development interventions that will be completed by June 30, 2021.
According to him, the Duterte administration was able to initiate the completion of some 99 percent of the Cordillera regional trunkline last year where among the high impact development projects include the 64-kilometer Kabugao, Apayao-Solsona, Ilocos Norte road that will link the Cordillera and Ilocos Norte which was opened in July 2018 where travel between the two provinces was reduced to 1.5 hours from the usual 5 hours.
Moreover, the 54-kilometer Baguio-La Trinidad-Itogon-Sablan-Tuba-Tublay (BLISTT) outer circumferential ring road project worth P7.7 billion was 50 percent completed as of December 2020.
In terms of improved roads and irrigation facilities, he claimed that from 2017-2020, the government earmarked some P1.274 billion for at least 159 projects having a total length of 127 kilometers which were completed while under this year’s annual budget, some P1.14 billion was programmed for some 78 projects having a length of 95 kilometers which are now ongoing implementation.
For farm to market roads under the Philippine rural Development Program (PRDP), Dar revealed that there were some 67.82 kilometers of roads that were completed with a total amount of P1.035 billion while there are 58.36 kilometers that are now ongoing implementation with a funding of P1.192 billion.
On roads leveraging linkages of industry and trade program, some 124 out of 148 approved road projects were completed.
As of December 2020, he reported that the P4.47 billion Chico River Pump Irrigation Project was 55.49 percent complete. The facility is expected to provide irrigation to some 8,700 hectares of farmlands, 7,530 hectares in the Cagayan Valley and 1,170 hectares in the Cordillera, particularly in Kalinga, where some 4,350 rice farmers are expected to benefit from its services.
Secretary Dar asserted that public health concern, especially the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, shall be addressed, food security and resiliency shall be ensured, economic activities and businesses shall be fully opened and jobs restored, infrastructure investments shall be increased, peace and order shall be sustained and security to be fully achieved during the remaining term of President Duterte.
Dar, together with Cabinet Secretary Carlo Nograles, were the guests during the 6th leg of the Pamana sa Pagbabago, Kasama sa Pamana regional pre-State of the Nation Adress (SONA) series held at the Baguio Convention Center recently.
Photo by Armando M. Bolislis