BONTOC, Mountain Province – The completion of unpaved national roads, restoration of road cuts and collapsed road sections, implementation of slope protection works among other priority public works projects will have to be stalled anew following the huge cut in the regular infrastructure fund of the Department of Public Works and Highways – First Mountain Province District Engineering office (DPWH-MPDEO) this year.
DPWH-FMPDEO district engineer Alexander C. Castañeda disclosed that from the proposed more than P1 billion infrastructure projects that were submitted by his office and approved by the regional and central offices for funding under this year’s annual budget, only P167 million projects were include for funding after the agency released the final list of projects that were given priority funding when President Rodrigo Duterte formal signed the General Appropriations Act.
“We were surprised to see the final list of projects that was slashed by at least eighty five precent aside from the fact that no one could explain why there was a very huge cut in our budget for this year,” Castañeda stressed.
The DPWH-FMPDEO official claimed that the public works projects that were slashed were supposed to be the agency’s priorities for this year to achieve a significant accomplishment in the agency’s goal to fully pave all national roads in the province while some of the unbudgeted projects were restoration of damaged roads and bridges which were not funded in the annual budget for the previous years.
According to him, it is unfortunate that Mountain Province, which really deserves funding support from the national government to complete major infrastructure projects, had been deprived of the said assistance after the prioritized projects for funding were slashed that means that the province has to wait for another budgeting period for lawmakers to lobby for funding of the unfunded projects for this year that affected the agency’s calendar in the completion of existing works, especially leading to remote communities in the province.
The Regional Development Council (RDC) and the Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) in the Cordillera strongly endorsed the proposal to include the slashed funding for the public works projects in a supplemental budget which will be submitted by the office of the President to Congress once its opens its first regular session for the 18th Congress.
The district engineer disclosed that the slashed budget does not include the P6 million being requested from the national disaster Risk reduction and management Council (NDRRMC) for the restoration of a huge rod cut long the Busa section of the Baguio-Bontoc road, particularly located in Sabangan town, which caused the agency to divert the flow of traffic along the major highway linking Benguet and mountain province to the Mabaay,Abatan-Sabangan road for newly a year now which resulted to increased travel town to the capital town by over an hour.
He appealed to concerned sectors to help the agency to lobby for the inclusion of more funds in its budget for next year so that those that were removed from the priority list this year will be restored to ensure a better state of infrastructure provincewide that will translate to better and enhanced economic activities for the people in the countryside.