"It is a bit disturbing that new projects have been prioritized but the Super region isn't addressing our problem with the national highway," Board Member Roland Deticio told an open forum during the province’s regular session .
Deticio cited the rehabilitation of the 130-kilometer portion of the national Sayre Highway which he said was not included among the priority projects of the Super region “even if new road projects have been earmarked in the region”.
NEDA officials were asked to update the provincial legislators of the projects under the Super region and legislators were dismayed that no major infrastructure project was lined up for Bukidnon.
Deticio described the exclusion a "mockery".
The Sayre Highway, the stretch of road from Puerto in Cagayan de Oro to Dologon in Maramag, Bukidnon, would be rehabilitated, upgraded and widened to solve the problems of access and public safety.
Last month, Presidential Assistant for Northern Mindanao Pacifico T. Pupos Jr. announced the target completion of major infrastructure projects and the list included the P7.853-billion Laguindingan International Airport Development Project in Misamis Oriental; the P173-million Ozamiz City Airport Development Project in Misamis Occidental; the P572.87-million Cagayan de Oro Port Development Project; and the P2.670-billion Panguil Bay Bridge Project in Misamis Occidental.
Other projects also included the P861-million Iligan City Circumferential Road in Lanao del Norte; the P12.731-million Lanao del Norte Provincial Hospital; Jatropha Nurseries in Bukidnon; the P1.682-billion Agus 3 Hydroelectric Power Plant in Pantas, Lanao del Norte; and the P1.856-billion Agus 6 Hydroelectric Power Plant Uprating Project in Iligan City, Lanao del Norte.
Board Member Camilo Pepito said the Arroyo administration's economic program has promised new projects “yet it cannot prioritize existing projects that play an important role in the economy of the province and Mindanao”.
Board Member Glenn Peduche said it was ironical that the province was considered a food basket for Mindanao “and yet its national highway is dilapidated”.
Ro Ann Bacal, NEDA 10 regional director, said the Regional Development Council did not receive a proposal from Bukidnon's Provincial Development Council as of 2006 when the projects for the Super region were collated by the RDC based on priority projects from LGUs.
However, a source at the Provincial Planning and Development Office who asked not to be named for lack of authority to speak on the matter told MindaNews the need to widen and upgrade the highway starting from Puerto has already reached the RDC between 2005 and 2006.
"There is still time to continue pushing for the (Sayre Highway) project," Bacal said reminding local governments not to take the planning process lightly.
Bacal said their mandate was on projects that cross provincial boundaries. She promised, however, to coordinate with the Department of Public Works and Highways for updates on the matter.
Engr. Jerry Acuña, from the DPWH 1st Engineering District maintenance section, confirmed to MindaNews that there was no proposal on the full rehabilation of the highway and that they were only doing their regular maintenance work in certain sections.
Deticio told MindaNews the portion requiring rehabilitation was finished in 1985 and should have been replaced in 2000 with a 15-year lifespan. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)