Zubiri urges AusAID to continue Bukidnon road project

MALAYBALAY CITY(MindaNews/25 November)—Bukidnon Vice Governor Jose Ma. R. Zubiri Jr. is seeking a meeting with officials of the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) to request them not to divert the funds of a road project in Kibawe town that was terminated due to alleged extortion by the New People’s Army.

Zubiri told provincial board members last week that seven barangays will be affected if the Kibawe -junction Sayre Highway (Kibawe) Natulongan road component will not push through.

“They cannot bring out their products… they cannot commute because the road is impassable,” he was quoted as saying in the minutes of the November 14 regular session.

The project cost was pegged at P19.14 million for the road rehabilitation covering a span of 3.6 kilometers.

Maria Clarissa E. Rendon, provincial coordinator of AusAID’s Provincial Roads Management Facility (PRMF), was quoted as saying in the records of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan that the project was terminated last February 23 after the contractor, Allado Construction, invoked security issues.

She admitted that at least P6 million of the project cost has been released to the contractor before it was terminated—15 percent for mobilization and about 20 percent for initial project accomplishment.

Rendon said the Provincial Development Council had passed Resolution 05 2012 on June 27, 2012, realigning the remaining fund of the terminated project to a road project in northern Bukidnon.

But Zubiri said that any amendment in the agreement between the provincial government and AusAID regarding the PRMF needed the approval of the provincial board.

He said that the provincial government will request that the fund be retained for the Kibawe project.

“We will be the one to implement it.  We will get a contractor that is not afraid to finish that [road],” Zubiri added.

Bukidnon is among the10 provinces selected to avail of road rehabilitation and maintenance funds under the P3.5 billion AusAID package.

Former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo led the groundbreaking ceremony of the Australian-funded PRMF project on July 21, 2009 at junction Damay, Impasug-ong.

Bukidnon has proposed about 161 kilometers of provincial roads to the project.

A press release said the road project is under the Southern Philippines Provincial Road Maintenance Program (SPPRMP) that covers 10 provinces in the Visayas and Mindanao, funded with Aus$100 million (P3.5 billion) by Australia through AusAID.

The program provides P50 million each year to every beneficiary province for the construction and repair of provincial roads over a five-year period.

The following were the 10 projects proposed by the Provincial Engineer’s Office as its priority road projects:

Impasug-ong – junction Sayre highway (Damay) Guilang-guilang-Kalampagan-Kalabugao road (39.060 km.);  Kibawe -junction Sayre Highway (Kibawe)Natulongan road (12.150km.); Sumilao – junction Sayre Highway,  Kisolon-Puntian road (13.350 km.); Kadingilan – junction Poblacion-Cabadiangan-Matampay road (17.635km.); Talakag – junction Talakag-San Antonio-Dagundalahon road (14.250km.); Quezon – Salawagan-Linabo road (9.450km.); Don Carlos – junction Conception-Nongnongan-Pualas-Kasigkot-Imbayao-Buyot-Puealas road (20.70 km.); Cabanglasan – junction (Paradise-Tugop) Jasaan-Sta. Rita-Sinanglanan road (11.600km.) Maramag – junction Sayre Highway-Kuya-Gagumbaan road (5.650); and Valencia City – junction Sayre Highway (Bagontaas)-Lurogan-Lilingayon road (16.950km.)

(Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)