Gov’t allocates P520-M for road projects to boost R-12’s ecotourism circuit

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/19 July)– The national government is investing around P520 million in the next two years for the completion of major road projects covering parts of the ecotourism areas in Lake Sebu town in South Cotabato and the neighboring areas.

South Cotabato Gov. Daisy Avance-Fuentes said the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) has allocated an additional P400 million for next year for the concreting of a road network connecting Lake Sebu and the municipality of Maitum in Sarangani province.

She said such funding is on top of the P120 million funding approved last month by the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) for the construction of a circumferential road linking Lake Sebu’s famed seven waterfalls.

“This is the result of our continuous lobbying and coordination with the national government to prioritize the funding of these projects,” she said in a press conference.

Fuentes said she personally pushed for the funding and completion of the Lake Sebu-Maitum road in the last three years.

She was the second congressional district representative of South Cotabato from 2010 to 2013, after serving as provincial governor for three straight terms from 2001 to 2010. Fuentes also represented the second district from 1992 to 2001.

Fuentes said the provincial development council and the Allah Valley Landscape Development Alliance (AVLADA), a local government-led environmental body that oversees the management and protection of the Allah Valley landscape, had separately proposed for the funding of the area’s road projects.

The construction of the 75-kilometer Lake Sebu-Maitum road network is presently ongoing and officials are targeting its full completion in two years.

The P1.39 billion road project was earlier endorsed by the Regional Development Council (RDC) of Region 12 as among the region’s priority development initiatives.

The RDC-12 cited that the road project will provide a shorter link between the coastal towns of Maasim and Maitum in Sarangani and Palimbang and Lebak in Sultan Kudarat to the regional center in Koronadal City via Lake Sebu and Surallah towns in South Cotabato.

It said the road project will open up a rich agricultural area between Maitum and Lake Sebu, which also hosts huge volumes of coal deposits.
With the municipalities of Lake Sebu and Maitum presently being developed as top ecotourism destinations of Region 12, the council said the road project will eventually make the two areas as twin eco-tourism destinations.

Fuentes said the construction of the seven falls circumferential road was jointly endorsed last month by the DPWH and the Department of Tourism.

The circumferential road network is part of the P791-million worth of “tourism” road projects in the province that was endorsed earlier this year by the Provincial Development Council.

The projects include the 5.25-km circumferential road and national secondary road junction of the Surallah-Lake Sebu-Maitum-Bensidon-Bacdulong road; and the 4.68-km circumferential road, national secondary road junction of Surallah-Lake Sebu-Maitum-Seloton-Seven Falls-Purok Rosas-Lahit road.

The governor said they are set to submit another proposal to the national government for the funding of the proposed circumferential road for the main lake of Lake Sebu town.

She said the road network will fully connect the roads traversing barangays and communities surrounding the 354-hectare Lake Sebu.

Lake Sebu town hosts three scenic natural lakes – Lahit (24 hectares), Seloton (48 hectares) and Sebu. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)