ILOILO – In support to impending implementation of Jalaur River Multipurpose Project – Phase II, Governor Arthur Defensor Sr. committed to address the social projects that the indigenous people of Calinog were demanding from the government.
The governor initiated a dialogue with the IPs on Tuesday as part of the ongoing negotiation to gain the IPs to free, prior and informed consent, an important requirement for the construction of the multi-billion mega dam.
“Without doubt, we will find a way to make the projects you wish for come true. For as long as it is reasonable and direly needed, we will make it possible. But if it is not, I have to say ‘sorry’ and make it clear to you as early as now,” Defensor told the IPs from 16 barangays affected JRMP II.
Among the important requests that the provincial government would shoulder were the rehabilitation and concreting of access roads and hanging bridges from town proper up to the villages for easy transportation and mobilization of their goods.
The governor vowed to personally lobby for these proposed projects to the Department of Public Works and Highways and if the agency could not provide for it, the Provincial Engineer’s Office will.
So far, the World Bank-funded Philippine Rural Development Program has earmarked P178-million for the concreting of 13.7 kilometers access roads from Barangay Cabugao up to Barangay Tuyongan, according to him.
Also, his son and namesake Congressman Arthur Defensor Jr has provided some P1.5-million for the construction of farm-to-market road from Barangay Cahingon up to Barangay Hilwan in Calinog.
Calinog Mayor Alex Centena also announced that they were able to raise P5.5-million for the completion of the hanging bridge in Barangay Toyungan.
As to the IPs request for the reconstruction of damaged Day Care Centers and Barangay Health Centers during Super Typhoon Yolanda, the governor assured that these infrastructures would be prioritized.
“We already have funds for this kind of projects for as long as it was reported and included in the rehabilitation plan. But if these were overlooked during the evaluation, we will use the money we have in the Provincial School Board and Provincial Health Office,” he said.
The IPs also requested for a rescue vehicle and boat in order to prevent casualties during emergencies since most of them were living in a community far away from Dr. Ricardo S. Provido Sr. Memorial District Hospital in Calinog.
In line with it, the governor has instructed Jerry Bionat, the Executive Director of Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, to coordinate to the barangay officials concerned and set aside the fund in disaster preparedness for this purpose.
As to their request for ambulance, he admitted that the province might not afford it so would request for assistance from the Philippine Charity and Sweepstakes Office.
He also instructed the Provincial Agriculture’s Office to make the necessary requests for rice mill, hand tractors and threshers from the Department of Agriculture.
PAO was also advised to lobby for purchase of farm animals like goats, chickens and buffalo or cows.
Meanwhile, National Irrigation Administration Regional Director Gerardo Corsiga is set to meet with other regional directors of national government agencies concerned on Thursday to discuss the demands of the IPs. (Jezza A. Nepomoceno/Capitol News)