HIGH-IMPACT ROAD PROJECTS TO BOOST PEACE AND DEVELOPMENT IN DAVAO ORIENTAL

COMPOSTELA-CATEEL ROAD: While traversing this road that famous Aliwagwag Falls in Cateel,

Tourist arrivals has boost at the famous Aliwagwag Falls in Cateel town with the soon-to-be completed COMPOSTELA-CATEEL ROAD.

City of Mati, Davao Oriental — The seven big-ticket road projects in Davao Oriental is seen to boost the robust economic growth in the province as the provincial government is poised to intensify its investment promotion campaign especially on tourism after the province’s crown jewel was declared a World Heritage Site, a unique distinction and a big come-on as the biodiversity-rich Davao Oriental is the only province in Mindanao to host a World Heritage Site.

Four of the seven government-funded “high-impact” road projects will be completed in December this year while the rest are set for completion in January and February next year, according to Mariano Alquiza, regional director of the Department of Public Works and Highways in Southern Mindanao during a regular press conference held at the DPWH office in the City of Mati.

The upgrading projects of the Mati-Maragusan Road which cost P165 million will be completed in January 2016, according to its contractor H2 Landmark/Three W Builders Inc.

The upgrading of Tibanban-Lavigan-Tagabebe-Surop road in the municipality of Governor Generoso which cost P156 million will be finished in January next year, according to its contractor Maverick Builders Inc. Another upgrading of Tibanban-Lavigan road in the same municipality which cost P145 million will be completed in December this year, according to its contractor Allado Construction Co. Inc./Coastland Const.

The upgrading of the Compostela-Cateel road which cost P242 million will be completed in February next year, according to its contractor Maverick Builders Inc. The PAMANA road project in Barangays San Miguel and Poblacion Caningag in the town of Caraga which cost P100 million will be completed in December this year, according to its contractor Maverick Builders Inc. The road upgrading project in Pusan Point in the same town including the construction of seawall and improvement of Tourism Site cost the government P78.2 million. Its completion is set on December this year. The construction of a bridge in Barangay San Pedro in Caraga town which cost P180 million was completed in October this year.

For her part, Davao Oriental Governor Corazon Malanyaon vows to pour more investments in the construction of roads in the province. “We intend to continue to pour our support to include these conflict-affected and vulnerable areas by providing funds for the rehabilitation, construction, installation of potable water supply and sanitation projects and for the installation, maintenance of lighting system. And in addition, we have extended coverage of the rehabilitation, maintenance and improvement of local roads, bridges and other public facilities in order to sustain the benefits of improved accessibility to these areas,” says the governor.

FILE PHOTO: The soon-to-open Provincial Government-funded Mt. Hamiguitan Museum and Eco Park at the UNESCO World Heritage Site in San Isidro. With the completion of the road project here, the site is readily accessible to all visitors.

FILE PHOTO: The soon-to-open Provincial Government-funded Mt. Hamiguitan Museum and Eco Park at the UNESCO World Heritage Site in San Isidro. With the completion of the road project here, the site is readily accessible to all visitors.

The Internal Peace and Security Plan or Bayanihan program of the Armed Forces of the Philippines was piloted in Davao Oriental to great success, with government and the military cooperating in bringing development projects to far-flung areas especially those called GIDAs or Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Areas which are far from vital government and private resources. The government has defined GIDAs as communities with a marginalized population and physically and socio-economically separated from the mainstream society. They are physically isolated due to distance, adverse weather conditions, lack of transportation (island, upland, lowland, landlocked, hard to reach and unserved or underserved communities), with high poverty incidence, presence of vulnerable sectors, and a community in or recovering from situations of crisis or armed conflict. These inaccessible areas became perfect refuge for rebel groups operating in the province as they felt safe in these areas that eventually became their nerve centers from which all revolutionary movements in the region are directed.

The provincial government and the military are one in saying that when people’s basic needs are met, there will be no reason for the people to join rebel groups and rise against the government. The first item on the long priority list was to improve the road network to connect conflict areas with the rest of the community. Without access, other basic services will not reach the natives who are among the poorest in the province. To provide the much needed roads, the provincial government acquired its own materials and equipment for road building. Then along with personnel from the military, they painstakingly built the access roads. Eventually new roads were carved out, though still rocky and not concreted. Even then, the people are happy because it significantly shortened travel time from their remote villages to the commercial centers where they market their agricultural produce.

FRUITS OF PEACE

More importantly, the vital road projects in conflict areas in the province forged a good relationship between the provincial government, the military and the natives, and it had planted the seeds of trust that had long been missing in the communities. The new roads plus the healthy relationship paved the way for other aspects of development to enter these vulnerable areas. The governor, a Mandaya native herself, have also successfully helped the indigenous peoples in the province in their plea for ancestral domain. As they now enjoy full ownership of their ancestral lands, the Mandayas are now assured of equity in their own rich and fertile land, bringing them closer to the support services bankrolled by the national and local governments such as farmer training.

However, the province is now a new beehive of tourism activities. Tourists come in droves to see its most impressive coastal scenery, particularly its awesome and serene beaches and lovely islands. Banking on its magnificent eco-tourism destinations, the local government vows to give its visitors the transformative magic of travel.

The whole of Davao Oriental has just been declared a tourism development area by President Benigno Aquino. The local government funded the development of the province’s top tourism sites. Among them are the Subangan Museum, Mati Park and Baywalk and a sprawling resort in Dahican Beach. As the tourism business in the province is now flourishing, construction of new hotels and resorts is sprouting. Among the new promising tourism landmarks being constructed by the provincial government is the sprawling and unique Subangan Museum which features, among others, the largest skeletal remains of a Sperm Whale. Tourist arrivals in Davao Oriental have skyrocketed from 17,000 in 2011 to more than 300,000 in 2015. By Ferdinand Zuasola

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