By ARTHUR L. ALLAD-IW
It is now more than a year since typhoon Pepeng (international name Parma) passed and claimed lives and damaged infra-structures and people’s livelihood in the Cordillera region. It was another bad experience likened to some extent to the damage caused by the 1990 earthquake.
Among these losses caused by typhoon Pepeng is the destruction of roads and bridges in the region. A traveller in the Halsema Highway can see with naked eyes the several landslides and washed out roads not yet repaired or restored to their pre-Pepeng condition. While the Halsema Highway has improved from its tag as the abortion highway after it was paved with the support of a loan specifically from the World Bank; today, the still unrepaired damage from typhoon pepeng, diversion roads and broken bridges complicate the situation for travellers who have heart ailments.
A concrete site, in Ambassador, Tublay was a part of the Halsema Highway. Since the cemented road was totally washed out at the peak of typhoon Pepeng, the waistline of the mountain was bulldozed to build a “temporary” road. It is still used by motorists, and it poses risk because the “temporary” road is slippery, and muddy during this rainy season. It is a sharp curve, and narrow for vehicles to manuever. When typhoon Juan hit Northern Luzon, the said road in Ambassador was the only way through and waiting for the bulldozers to clear the falling debris caused an unending traffic cue in and out of the area.
The washed out road was a year ago.
As the P-Noy administration inherited the problems caused by typhoons Pepeng and Ondoy (ketsana), it reportedly alloted P 1.4 billion for the repair of roads and bridges destroyed by the said typhoons. The amount was a loan from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). And the administration, through DPWH Secretary Rogelio Singson’s media announcement , divided the amount among the affected regions purposely to fund the repair of 86 roads and bridges damaged by Pepeng and Ondoy.
The Cordillera region, which was among those badly hit by Pepeng, was allocated P 151 million from the P1.4 billion. It intends to fund 18 projects which are all for the repair of damaged bridges and roads. As to when these projects would be done is a question however that has no answer. The projects are yet to be realized. Too slow! I hope that the roads and bridges would be restored and realized before it would be destroyed again by future typhoons as Juan did in some other areas.
The Halsema Highway is important to commerce. Vegetables and other agricultural products from the nearby provinces are transported via this highway to the market in Baguio, La Trinidad and the rest of the country. Basic goods also reach the town centers where villagers have easy access.
Of course, even mineral ore is transported by mining corporations via the Halsema Highway. The mine company men and equipment are usually more visible monitoring road conditions, they are quick and readily clear blocked roads during typhoons or rainy season. The people need not express thanks to them, as they too primarily benefit from the utilization of the highway.
Like other Cordillerans, I hope that the P 151 million alloted for the repair of roads and bridges damaged by typhoon Pepeng is utilized totally for such purpose. I hope that it will not go to graft and corruption and would not only benefit the contractors and crooked government officials. If the amount – totally or partially – would be pocketed by the corrupt officials, then it would be a pity for the Filipino people. They would, of course, pay for the loan through taxes imposed on them (Filipino people). I hope that the slogan of P-Noy “walang corrupt” is a walk of the talk. # nordis.net