By NATHAN SALVADOR
BAGUIO CITY — Former Pangasinan 5th district representative Mark O. Cojuangco, together with the officials of Sison town, came before the City Council of Baguio “on bended knees” to appeal for a resolution supporting their bid for the rerouting of the third phase of the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX) the afternoon of February 23.
Cojuangco was invited to the council session to air his side on the rerouting of TPLEX weeks after Benguet lone district representative Ronald Cosalan, in the interest of Benguet truckers transporting their produce south of the Cordilleras, rejected his rerouting plan in the Congress.
TPLEX’s original route, which ends at Saitan, Rosario, La Union, passes through the town centers of Pozzorubio, Sison, and San Jacinto, Pangasinan, which Cojuangco claims would cripple the economic status of these towns. Arable lots which the fenced expressway will pass through will have to be bought from the landowners, which Cojuangco claims are members of the indigenous population of Sison who comprise 30% of the total population of Sison and own an average of one-half-to-one hectare of land each, with most of these subdivided among tillers of the land.
Cojuangco’s rerouting plan is projected to pass through a plateau area in Eastern Sison and San Fabian, ending at Barangay Cataguintingan in Rosario. He claims almost nobody owns the land where they plan to reroute the expressway. Backed up by research with the help of a Geodetic Engineer, the alternate route will be able to build roads without the need for extensive quarrying, relying only on the earth from the plateau formations for additional soil.
His rerouting plan exits at a direct road to the north, compensating for the lack of a direct route to Kennon Road and Palispis-Aspiras Highway, with a 5-kilometer six-lane highway that bypasses Barangay Poblacion in Rosario.
This road is said to be constructed by the Department of Public Works and Highways with unspent funds from road widening projects through the Pangasinan span of the Manila North Road (MacArthur Highway) which Cojuangco says Pangasinan would be willing to give up.
Cojuangco says this rerouting plan has the support from various local government units like the Dagupan City Council and the Provincial Board of Ilocos Norte.
When asked by City Councilors on this plan, Cojuangco disclosed that the reroute length was in fact one kilometer more than the length of the original route, but reiterated that, given the road bypassing Rosario Poblacion, travel time to the north will be considerably shorter. This is comparing it to the original route, where motorists will be forced to ply Rosario Poblacion and will have to contend with the motorcycles plying the highway.
The Baguio City Council resolved that this matter be discussed further, and thus have yet to arrive with a resolution as of press time. # nordis.net