DUMAGUETE CITY – A multi-million peso road network project that will connect hinterland barangays in central and southern Negros Oriental province is expected to spur progress and development to communities affected by communist insurgency.
At present, the provincial government is already working on portions of the road that will go through the Tamlang Valley where most areas are bereft of basic services like electricity, potable water, and access to transportation.
In 2022, the province had initially allocated PHP36 million for the road project in Tamlang Valley that includes concreting and the construction of box culverts, said Engineer Maelene Jimenez, officer-in-charge of the Office of the Provincial Engineer, on Friday.
More funds will come to aid the massive road project, she added.
Earlier, Governor Roel Degamo announced that he would ask the Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP) for PHP1-billion budget this year for various infrastructure projects, 10 percent of which will come from the province.
For now, a P300-million budget has been allocated for Tamlang Valley, 10 percent of which or P30 million came from the provincial government.
“Of the total PRDP budget, PHP 300 million is allocated for Tamlang Valley, and the provincial government has already calendared its 10 percent counterpart of PHP 30 million for this,” Jimenez said in mixed English and Cebuano.
The road project would link around 75 kilometers that would traverse the hinterland barangays of Pamplona, Sibulan, Valencia and Santa Catalina.
The priority, however, will be the immediate construction of the road that connects Sitio Tamlang in Barangay Talalak, Santa Catalina to Sitio Badiang, Barangay Dobdob in Valencia town, where the community primary hospital will begin construction on Jan. 24.
Speaking to residents in Tamlang Valley on his recent visit there, Degamo said the road project would provide them access to markets where they can sell their farm produce at a competitive price.
Also, this will solve their transportation woes, as vehicles may now be able to reach the interior areas of Tamlang Valley that used to be a “no man’s land” at the height of the insurgency in the late 80s and early 90s.
A teacher of a hinterland school in Tamlang who requested anonymity said riding a motorcycle-for-hire or “habal-habal” will cost a passenger at least PHP1,000 one way if traveling to the town proper.
He decided to acquire a second-hand motorcycle to ferry him back and forth, but he decided to reduce his road trips due to the high costs of fuel.
“Life is hard in the mountains of Tamlang and adjacent areas. People are suffering because there is no electricity, water is scarce, roads are so bad, and there is no cellular network signal at all,” he said.
Col. Roderick Salayo, commanding officer of the Philippine Army’s 11th Infantry Battalion, which covers the central and southern Negros Oriental towns and cities, said the road and the community primary hospital projects would definitely boost the government’s efforts to end the communist insurgency.
“With the Provincial Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (TF-ELCAC) aiming for a collaborative approach to development and progress in an area, this is a welcome development as these projects will cater to many residents in the farthest barangays that will benefit from health and other services that they have for so long desired and it is a dream come true for them,” Salayo said in mixed English and Filipino.
The Army commander called on the people in the area to make themselves more productive now that these projects are being implemented as he also reiterated his call to the “remnants” of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) to surrender and integrate themselves in mainstream society. (PNA)