GROUP FORMED TO CHECK PROJECTS IN REBEL-INFESTED AREAS
CONSTRUCTION STOPPED. A portion of the road in Las Navas, Northern Samar where concreting was terminated due to NPA threats. (Photo courtesy of OPAPP)
TACLOBAN CITY — A technical working group (TWG) has been formed to find out concerns and recommend solutions on the delayed construction of government infrastructure projects in conflict-affected areas of Samar Island.
National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Regional Director Bonifacio Uy, in a mobile phone interview on Friday, said the Regional Development Council (RDC) has already approved the resolution creating the TWG. The group will have its first meeting early next year.
Uy, the RDC vice chair, said the group is composed of officials from the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), Philippine Army 8th Infantry Division, and concerned local government units.
“There is a need to create a group that will look into prevailing issues in the implementation of projects in conflict-affected areas, such as the Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA), and identify recommended actions that have to be undertaken to avoid similar issues in the future,” Uy told the Philippine News Agency (PNA).
PAMANA is the national government’s convergence program that extends development interventions to isolated, hard-to-reach and conflict-affected communities, ensuring that they are not left behind.
Early this month, the RDC has identified three terminated PAMANA infrastructure projects in Samar provinces funded under the 2016 budget of OPAPP.
These are the PHP71-million bridge construction in Motiong, Samar; PHP114.7-million box culvert construction in Las Navas, Northern Samar; and PHP192-million road construction also in Las Navas town.
Initially, the region’s highest policy-making body identified some major setbacks of project implementation such as threats from the New People’s Army, absence of access roads, subcontracting issues, unworkable ground conditions, and lack of manpower and equipment.
Top officials in Eastern Visayas have elevated to Cabinet secretaries the discussion on delayed and terminated infrastructure projects meant for impoverished and conflict-stricken areas on Samar Island.
The RDC’s discussions on delayed PAMANA projects have started in the second quarter of this year. Earlier, the body already passed two resolutions to help expedite the project and conduct problem solving sessions.
The council also passed a resolution endorsing the transfer of implementation of delayed PAMANA projects to the engineering brigade of the Philippine Army. The document also requested concerned agencies to expedite the execution of an agreement to facilitate the project construction turnover. (PNA)