LEGAZPI CITY, Jan. 26 (PNA) -– Like the third congressional district of Albay, the lone district of Catanduanes has also been allotted over Php2 billion for development programs and projects under this year’s national budget.
In a statement reaching here Monday, Catanduanes Rep. Cesar Sarmiento said the national budget provided by the 2015 General Appropriations Act (GAA) approved by Congress and signed by Pres. Benigno Aquino III last year is Php2.6 trillion and Php1.2 billion of this will go to public works or infrastructure projects.
Of this national allocation for infrastructures assigned to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Sarmiento said around Php1.3 billion will go to the province for the concreting of still-unpaved sections of the Catanduanes Circumferential Road (CCR) worth Php415.4 million.
The other part of the allocation worth Php408 million is for the improvement of the CCR sections within the municipalities of Virac, San Andres, Baras, Gigmoto, Viga, San Miguel, Bato and Panganiban, he said.
The entire CCR Improvement Project is worth P2.6 billion and is being pursued by the administration of President Benigno Aquino III and managed by the DPWH in a joint venture with Nippon Engineering Consultants Co. Ltd., Egis International and Renardet S.A. Consulting Engineers, with Katahira and Engineers International as the lead firm.
It is funded under the Road Upgrading and Preservation Project being undertaken by the Philippine government with financial assistance from Japan International Cooperation Agency.
It covers a 290-kilometer primary and secondary road network that traverses the entire island of Catanduanes.
The project was started in the early parts of year 2000 but works on its first phase, which covered almost half of the whole stretch, was stalled when left unfinished by its Chinese contractor.
The project was revived by the Aquino administration under the mandate given by the President to the DPWH to make concrete all the primary roads in the country’s growth areas by 2015 and all secondary roads by 2016.
The island province of Catanduanes, which sits on the Pacific Ocean separated by Maqueda Bay from the Bicol mainland, is considered as an ecotourism industry growth area owing to its vibrant ecological resources and exotic coastal waters and beaches being frequented by water sports enthusiasts.
The island is also the country’s leading producer of abaca fiber that is highly in demand both in the domestic and international markets.
Sarmiento said the DPWH, under the 2015 GAA, was also given some Php180 million for the construction and/or rehabilitation of seven bridges in Caramoran and Viga towns.
Other parts of the Php2-billion Catanduanes congressional district fund have been earmarked for the concreting of roads covering the tourism corridor in Virac town, the provincial capital and for the asphalt overlay of the Virac Domestic Airport worth Php132 million, whose implementation is assigned to the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC).
An amount of Php60 million was also provided for the development of the Codon Port in San Andres town amounting to Php40 million and the establishment of fish ports in Bato and Gigmoto towns for the amount of Php10 million each -- whose implementations are also tasked to the DOTC, according to Sarmiento.
The same total allocation also provides an amount of Php177.5 million to local infrastructure program—Php76.5 million of which will be used in the construction of public buildings including barangay halls; Php66 million for farm-to-market roads; Php22 million for classrooms and school buildings; and Php13 million for potable water systems, he said.
Moreover, under the same budget, a total amount of Php 137.5 million has been provided for the Government Participatory Budgeting Program of the Department of Interior and Local Government which will be distributed among the 11 municipalities of the province with each allotted Php12.5 million, according to Sarmiento. (PNA) LAP/FGS/DOC/CBD/