Monday, September 22, 2014

Gov’t anti-poverty funds pour in CamNorte like wet season rains
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 20 (PNA) -– Government funds for anti-poverty projects come to Camarines Norte like wet season rains that really pour.

Latest to come was the Php 51-million allocation funded under the Agrarian Reform Infrastructure Support Projects-Phase III (ARISP III) for projects such as farm-to-market roads (FMR), potable water supply and post-harvest facilities (PHFs).

ARISP III is a poverty alleviation project of the Aquino administration that involves the construction and rehabilitation of rural infrastructure such as irrigation facilities, FMRs, PHFs and rural water supply systems for agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARCs).

Specifically, the Camarines Norte projects involve the concreting of a five-kilometer FMR worth Php 26 million and construction of a Level II potable water supply system amounting to Php 4 million -- both in Mercedes town; concreting of another FMR worth Php 15 million, also in Mercedes; and construction of post-harvest facilities (PHFs) costing Php 6 million in Sta. Elena town.

Director Luis Bueno Jr. of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR)-Bicol, which facilitated the allocation and recent release of the fund on, Saturday here said the FMRs would boost the economic potentials of ARCs in the beneficiary area as it will open links between agricultural areas and the local market.

The Php 26-million Mercedes FMR project would benefit around 7,000 residents belonging to the Barangay Pambuhan ARC, including 467 agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) as well as some 10,000 settlers in five remote farming barangays of the municipality, according to Bueno.

The other FRM concreting project, which would improve the 4.2-kilometer road link between the national highway and barangays Rizal and Poblacion, Mercedes, is for the benefit of 400 ARBs and around 16,000 residents of the ARC and its adjoining barangays of San Lorenzo and Salvacion -- including the neighboring town of Capalonga, he said.

The Sta. Elena PHFs project, on the other hand, which involves the construction of a warehouse with a capacity of 3,500 cavans of palay and 450-square-meter solar dryer, would facilitate the ARCs maximum utilization of their lands towards increased productivity, food security and poverty reduction, according to Bueno.

The potable water supply system, meanwhile, which would benefit at least 250 ARC households, will help address the high incidence of diarrhea and other water-borne diseases that have been occasionally plaguing barangay residents, particularly children, due to unsafe source of drinking water in the area, he said.

“These multimillion-peso projects are the first of its kind ever implemented by the DAR Camarines Norte through foreign assistance,” Bueno said.

He explained that ARISP III is funded by the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) for implementation nationwide, involving 68,330 ARBs in 129 ARCs of 53 provinces.

The coming of ARISP III in the province was preceded by the pouring in yearly since 2011 of about Php 347 million in funds for anti-poverty projects in the province funded under the Pamana at Masaganang Pamayana (PAMANA) program of the government being spearheaded by the Office of the Presidential Adviser for the Peace Process (OPAPP).

In 2011, five PAMANA projects in Camarines Norte were provided with a total of Php 140 million from the stimulus fund of Pres. Benigno Aquino III and channeled through the OPAPP under the program.

All projects -- concreting of Malibago-Maligaya worth Php 40 million; concreting of Bakiad-Sta. Cruz-Fundado worth Php 10 million; concreting and graveling of Exciban farm-to-market road worth Php 50 million, all in Labo; concreting of Pambuhan to Lanot Road of Mercedes worth Php 20 million; and the concreting of the Sta. Rosa Sur-San Rafael in Jose Panganiban worth Php 20 million -- were completed in the following year.

In 2012, additional projects worth Php 20 million funded by the DILG were also implemented in the in the towns of Labo, Jose Panganiban and Capalonga while in 2013, an amount of Php 106 million was also provided from the funds of DILG and DA for projects implemented in the same areas.

This year, the DILG provided additional allocations for PAMANA projects worth Php 81 million covering five municipalities of the province--Basud, Capalonga, Labo, Mercedes and Sta. Elena.

DILG Regional Director Elouisa Pastor has clarified that among the six Bicol provinces, only Camarines Norte has the allocation from her agency for the PAMANA projects.

PAMANA is a priority government program towards the attainment of economic progress in conflict-affected areas (CAAs) in line with the Aquino administration’s peace agenda geared at ending internal armed conflicts. (PNA)