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Road rehab bolsters Isabela coastal push

by Brenda Jocson Gaudia
[ ] September 16, 2011

ILAGAN, iSABELA—Governor Faustino Dy III is upgrading an old 82-kilometer road to dovetail the province’s four airstrips, hasten delivery of services to indigenous communities, widen educational coverage and make the investment climate conducive to locators.

The infrastructure aims to spur economic activity in the northeastern Luzon corridor, taking steps to protect ecological preserves of the Sierra Madre habitat.

“I want to start the Ilagan-Divilican project for my people in the coastal towns,” he told Manila Standard, noting their health needs and livelihood among other priorities.

Isabela Rep. Ana Cristina Go of 3rd District has espoused the Palanan-San Mariano road segment, indicating no opposition to Dy’s goal of bringing to the mainstream remote villages cut off in a weather-beaten region.

Dr. Romeo Quilang, president of the Ilagan Sate University, directed the school’s planning and research team to bank data, conduct feasibility studies and assist the Capitol through lawyer Eduardo Cabantac of the Special Committee on Isabela Coastal Development.

Following the provincial board approval, the university and the local government embarked on an environmental impact assessment as required in obtaining an environment compliance certificate.

The team, guided by community organizer Norlando Soriano and Agta tribal folks, made a survey using geographic positioning system and photography to chart land use, topography and water sources and other terrain features indicating logged over sections needing reforestation and the presence of timber stands composed of red and white lauan, tanguile, guijo, almaciga and mayapis.

The route along an abandoned road starts at Sindon Bayabo in Villa Imelda crossing the Abuan Bridge to Sapinit in Divilacan with structural fixtures to be positioned in Lagis, San Mariano.

Awaiting endorsement by the Regional Development Council, the road is aimed for a public-private partnership given the social and economic benefits to Isabela’s long isolated sections.

An immediate benefit is reduced freight cost for commodities where the seaboard road would provide an alternative to transport links via airstrips at Dinapique, Maconacon, Divilican and Palanan.

To boost education, the state university’s Palanan campus will be made more accessible as a result together with the opening of rural health facilities to check and prevent any disease outbreak in a region joined by neighboring Aurora along the typhoon belt.

Dy, who marked his 50th year on Aug. 31, said the environment constituted the life and soul of Isabela and its people along with a motley group of Agta, Kalinga, Itneg and Kankaney tribal folks.

“Isabela will take extraordinary measures to preserve biodiversity in the Northern Sierra Madre,” he said.

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