'Kalsada' project to sustain road maintenance, create barangay jobs

PIA Press Release 2004/01/26

'Kalsada' project to sustain road maintenance, create barangay jobs

Iloilo City (26 Jan) -- By February of this year, the country's network of 31,000 kilometers of national roads and highways will be taken care of by barangay residents under the supervision of their respective barangay captains under the project dubbed "Kalsada Natin, Aalagaan Natin."

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo launched along with other projects here the Visayas component of the Kalsada Natin for Regions 6, 7 and 8 in Cabatuan town during her visit to Iloilo last Jan. 25.

President Arroyo said that aside from ensuring the maintenance of the cleanliness of roadsides along national highways, the project would also generate jobs for residents of barangays that are traversed by these major road systems.

It will also make national highways safer for motorists and pedestrians.

During a briefing for members of the media held here last Jan. 26, former Quezon province congressman Danilo Suarez, vice chair of the Road Board, said barangay residents who would be tapped to work for the project would be paid at the standard rate of P120-180 a day.

Barangay captains who are supervising them will receive a fixed monthly allowance of P500.00. There are 18,000 barangay chairmen who will be tapped as project supervisors nationwide.

The project has transferred the task of national road maintenance from the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to the barangays. It will be funded out of the trust fund that was put up from collections from the Motor Vehicle Users' Charge (MVUC) of the Land Transportation Office.

The extra vehicle registration charge was mandated since 2001 by Republic Act No. 8794 that was authored by Suarez when he was the House Chair of the Ways and Means Committee. He was congressman from 1992 to 2001.

The former congressman said he worked out for the putting up of the trust fund which has now reached P14 billion after two years to make the project sustainable.

The parts of the national road which are included in the project are the pavement where the vehicles pass, the roadside, canals and right of way.

Barangays involved in the project will be given a set of basic maintenance tools, and t-shirts, raincoat, hat and boots for the use of the workers.

Suarez said the decision to push through with the project was prompted by the economic problem that was triggered by the Iraq War and the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) scare in early 2003 when hundreds of Overseas Foreign Workers were displaced and foreign exchange earnings from foreign tourist arrivals fell.

About 160,000 barangay residents would be hired to work as highway maintenance workers nationwide under the project. They would be paid under the direct labor scheme by the DPWH, according to Suarez.

The Road Board which is the lead implementor of the project is chaired by DPWH Secretary Florante Soriquez. The members are Finance Secretary Jose Isidro Camacho, Budget Secretary Emilia Boncodin, DOTC Secretary Leandro Mendoza and Felino Polintan, Jr., private sector representative.

During her visit here, President Arroyo also led the groundbreaking for the new Iloilo Airport of international standards to be located in 10 barangays of Cabatuan and Sta. Barbara, switching on of the additional 10-megawatt power plant of Panay Power Corporation that was installed by Mirant, ceremonial inauguration of road systems in the 3rd congressional district of Iloilo, and awarding of winners of the world-famous Iloilo Dinagyang Festival.

Top Iloilo officials headed by Senator Franklin Drilon, Gov. Niel Tupas, Iloilo City mayor Jerry Treņas and congressmen of the five districts of the province and lone district of Iloilo City led thousands of Ilonggos in according the President a warm welcome during her visit here. (PIA-6)

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