PUSHING UP MINDANAO’S BORACAY
The Island Garden City of Samal (Igacos) will get 9 road construction and improvement projects in 2019 that were expected to boost the tourist island’s bid to be the Boracay of Mindanao.
The road projects will provide access to “Tourism Declared Destinations” aimed to promote Igacos as one of the country’s primary tourist destinations, among the top priorities of Davao del Norte Governor Anthony del Rosario and Rep. Antonio Floirendo Jr. in line with President Rodrigo Duterte’s tourism program.
Said to have been denied government projects during the previous leadership of the House of Representatives, the now popular tourist island in the Davao Gulf known for its white sand beaches like top-drawing Boracay Island in the Visayas, has been allocated with the multi-million infrastructure projects in the P3.757-trillion General Appropriations Act (GAA) of 2019 under House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Rep. Floirendo of the Second District which covers Igacos earlier had lamented that congressional funds for his district had been deleted in the 2017 and 2018 GAA by the previous leadership of the House.
Former House Speaker First District Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez had denied Floirendo’s claim but the two legislators, former political allies and long-time friends, had since been estranged following a public quarrel between their girlfriends in 2016.
The split has led to an ugly confrontation: Alvarez filing a graft case in the Ombudsman against Floirendo and initiating a House inquiry into the Floirendo-owned giant banana-producing Tagum Agricultural Development Company (Tadeco).
Alvarez is also said to have deleted congressional fund allocations for Floirendo’s Second District. He also removed his-long-time buddy from membership in the House committees.
The conflict has also rattled the once united political landscape of Davao del Norte: Gov. del Rosario is not seeking reelection in the 2019 mid-term elections and is running in the First District to contest the return to Congress of Alvarez, whose Alvarez Wing political bloc is fielding a candidate against the reelection of Floirendo, the governor’s cousin.
Floirendo and Gov. del Rosario are running under the banner of the Hugpong Ng Pagbabago (HNP), a regional political party founded by Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.
The presidential daughter was also expected to flex her political muscle in next year’s local election in Davao del Norte, following her vow to campaign against Alvarez for calling the HNP as an “opposition party” without the blessing of her father.
Mayor Duterte-Carpio is said to have played a key role in the ouster of Alvarez, whom she earlier also described as an “asshole” and a liability to the Duterte administration.
The Igacos projects, to be implemented in January 2019 by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), came following the ouster of Alvarez as Speaker in July this year.
The DPWH Davao del Norte District Engineering Office has informed the offices of Gov. Del Rosario and Rep. Floirendo about the oncoming projects.
It has also advised Igacos Mayor Al David Uy about the projects.
“Inasmuch as some developments situated within the project alignments are to be affected, we would like to request assistance in the negotiations in the removal of the affected structures, to expedite the project implementation to benefit the travelling public and constituents in your locality in particular,” said District Engineer Daniel Jaravata in a letter dated October 15, 2018 to Mayor Uy signed by DPWH DavNor administrative officer Charlie Maravilla.
Jaravata also told Mayor Uy that a joint site inspection by road-right-of-way personnel of DPWH and Igacos is scheduled for October 23-25 to identify the affected improvements and structures.
The multi-million-peso projects, , whose total actual cost could not yet be established pending release of vital documents by DPWH, were expected to be welcomed with elation by Vice Mayor Orly Amit, given that Igacos had previously been starved of government projects.
In a recent interview with a Davao City radio station, Amit said he almost cried when told that projects for Igacos had been shelved when he visited DPWH DavNor, before Alvarez was ousted as Speaker, to inquire about the status of projects for his island city.
Reportedly deleted during the stint of Alvarez, funding for the Igacos projects were now taken from the P51-billion additional infrastructure fund for DPWH alleged to have been “inserted” in the DPWH budget during the tenure of Alvarez.
Arroyo has ordered the insertions re-aligned to other projects like projects earlier earmarked for Igacos.
The budget “insertion” described by some congressmen as “pork barrel” like the scandalous Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), was discovered as the new House leadership deliberated on GAA 2019 after Alvarez was ousted and replaced by Arroyo.
The alleged insertion happened even as President Duterte had said that GAA 2019 will not have any pork barrel for legislators like PDAF which has been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
Before Duterte, PDAF was a multi-billion congressional fund allocated to legislators that were used to fund ghost projects proposed by scam queen Janet Napoles, who coughed up huge commissions to the lawmakers.
Approval by the House of GAA 2019, earlier set to be in October, had been delayed as the House leadership probes the P51-billion “insertion” and re-align the fund to other projects.
House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya has formed a panel to identify projects to be funded by the insertion that some critics call as the “Alvarez pork barrel.”
The P51-billion insertion in the DPWH budget in the 2019 GAA is said to be one of the reasons why Alvarez was deposed as Speaker and then majority leader Rep. Rodolfo Farinas to lose his position and replaced by Andaya. Davao City First District Rep. Karlo Nograles, a close ally of Alvarez, retained his chairmanship of the powerful committee on appropriations, by denying he had a role in the insertion.
The online news site Rappler.com reporting on the insertion said that:
“The (P51-billion) was intended for a “parking” funds scheme, when a lump sum of money, often without a specific purpose identified, is listed under the budget (of the DPWH for) a particular congressional district. However, the congressman of that district is informed …. that this particular allocation was merely listed or “parked” in that allocation, but will be used for a different project or district.”
Related reports on the issue said that the P51-billion insertion would be going to the districts of close allies of Alvarez.
THE IGACOS ‘TOURISM RELATED DESTINATIONS’ ROAD [PROJECTS
(A) ROAD WIDENING – Secondary Roads Babak-Samal-Kaputian
(B) ROAD WIDENING – Secondary Roads Babak-Samal-Kaputian
CONSTRUCTION/IMPROVEMENT OF ACCESS ROAD from Pasog-Licup-Tagbitan-ag-Tagluna leading to Putting Bato, Canibad Resort-Aundanao
CONSTRUCTION/IMPROVEMENT OF ACCESS ROADS from Camudud leading to Samar Dairy Farm, Provincial Demo Farm, Mango Orchard and Secdea Beach Resort
CONSTRUCTION/IMPROVEMENT OF ACCESS ROADS from National Road to Hagimit Falls, Barangay Cawag
CONSTRUCTION/IMPROVEMENT OF ACCESS ROADS from City Road Sitio Buhangin leading to Magongawong Falls, Barangay Tagbaobo
CONSTRUCTION/IMPROVEMENT OF ACCESS ROAD from San Antonio Proper leading to Sitio Anggas Peak, Barangay San Antonio
CONSTRUCTION/IMPPROVEMENT OF ACCESS ROADS from NRJ leading to Sanipaan Marine Park, Fisherfolks Village, Seaweed Farm and other resorts
CONSTRUCTION/IMPROVEMENT OF ACCESS ROADS – Talikud Circumferential Road