With the north becoming the country’s saturation point and Mindanao having unstable peace and order situation, Jose Panganiban, Camarines Norte Mayor Ricarte Padilla sees Bicol rising as the country’s growth point. Thus, the region now has to lay the groundwork for rural development, especially infrastructure. He added that with development comes increase in jobs, population growth and higher demand for food. Investing in agriculture is necessary to ensure food sufficiency.

“Mayaman po ang lugar namin, kahit saan ka kumuha ng lupa, i-gold pan mo, makakakuha ka ng ginto pero ang nakikita po namin, mas may ginto sa agriculture (Our province is rich in gold. You can pan for gold everywhere. But as we can see, there’s more gold in agriculture),” Padilla said as he shared the masterplan of Jose Panganiban’s Larap Integrated Development Project (LIDP) with the Department of Agriculture Philippine Rural Development Project’s (DA-PRDP) regional advisory board (RPAB). According to Padilla, LIDP is a development project prepared by urban planner Architect Felino Palafox Jr. He mentioned that the Larap Airport is projected to start its commercial operation in 2021 while the coal-fired power plant is set to start generating electricity for Camarines Norte and nearby provinces by 2021-2022.

 

To complement the upcoming developments in Jose Panganiban, Padilla proposed for the RPAB’s approval a 19.50-kilometer farm-to-market road which will traverse six barangays and benefit 7,796 population. The P208 million-worth Upgrading of Nakalaya-Sta. Elena-San Isidro-Sta. Cruz-San Jose-Dayhagan is designed to link the economic growth points of the barangay to the national highway.

Likewise, Castilla, Sorsogon Mayor Joan Lorenzano-Aquende, a first termer in public service, said she personally experienced the struggles of rural people living in inaccessible barrios. With 42.20 percent poverty incidence, Aquende observed that her municipality cannot compete in commercialization and industrialization right away.

“Castilla has to adopt agri-ecotourism as its banner program… We are pushing for road networks and bridge construction in our area so we could introduce economic development and eventually reduce the poverty incidence in our municipality,” she said.

To support Castilla, Sorsogon’s agri-fishery sector, Aquende proposed for a 7.56-kilometer FMR across four barangays. The P90.72 million-worth Cumadcad-Canjela FMR will benefit 8,564 population. She also presented the proposed Concreting of Dinapa-Pandan-Cogon FMR with 25 linear meter bridge which will benefit 5,495 population in three barangays within the road influence area.

Padilla and Aquende’s subproject proposals were among the five infrastructure development (I-BUILD) subprojects approved for PRDP funding by the RPAB with an aggregate amount of P976.04 million during the RPAB Meeting held on September 29, 2017 in Daraga, Albay.

Also approved were the P358.92 million-worth Construction of 22-kilometer San Agustin- Matalangtalang-Tigbao-Talib-Sawang in Aroroy, Masbate and the P238.68 million-worth Rehabilitation and Improvement of Quinastillojan-Rawis Farm to Market Road and Wharf Projects in San Miguel Island, Tabaco City. With PRDP Project Support Office Procurement Unit Head Michael Gregory Vargas’ explanation of the World Bank-PRDP Harmonized Procurement Guidelines, the RPAB already approved the 9.95 percent increase in cost for the P3.11 million-worth Camarines Sur Coconut Sap Sugar Processing Center and the 7.94 percent increase in cost for the P75.89 million-worth Road Opening and Concreting of Batang-San Gabriel FMR in Pamplona, Camarines Sur.

PRDP is a six-year project being implemented by the Department of Agriculture that provides key infrastructure, facilities, technology and information in partnership with local government units (LGUs) and the private sector to establish an inclusive, market-oriented and climate-resilient agri-fishery sector. (Annielyn L. Baleza, DA-PRDP RPCO V InfoACE Unit)