Community’s dream reborn at PRDP project implementation consultation meeting

SIPOCOT, CAMARINES SUR – “Iyan ang haloy mi nang pangitorogan digdi sa lugar mi—ang magkaigwa ning konkretong tinampo. Ako baka suruswertihon makadakop man ning magayon-gayon dyan sa dagat, makaani ning kadikit sa pagtanom-tanom baka makabakal man ako ning maski segunda mano sanang awto (It is our longtime dream to have a concrete road. As luck would have it, if I get a good fish catch and harvest, hopefully, I could buy even a second-hand vehicle),” Daniel Lee Palo, a resident of Brgy. Binahian said in an interview about the Concreting of Manangle to Caima Farm-to-Market Road in Sipocot, Camarines Sur in June 2017.

For 10 months, Palo waited for the construction of the FMR subproject to reach his barangay but it didn’t. He heard rumors saying that the FMR was either canceled or was already reported as completed. That made him feel disappointed and discouraged. It felt like his dream died.

Nalalangkag na kami (We’re growing impatient),” he said. “Ano, dagos pa daw su patinampo? (Will they continue the road construction?)” he asked.

Peeping at the window grills of the Brgy. Binahian Barangay Hall, Palo listened as Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP) South Luzon Deputy Project Director Shandy Hubilla and his team discuss the real status of the FMR construction. PRDP infrastructure development (I-BUILD) and Social and Environmental Safeguards (SES) staff trooped to Brgy. Binahian on April 5, 2018 for a Consultation Meeting with 31 Project Affected Persons (PAPs) and barangay residents. Joining them were representatives from the Provincial Project Management and Implementation Unit (PPMIU) of Camarines Sur. The consultation meeting was conducted in response to a grievance sent by a social media user identified as Eves Wood via Facebook. In the said post dated July 27, 2017, she mentioned that residents of Brgy. Binahian has been waiting for four decades for government officials to fulfill their promise of providing a concrete road in their area. She underscored the difficulty of barangay residents to transport patients, including her 83-year-old mother, to the nearest hospital due to road inaccessibility.

Brgy. Binahian, located 21 kilometers away from the town proper of Sipocot, is one of the road influence areas that will benefit from the P131.03 million-worth Concreting of Manangle to Caima FMR. To reach the town proper, farmer-residents of Brgy. Binahian spend about P50 to P300 to get to Brgy. Tagbac in Ragay via boat. From Brgy. Tagbac, they take a tricycle or single motorycycle ride worth P100 going to Brgy. Banga and a jeepney ride from Brgy. Banga to Sipocot for P25.

However, according to Hubilla, implementing the subproject was challenging than expected. During the consultation meeting, he explained the major causes of delay of the subproject implementation including SES issues such as the resettlement of the PAPs in Brgy. Manangle and bad weather condition resulting to three suspension orders from October 2016 to February 2018. Nevertheless, he assured the residents that PRDP is committed to finish the FMR contrary to rumors that it was already terminated or that corrupt officials took the budget originally allotted for the subproject. As of March 28, 2018, the Concreting of Manangle to Caima Farm-to-Market Road has 4.88 percent physical accomplishment. Based from the revised catch-up plan, the FMR is projected to be completed on December 4, 2018.

The consultation meeting served as a venue for the residents to raise their issues and concerns about the subproject implementation and hear first-hand answers from project implementers.

“Marhay man ta dagos pa man palan giraray su patinampo. Nakatipon na pati ako ning tolong gulong sa arong (It is good to know that the road construction will continue because I’ve already saved three wheels at home),” Palo said, his face beaming with joy and excitement for a dream reborn, after the consultation meeting.

PRDP-Bicol Deputy Project Director Adelina Losa reassured the community that the Project employs innovative tools like geotagging to deliver a world-class quality FMR in Brgy. Binahian. She also guaranteed that the agreements during the consultation meeting will be accomplished particularly the monthly updating with barangay officials about the Project’s status.

PRDP also encouraged the barangay to activate the Grievance Redress Mechanism, which promotes strong community participation in project implementation by seeking feedback from beneficiaries to resolve complaints on project activities and performance. The Project also oriented the community about PRDP’s Citizens Monitoring which engages the Barangay Implementing Team in ensuring both the quality and timeliness of the project implementation.

SES is a unit under the PRDP’s Implementation Support (I-SUPPORT) component designed to prevent and mitigate undue harm to the community including the people and the environment. (Annielyn L. Baleza, DA-RAFIS V)