The Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP) Regional Project Coordination Office (RPCO) in Bicol headed by Deputy Project Director Adelina Losa conducted a Management Meeting with the Provincial Project Management and Implementation Unit (PPMIU) of Masbate on March 10, 2021 to provide updates and discuss strategies to fast track the preparation of documentary requirements for the approval of 18 proposed infrastructure development (I-BUILD) subprojects in the province.

The proposed I-BUILD subprojects in the province include the 14.14-kilometer Concreting of Del Carmen to Malatawan Farm to Market Road (FMR) which will traverse Uson, Dimasalang, and Palanas, Masbate; the 12.12-kilometer Concreting of Cabangcalan to Malatawan FMR with Bridge, which will cover five barangays in the municipalities of Placer, Cataingan and Palanas; and the 10.28-kilometer Concreting of Del Carmen to San Ramon FMR with Bridge in Uson. The PPMIU also eyes the approval of the 9.06-kilometer Concreting of San Antonio to San Carlos FMR with Bridge and the 8.62-kilometer Concreting of San Carlos to Magsalangui FMR in Milagros, the eight-kilometer Concreting of Mabuhay to Sta. Cruz FMR and the 12.20-kilometer Concreting of San Pedro to Malaking Ilog in San Pascual; the 12-kilometer Concreting of Junction Gaway-Gaway to Pasig and the 5.50-kilometer Concreting of Calpi to Cawayan in Claveria. Other proposed I-BUILD subprojects in the province are located in the municipalities of San Jacinto, Pio V. Corpuz, Balud, Batuan and Baleno.

According to PPMIU Head Engr. Ramon Marcaida III, the proposed PRDP I-BUILD subprojects will bring financial relief and big savings to the provincial government’s coffers, which is still bleeding from almost one year of lockdown and COVID-19 response efforts.

“Malaking tulong ito sa amin kasi mahirap naman kung kukunin pa namin sa IRA, kung iaasa pa namin sa pondo ng LGU yung ating mga pondo sa mga farm-to-market roads, mas lalong made-deprive yung ibang mga development projects. Ito yung dream din namin na makonkreto lalo na yung mga interior na barangays kasi malaking tulong din ito sa mga farmers and fisherfolk na nagta-transport ng kanilang produce,” Marcaida said.

He lauded the PRDP’s support and technical assistance at every stage of the project. “Mas maganda yung may constant dialogue para mas lalong namo-monitor ang projects,” he added. He also mentioned that the Provincial Commodity Investment Plan (PCIP), a three-year rolling consensus plan between the Department of Agriculture and the province which serves as basis in selecting eligible PRDP sub-projects, is now being mainstreamed at the local level particularly in the preparation of the Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP), Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP), and Provincial Development and Physical Framework Plan (PPDFP). Among the priority commodities of the province in its updated PCIP are goat, coconut, and swine.

Losa reassured the PPMIU-Masbate of the RPCO’s commitment and support saying “We are here to help. Magtulungan tayo kung paano natin mako-comply ito. Gawin natin ang part natin.” The PRDP joint inspectorate team from the national level, Project Support Office (PSO) South Luzon and RPCO will be conducting a series of evaluation and review of project documents as well as Subproject Appraisal Review (SPAR) on the third week of March. The proposals will undergo subproject prioritization prior to issuance of No Objection Letter (NOL).

Bicol Region Poverty Statistics, 2015 and 2018 published by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) in January 28, 2020 shows that Masbate registered the highest poverty incidence in Bicol Region. In 2018, poverty incidence among population in the province was 33 percent while poverty incidence among families was 25.8 percent. (Annielyn L. Baleza, DA RAFIS V/PRDP RPCO V InfoACE Unit)