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Cordillera council: Region’s roads deemed worst in PH

BAGUIO CITY—National policies and standards on infrastructure are inappropriate to conditions in the Cordillera Administrative Region, making the region’s road system the worst in the Philippines, according to the Cordillera Regional Development Plan.

The plan, submitted by the Regional Development Council-Cordillera Administrative Region to the Office of the President, covers the period 2011-2016 with assessment and recommendation for 2015-2016 still applicable to current conditions.

The RDC-CAR is composed of representatives from the National Economic and Development Authority, Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Agriculture and each of the six provinces of the region.

Despite continuing road upgrades, policies and standards favor lowland regions over mountainous upland areas, according to the plan.

In road maintenance, the Department of Public Works and Highways follows the so-called Equivalent Maintenance Kilometer Policy that allocates a standard maintenance cost per kilometer in all roads in the Philippines irrespective of location.

This standard is seen detrimental in highland Cordillera.

Maintaining mountain roads is costlier than maintaining lowlands because of slope protection facilities, bio-engineering stabilizers, sophisticated drainage structures, protective stonewalling and other building factors. These are aggravated by the region’s vulnerability to rain-induced landslides. Nationwide, CAR receives an annual 500-3,500 millimeters of rain, compounded by harsh weather.

National policy classifies almost all roads in the region as “Secondary National Roads” despite their critical role in overall national development, relegating them to the backburner when it comes to priority funding, according to the council.

Those classified in the standard as “Other Roads of Strategic Importance,” are given more attention for urgent improvement. A present example is the Baguio-Bontoc Road rehabilitation.

The region ranks second nationwide in terms of nationwide in magnitude of temporary and unreliable national bridges, numbering 75 or 24.35 percent of total number of bridges in the region, compared to the national average of 9.98 percent, and Region I and II at 3.10 percent and 5.26 percent, respectively.

CAR’s banner project, the Cordillera Roads Improvement Project, has notably progressed in the past planning period with several of CRIP’s key road components already finished, ongoing or in the pipeline.

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