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Piñol wants rationalization of PH rural road programs

Background images from Shutterstock, Franz Lopez/Rappler; Piñol file photo c/o Presidential Photo

MANILA, Philippines – Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol on Tuesday, July 25, said he is pushing for the rationalization of all rural road programs implemented by government, including his department’s farm-to-market road program.

Piñol said he asked Senator Loren Legarda and the Department of Budget and Management last week to rationalize rural road programs implemented by different government agencies so that the country will have one network of rural roads.

"You have to understand that 13,000 kilometers (km) is a lot of roads," Piñol said of the country’s farm-to-market road backlog.

"So the good thing is that I was able to talk to [Budget] Secretary [Benjamin] Diokno about this and he appreciated our suggestion. I was able to talk to Senator Loren Legarda and she appreciated our suggestion, and so that’s the first move," he added.

He listed some of the government agencies that also implement rural road programs: Philippine Coconut Authority, Department of Agrarian Reform, Department of the Interior and Local Government, National Irrigation Administration, Sugar Regulatory Administration, Department of Social Welfare and Development, and the Department of Tourism.

"Ngayon ang problema namin diyan. Kung marami kaming nag-i-implement ng farm-to-market roads or rural road programs, maaaring magkatabi-tabi ‘to at hindi well-coordinated, hindi nabubuo yung buong network ng rural roads all over the country," Piñol explained.

(Our problem there is, if there are a lot of us implementing the farm-to-market roads or rural road programs, it’s possible for these roads to be constructed next to each other and it won’t be well-coordinated, so you don’t complete the network of rural roads all over the country.)

Aside from the proposed rationalization, Piñol said a bigger budget for the construction of farm-to-market roads will also help address the country’s backlog.

"What was allocated for the [Department of Agriculture] for 2018 for farm-to-market roads is only about P6 billion. That’s not enough, because P6 billion would only equate to about 600 km of farm-to-market roads at an average cost of P10 million per km," he explained.

With this kind of budgeting for farm-to-market roads, Piñol said only 3,000 km will be built by 2022.

"So may iiwanan pa tayong (So we will still leave behind a backlog of) 10,000 km, and we will not be able to accomplish what the President would like us to do, which is complete the farm-to-market road program," the agriculture secretary explained.

Piñol said with the proposed 2018 budget already submitted for review, the best thing Congress can do for now is to "get the funding from other non-essential programs."

"Sabi ko at least for 2018, no less than P20 billion dapat ang ma-allocate for farm-to-market roads because that would mean 2,000 km, so maiiwanan ako ng 11,000, i-divide ko ‘yun by 4 years, ang gagawin ko na lang would be about almost 2,720 km per year of farm-to-market road program."

(I said at least for 2018, no less than P20 billion should be allocated for farm-to-market roads because that would mean 2,000 km, so I will be left with 11,000. If I divide that by 4 years, what I’d have to build would be about almost 2,720 km per year of farm-to-market road program.)

Piñol said his department will really have to fight for a bigger allocation for farm-to-market roads in 2019.

"Kung mayroong Build, Build, Build ang [Department of Public Works and Highways], dapat ang agriculture sector mayroon ding Build, Build, Build for farm-to-market roads, because anong kabuluhan noong malalaking kalsada kung walang kalsadang maliliit na magdadala noong produkto ng magsasaka papunta sa merkado?" Piñol explained.

(If the DPWH has a Build, Build, Build, the agriculture sector should have a Build, Build, Build for farm-to-market roads, because what’s the use of big roads if there are no small roads that will be used to transport the product of the farmer to the market?)

He added: "The reason why we’re building big roads is because of the idea that the big roads will be used in transporting goods especially agricultural goods to the market. So kung walang farm-to-market road na gagamitin sa pagdadala ng produkto to the big roads, then useless ‘yung Build, Build, Build ng DPWH."

(If there is no farm-to-market road that will be used to bring the product to the big roads, then DPWH’s Build, Build, Build will be useless.) – Rappler.com

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