PGMA inaugurates Phase II of Halsema Highway

March 1, 2010 11:58 pm 

BAUKO, Mountain Province, March 1 — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo inaugurated here on Monday the second phase of the newly-rehabilitated Halsema Highway, the so-called "aorta" of the Cordillera Administrative Region's road system, in ceremonies held at the foot of the Mt. Data Bridge.

The President led the unveiling of the marker and drive-through along the bridge with Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap, Public Works and Highways Secretary Victor Domingo, and local executives led by Mt. Province Governor Maximo Dalog, Mt. Province lone district caretaker Manuel Agyao, Bauko Mayor Simon Lacuasan and Presidential Assistant for CAR Tom Killip.

In her speech, the President said the Halsema Highway is a fitting tribute to the "hardy and hardworking" people of the Cordilleras, who together with Regions 1, 2 and the northern provinces of Central Luzon form the North Luzon Agribusiness Quadrangle, one of five growth areas identified by the President in her 2006 strategic development plan.

"The rugged north of our country has some of the most hardy and hardworking people in the Philippines. The long history of grit and determination of our farmers and small business producers have kept this nation moving forward," the President said.

"Hardworking people want good jobs, good wages, and good education for their children. Hardworking people want improved roads and bridges in order to get to work and conduct business, and that is why we have built what we call the aorta or the main artery of the Cordillera's road system — the Halsema Highway," she added.

Residents here consider the second phase of the P1.96- billion La Trinidad-Mt. Data-Banaue section of the Halsema Highway “a dream come true.”

NLAQ Project Manager Rolando Imperial said the project was one of the best things that ever happened to the people of Benguet and the neighboring provinces.

He said the highway has cut travel time between Baguio and Bontoc from seven hours to four hours and 30 minutes. It has also, according to him, lessened the occurrence of landslides during the rainy season.

Loreto Buyaan, one of two resident farmer-beneficiaries of the project, told the President that the Halsema Highway has spurred commerce and provided employment opportunities for the people of CAR.

He said that vegetable growers are no longer worried that their produce will be spoiled because travel time from their farm to centers of commerce in other cities has been dramatically reduced, thus ensuring freshness and high return of investment.

He added that more and more farmers are also able to purchase their own vehicles to transport produce to the market.

Henry Dalog, a carpenter hired to help build the Mt. Data Bridge, was grateful to the Chief Executive for the employment opportunities offered by the Halsema Highway project.

He appealed to the President to create more jobs for the people of CAR through other infrastructure development projects.

There will be many more infrastructure and agriculture development jobs available in the region," President Arroyo told him.

The Halsema Highway is named after a former mayor of Baguio City and former District Engineer of the Benguet Bureau of Public Works in the 1930s who initiated construction works for the highway from La Trinidad to Bontoc. (PNA)

scs/OPS/ssc

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