THE State of the Nation Projects that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo promised will be completed before she steps down, an official of the public works and highways regional department said.

Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Cordillera Administrative Region Engr. Roy Manao assured that the projects will be finished by March.

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Manao said the DPWH is only having trouble in the Baguio to Bontoc section of the Halsema rehabilitation project because of road cuts caused by Typhoon Pepeng.

He said there were too many big slides and the DPWH has to find a way to ensure safety in the road.

"There are instances where the whole mountain slope was damaged so we have to look for a way to make the slope stable," Manao said.

He also said that the Bontoc to Lagawe section of the Halsema project will be substantially finished by March, but the DPWH will have to convince the approval of lot owners about portions of their properties.

The problem lately is the hesitation of lot owners, who want to be compensated first. Under government accounting rules, payments are only made after a purchase has been perfected.

Manao said the projects in the Cordillera are 95 percent complete on pavement work but only 80 percent complete on roadside work.

Moreover, Manao said the DPWH has coordinated with the Tinglayan local government to ask the military to guard contractors' equipment along the Bontoc-Lubuagan road.

"There are many threats on the contractors there, we have asked the military to help us so they can feel safe," Manao said. (Visha Calventas)