PRESIDENT Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo inspected Wednesday one of her priority projects being implemented in the nearby island province of Basilan.

Arroyo and her party landed by helicopters in the town of Tipo-Tipo shortly before 10 a.m. Wednesday, coming from the Edwin Andrews Air Base (EAAB) in Zamboanga City.

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Basilan Governor Jum Akbar, along with provincial and municipal officials as well as military and police officials, led in welcoming the President's party upon arrival in Tipo-Tipo town.

Inspected by Arroyo is the Phase I Basilan Circumferential Road Project that covers the rehabilitation of some 29.309 kilometers of road from the village of Cabangalan, Tipo-Tipo town to Canas in Maluso municipality.

The project costs P57,153,520.79 (Phase 1) and was funded by the National Government through the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

The scope of work for Phase I covers the road excavation, embankment, base preparations, aggregate base course, reconditioning of existing drainage, installation of reinforced concrete pipe culverts and installation of headwalls/wingwalls.

The Basilan Circumferential Road Project serves as a major step in bringing prosperity in the island province even as government steps up its campaign against terrorism and lawlessness in conflict-stricken areas in the south as well as in ending the conflict.

The road projects hasten inter-provincial development through a balanced rural-urban relationship, being the main access of the island's interior barangays to alternative markets in the central town and the coastline cities of Lamitan and Isabela.

The circumferential road is expected to significantly reduce travel time in transporting goods, food crops, commercial crops, livestock, poultry and services to the residents.

The implementation of the project started last January 7 and to be completed within 120 working days.

It is being implemented by the Joint Engineer Task Force “Kaunlaran Basilan” of the Armed Forces of the Philippines' (AFPs) National Development Support Command (NDSC) composed of the Engineer Maintenance Support Battalion, 55th Engineering Brigade of the Philippine Army and the 1st Naval Mobile Construction Battalion of the Naval Construction Brigade of the Philippine Navy.

Those who accompanied President Arroyo were Cabinet Officer for Regional Development (Cord) in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Armm) and Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Secretary Nasser Pangandaman, National Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzalez, Agriculture Secretary Bernardo Fondevilla, Presidential Assistant for Mindanao Secretary Jesus Dureza, and DPWH Undersecretary for Mindanao Bashir Rasuman.