BACOLOR -- Governor Lilia Pineda has ordered the immediate closure of the west lateral road at the megadike after an inspection Wednesday showed its sorry condition.
Representatives from the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) accompanied Pineda during the inspection, which was done in preparation for the post evaluation of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) on August 1 and 2, this year.
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The road used by quarry trucks in transporting their haul was badly dilapidated and should be rehabilitated immediately, the officials of DPWH said.
In a forum with stakeholders recently, Pineda immediately issued the marching order to immediately close the road for rehabilitation until another dialogue with concerned parties, including officials of the Pampanga Truckers and Operators Association led by Arnold Liwanag will be mapped-out.
Pineda also observed that informal settlers have constructed shanties along the toe of the megadike.
In a short dialogue, Pineda explained to the informal settlers that they have to vacate the premises before the end of July as their entry to it is illegal.
The lady governor instructed this town’s Mayor Jose Maria Hizon to facilitate the removal of the said shanties of more than 21 families.
Hizon has offered his personal 15 hectares of land in Barangay Tinajeros, this town, to be the relocation site for the displaced settlers, as part of his promises during the campaign period. The affected informal settlers have been there for almost 21 years.
The governor sympathized with these settlers but she said the Provincial Government has no option but to remove the informal settlers living within three meter easement of the dike as they face risks.
This is also in consonance, she said, with the agreement entered between Jica and the Philippine Government on the maintenance of the said facility as its present condition would affect other future projects which are still under consideration of the Japanese agency.
Engr. Lita Manalo, DPWH representative, said that based on the initial inspection of Jica on the megadike, they found out it lacked of maintenance; it was man-breached; it was full of garbage along the toe; and they discovered the presence of informal and formal settlers there.
“Dalawang beses na silang nag inspect sa megadike. Nalungkot sila sa kanilang nakita, dahil napabayaan lang ito at ang laki ng mga lubak,” Manalo said.
Manalo also lamented that they were saddened when they discovered that a community has been established inside the megadike. She said the inhabitants have constructed electric posts and roads.
“Kaya nga lang ang ginawa sa bahagi ng dike sa barangay Balas pinigtas nila ang dike para mayroon madaanan. Ito yung ipinapaki-usap ng Jica sa Provincial Government na kung maaari ay maipa-ayos upang hindi na lumaki pa ang sira at hindi tuloy tuloy ang pasok ng tubig dito,” Manalo added.
This P4.6 billion megadike is funded by Jica.
Pineda said that the Capitol could and would not sacrifice the welfare of the province for the benefit of the few. (Herbert P. Mapiles with reports from Jovi T. De Leon)