LA TRINIDAD, Benguet -- Provincial officials have sought the help of President Benigno Aquino III to speed up rehabilitation of the Baguio-Bontoc Halsema Highway, which was damaged by Typhoon Pepeng.

In a resolution carried by the Provincial Board, the request for Aquino to intervene for the immediate and fast rehabilitation of the Baguio-Bontoc Halsema road has been made.

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Provincial officials have raised concern over turtle paced rehabilitation of the national road connecting the province to the rest of the region. The road also is being utilized by farmers who sell their goods to all point in the country.

The board stated in their resolution: “The Baguio-Bontoc Halsema road is the route being taken by our farmers in transporting their vegetables to the La Trinidad Vegetable Trading Post and down to Manila."

The Halsema Highway, constructed during the administration of former President Diosdado Macapagal, links the Benguet province to the Mountain Province and Ifugao and is considered vital in the trading of goods to and from the region.

Portions of the highway were likewise destroyed during last year's typhoons.

"Up to this date, rehabilitation of the road is yet to be completed, thus alarming farmers and commuters of another slide erosion come another rainy season," stated the resolution.

Prior to the storms, the highway's Phase II or Mt. Data-Bontoc section with a total length of 50.5 kilometers had an original estimated project cost of P1 billion while the Bontoc-Banaue section, or Phase III, covering an approximate length of 39 kilometers, had an appropriation of P780 million.

Several road cuts and slides have since hampered the full repair of the highway and are facing a lack of funding from the Department of Public Works and Highways. (Ma. Elena Catajan)