The World Bank has admired the Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP) and the Provincial Local Government Unit of Zamboanga del Norte for hurdling numerous obstacles to complete the compensation process with the Project Affected Persons (PAPs) at Kalawit-Labason farm-to-market road.

Agriculture Economist and Task Team Leader Frauke Jungbluth in September extended the bank’s commendation to the PRDP team through National Project Director Ariel T. Cayanan and Zamboanga del Norte Provincial Government for successfully completing the Project Affected Persons’ (PAPs) compensation process in full compliance with the safeguard policies relative to the rehabilitation/concreting of 32.27 kilometer Kalawit-Labason farm-to-market road (FMR).

“Your efforts and persistence are highly acknowledged and appreciated,” Jungbluth stated in her letter to Cayanan.

For a project such as road concreting, the land acquisition and compensation is very challenging for the proponent group especially when it adversely affects many people, land and properties. In the 32.27 kilometer Kalawit – Labason FMR there are 171 identified PAPs along with LGU public properties of the Philippine Carabao Center and PhilFIDA, among others. This project would traverse seven (7) barangays connecting two municipalities with 171 PAPs In Kalawit, four barangays are directly benefiting namely: Gatas, Batayan, Poblacion and Daniel Maing. While three at Labason – Gabu, Lawigan and Osukan. A total of 3,661 households will be directly benefiting from the project comprising 18,156 individuals.

The World Bank acknowledged receipt of the submitted documents by PRDP team pertaining to the Safeguards for the Rehabilitation/Concreting of NRJ Gatas-Batayan-Poblacion (Pagkain Ng Bayan) - Daniel Maing, Kalawit-Gabu-Lawigan-Osukan, Labason FMR. It is the biggest PRDP portfolio under its Additional Financing (AF) with an estimated cost of P440 million. For the counter-parting scheme of I-BUILD subproject, 80 percent of the total project cost be funded from the loan proceeds (World Bank) while the other 20 percent is shared by Government of the Philippines through DA and the implementing LGU at 10 percent each.

To secure the No Objection Letter No. 1 as approval for funding the estimated project cost of P440 Million, PLGU of Zamboanga del Norte has to comply with the documentary requirements. Top on the list is the documentation of road-right-of-way (RRW) acquisition and entitlements of land to be encroached by the proposed FMR.

When asked of his reaction about the World Bank recognizing their effort, SES unit head of ZDN Levy T. Lagutin, Jr. on behalf of the province expressed gratitude to Frauke Jungbluth for appreciating their efforts to comply all the requirements set by World Bank.

“To have this project, we followed all the policies and guidelines. We do not want to step on human rights. All were consulted included the indigenous peoples (IPs) for us to realize this project,” Lagutin remarked. The first Barangay Assembly was held at Barangay Poblacion, Kalawit on June 17, 2015 where the residents were consulted about the proposed project.

Lagutin bared that it was easy on their part to explain to them about the RRW acquisition for the project because the people dreamed of it for the longest time.

According to him, of the 171 PAPs, they were challenged by the lone PAP who refused to voluntarily donate his affected land which prompted the PLGU to file an expropriation proceedings which is now pending in court.

The government provided them with an option that if the affected person refuses to donate, the project proponent can exercise the expropriation proceedings. In this case the court finds it valid and immediately the judge issued a writ of possession so the project can proceed.

The source disclosed that this was the last issue solved during June 2018 World Bank Mission and complied with the bank’s recommendation that the PLGU shall deposit an entrust account 100% fair market value of the affected land owner.

Stating the expectations of the local chief executives, Lagutin said that both Mayors Salvador P. Antojado, Jr. (Kalawit) and Eddie T. Quimbo (Labason) projected that their towns will definitely progress when this 32KM FMR be fully concreted. This will lead to a secondary national highway that their products like rubber, cacao among others can be easily transported to trade centers in Ipil. Secondly, this road can be an instrument to solve the peace and order problem because our military personnel can easily respond in case of insurgency.# (Remai Alejado/DA9)

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