PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s stimulus package, aimed at cushioning the country from the effects of the global financial crisis, has kicked off in Zambales as the Department of Agriculture (DA) led the groundbreaking of the four-kilometer Nagbaldian-Rabanes-WLAC farm-to-market road (FMR) in Sitio Nagbaidian, San Marcelino, Zambales, last Wednesday.
The P5-million improvement and re-graveling of the farm-to-market road was implemented by the Municipality of San Marcelino and funded by DA-Region III through a memorandum of agreement with DA Central Office.
DA-Region III OIC-Regional Executive Director Redentor S. Gatus said that construction of the Nagbaldian FMR is first in a series of similar labor-intensive farm development activities in two identified super regions in Luzon and a part of some 2,000 kilometers of FMR estimated to benefit some 200 thousand farmers in the transport of their products to trade centers in identified priority areas nationwide.
The North Luzon Agribusiness Quadrangle (NLAQ) has lined up around 500 kilometers of FMR and expected to benefit some 60 thousand farmers and generate more than 14 thousand jobs while the Metro Luzon Urban Beltway (MLUB) has programmed around 400 kilometers FMR, helping more than 36 thousand farmers and create some 10 thousand jobs. The northern part of Zambales, Nueva Ecija and Aurora are part of the NLAQ and the rest of Central Luzon is within the MLUB.
In a short message, San Marcelino Mayor Jose F. Rodriguez expressed gratitude to the Arroyo administration and the DA for the project and said that the road system will not only serve as an FMR for the people of his town but will be utilized as an alternate route to decongest traffic along the main road especially in front of the public market and serve as an alternative road leading to the San Marcelino General Hospital and to the rest of Southern Zambales.
“Hindi lamang FMR ito kundi magagamit din ito bilang “alternate road” kung matrapik sa bayan puwede din itong madaanan at maraming motorista ang makikinabang dito,” said Rodriguez.
Meanwhile, Governor Amor Deloso welcomed the development and said that such united endeavor by the national government and local leaders in the province to help the Zambaleños weather the financial storm deserve salutation and should be treated with utmost respect.
He instructed DA Provincial Director Rene Mendoza to coordinate closely with all the municipal agriculturists in the province to fast-track the identification of other farm-to-market roads in the area for budget allocation and implementation.
President Arroyo ordered the DA and other line agencies last January to frontload labor-intensive projects in line with her P330-billion economic resiliency program that is meant to stimulate the domestic economy and generate about 1.5 million jobs by midyear.
DA Secretary Arthur Yap, who is Cabinet coordinator for President Arroyo’s Comprehensive Livelihood and Emergency Employment Program (CLEEP) in Northern Luzon and Bohol, announced that more than half of the total FMR would be built in Central Philippines and the Mindanao Super Region where major food production sites are located.
Yap also said that in compliance with the provisions of Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act (AFMA) Program, these FMR projects worth a collective total of P5.3 billion will be located within key production areas (KPA), marginal lands or new sites under convergence initiatives which link these areas to higher road class systems and major markets or trading posts.