CAMARINES SUR — President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Friday, January 4, announced that the Bicol region would be funded first for flood mitigation projects after the abolition of the Road Board.
The President made this commitment to Bicolanos after he conducted an aerial inspection on areas devastated by Typhoon Usman.
“Ang pangako ko, once that road tax money is freed, you will be the first recipient sa projects dito,” President Duterte said during the situation briefing in the aftermath of Typhoon Usman held at the Camarines Sur Watersport Complex (CWC) in Pili.
The Chief Executive noted that the road user’s tax had become the “milking cow” of corrupt politicians; therefore, he will discuss the abolition of the Road Board to the Senate President and House Speaker as well as transferring its management to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
“We will work together, [to] convince Congress. Wala naman silang magawa talaga diyan. Ayaw ko talaga eh, maski saan niyo ilagay, I will not release any single centavo there. Manghinayang ako,” he said.
“But if it can put to good use, kagaya ng perennial ninyo dito… Eh papaano ninyo kunin ‘yang tubig diyan? Matagal pa ‘yan. Unless you pray for a dry spell for about half a year,” he added.
“So okay ako diyan unahin muna ang Bicol. With that money, I will give you my commitment that you’ll be the first,” he continued.
President Duterte then remarked that he would ask Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council Chairman Eduardo Del Rosario to initiate the construction of around 300 houses for the landslide victims of Typhoon Usman in Bicol.
“I’m ready to spend the money for — to improve the topography of the place and make it safe for people to build houses,” he said.
Also during the situation briefing, the President appointed Presidential Adviser for Bicol Affairs, former Regional Trial Court Judge Marvel Clavecilla as the point person in overseeing the government’s projects in the region.
Typhoon Usman entered the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) on December 28 and affected areas in CALABARZON (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon Province), MIMAROPA (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan), Region V, and Region VII.
According to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, the calamity damaged the Bicol region immensely particularly in Albay and Camarines Sur, where heavy rains resulted in flash floods and landslides affecting more than 23,000 families, with at least 122 confirmed deaths, and 28 reported as missing. ### PND