Due to its ‘unbearable condition’

MAHARLIKA HIGHWAY QUESTION. Church leaders of Samar Island joined their voices for the national government to repair what they described as ‘unbearable condition’ of the Maharlika Highway which serves as the main road of the island to the rest of the country during a meeting. Among in the photo are Bishops Isabelo Abarquez of the Diocese of Calbayog; Emmanuel Trance of the Diocese of Catarman; and Crispin Varquez of the Diocese of Borongan; and Samar Rep. Stephen James Tan.(Photo Courtesy)

TACLOBAN CITY – Church leaders in Samar have renewed their call to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to see the ‘unbearable condition’ of the Maharlika Highway and conduct rehabilitation works there.

The call was made by Bishops Isabelo Abarquez of the Diocese of Calbayog; Emmanuel Trance of the Diocese of Catarman; and Crispin Varquez of the Diocese of Borongan during the March 10 gathering of the Samar Island Partnership for Peace and Development (SIPPAD) held in Calbayog City.

Also present were local officials led by Rep.Stephen James Tan (1st district).
“For this common concern of the Samareños and the nearby provinces, we continue our engagement with the government agencies and consistently collaboration with them because our concern is also the concern of the people,” Bishop Abarquez said.

“We continue doing this because the concern of the local government units is also a Church concern. We invited DPWH because the road is also our concern,” the prelate stressed.
During the meeting, personnel from the district engineering offices of the DPWH presented the challenges they are facing as to why road repair is very slow.

In the first district of Samar, they informed the body that for the total length of more than 144 kilometers under their jurisdiction, they are only given a total budget of P17.9 million for its repair and rehabilitation.

This budget will also be used for rehabilitation and repair of other government structures and infrastructures like flood control and drainage, then public buildings.
Although they are expecting a supplemental budget, this is still not enough for the maintenance works, they said.

In the second district of Samar, of the more than 232 kilometers road under their jurisdiction, they are only given a total of P14 million budget for maintenance work, 100 percent lower compared to the P34 million budget allocated to them last year.

The P14 million maintenance fund will be used not only in repairing road but also for other government structures that are under their jurisdiction in the second engineering office.
To hasten the repair of roads in Samar, Rep. Tan had asked the three bishops of Samar Island thru SIPPAD to lobby for additional budget allocation for the repair of the Maharlika Highway.

Meanwhile, DPWH Regional Director Edgar Tabacon disclosed that for the past three years, maintenance fund of the region had significantly reduced to about 21 percent.
For this year, the region was allocated with P248 million budget for maintaining more than 2,500 kilometers of the national road.

“In fairness to our district offices, they included this in our budget, the 59 kilometers dilapidated section was included in the budget but only 16 kilometers was approved for funding,” Tabacon said.

“Sec. (Manuel) Bonoan is aware of the situation and he gives priority for the repair of the Maharlika Highway, not only in Eastern Visayas but in the whole country where Maharlika is traversing,” Tabacon added.

It was learned that the funding for the repair will be sourced from a foreign fund with the inspection of the dilapidated section of the Maharlika Highway conducted November last year.