Japanese Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission Tetsuro Amano, Rep. led the turnover ceremonies of the Umiray Bridge under the “Project for the Bridge Construction for Expanded Agrarian Reform Communities Development, Phase II (Umiray Bridge)” on January 23 in Barangay Umiray, Aurora Province. Joining the diplomat were Aurora Representative Bellafor Angara-Castillo, Provincial Governor Gerardo Noveras, Agrarian Reform Undersecretary Jerry Pacturan, as well as Dingalan Municipal Mayor Aurora Zenaida Padiernos, Mayor Leovigildo Ruzol of the General Nakar Municipality in Quezon and JICA Senior Representative Sachiko Takeda.
The Umiray Bridge is a collaborative project by the Provincial Government of Quezon and Aurora, the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), and the municipalities of Dingalan in Aurora and General Nakar in Quezon. The cost of bridge construction is approximately 1,394 million Japanese Yen (P760 million) funded under Japan’s Grant Aid. The construction of the bridge started on November 14, 2012 in just over a year.
The bridge is 358 meters long and connects the towns of General Nakar, Quezon and Dingalan, Aurora. The project will generate additional income for farmer beneficiaries and ultimately upgrade the socio-economic and environmental conditions in the area. The completed Umiray Bridge will vastly improve the mobility of agricultural products and commercial goods as well as access between four agrarian reform communities (ARCs). The bridge will also directly benefit about 13,700 people in the ARCs and about 36,000 people in 18 other barangays of Quezon and Aurora.
Furthermore, the municipality of Dingalan, including the surrounding municipalities in the eastern part of Quezon such as General Nakar will substantially benefit from the project especially during heavy rains and typhoon months when some communities these areas become isolated. The Bridge will provide critical access for farmers’ produce as well as for merchants, students and government workers, particularly for people in times of emergencies. The completion of the Umiray Bridge opened economic opportunities and promote development of around 11,000 hectares of agricultural lands and increased socio-economic conditions in these areas.
Japan supports the development goals of the Philippine Government’s Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) as a mechanism to alleviate farmers’ struggles by assisting projects aimed at strengthening infrastructure improvement and socio-economic development in rural areas for many decades. A major project under CARP that is being assisted by the Japanese Government through its Yen loan scheme is the Agrarian Reform Infrastructure Project Three (ARISPIII), which has empowered farmer beneficiaries in 358 ARCs nationwide. This Umiray Bridge is a support service project to supplement the unmet needs of agrarian reform beneficiaries not covered by the ARISP III program.
Japan is the Philippines largest source of ODA and has been a long-time friend and partner in nationwide socio-economic development. This project serves as a continuing testimony of strategic partnership between Japan and the Philippines.