ILAGAN CITY, Isabela: Construction of the P2.28 billion Ilagan-Divilacan road in Isabela, which is expected to be completed earlier than schedule, will boost the economy of the coastal areas in the province.
Gov. Faustino Dy 3rd said the 82-kilometer road that passes through the foothills of the 359,486-hectare Northern Sierra Madre mountain ranges will connect this city to the towns of Maconacon, Divicacan, Palanan and Dinapique.
The Ilagan-Divilacan road starts in Barangay Cabisera 10 and Barangay Sindon Bayabo here and ends in Barangay Dicatian in the coastal town of Divilacan.
“This road which links the city of Ilagan to the coastal areas will boost the economies not only [in]Maconacon, Divilacan, Palanan and Dinapigue towns but also the whole province of Isabela as well,” Dy said.
He also cited Divilacan’s 119-hectare beach and freshwater areas that have lured tourists saying that completion of the road project will make it more accesible.
“For so many years, villagers have been deprived of basic necessities and social services, such as health and education because there is no road that links the capitol to the coastal areas,” Dy said.
Light planes and boats are the only available modes of transportation there, making it difficult to reach the coastal towns in times of emergencies and calamities.
The road project has also improved the old logging road that then Acme Logging Corp. used until the 1990s. The road construction started in March 2016 and is expected to be completed in four years.
The Quezon City-based CM Pancho Construction has already finished more than 40 percent of the road works on the project. Construction on the bridges is ongoing to completely connect the road which will be ready for use by the end of this year provided there is good weather, the contractor said.
Meanwhile, the impact of the road on the protected forest has alarmed the Ilagan Roman Catholic leadership that expressed fear that it may damage the forests and ecosystems. They urged Isabela officials to put up safeguards and ensure that the Sierra Madre will be protected while the road is being built.
The Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) issued a resolution reclassifying portions of the Sierra Madre as a special-use zone.
A memorandum of agreement was signed between the Isabela provincial government and the Agta and Dumagat tribes in the area who expressed their consent to the road project.
Some 1,800 Agtas and Dumagats have been staying in the Sierra Madre park areas.
Once completed, Vice Gov. Antonio Albano said, the Ilagan-Divilacan road will make it easier for the people in the outlying areas to transport their merchandise, farm products and livestock and quickly avail themselves of basic necessities and social services from the provincial government.
LEANDER C. DOMINGO