December 12, 2017, 7:08 am
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Concreting of ‘NPA highway’ in Cotabato starts next week

T’BOLI, South Cotabato. – The concreting of a 40-kilometer road through the mountains, known as the “New People’s Army highway,” will start next week to open access to five towns in the upper valley area of this province and General Santos City.

The P700-million road access project will pass through the foothills of barangays Afus and T’bolok, and portions of barangays Mongocayo, Basag, and Maan, all said to be routes used by the communist rebels operating in the tri-boundary area of the provinces of South Cotabato, Sarangani and Sultan Kudarat.  

“Its construction is expected to unlock economic and eco-tourism opportunities of our town,” Mayor Dibu Tuan of T’boli said on Wednesday in an interview.

T’boli is the home of some 90,000 B’laan and T’boli tribesmen, scattered in 25 barangays. It is also known for huge gold deposits and exotic falls.

The access road to General Santos City is also expected to benefit the other upper valley area localities, like the towns of Banga, Surallah, Norala, Sto. Niño, and Lake Sebu because travel from and going to General Santos City would be shortened.

“Through the road project, the residents will directly access the General Santos City’s airport in Barangay San Jose there,” Tuan said. 

Tuan said he has been told by South Cotabato Rep. Ferdinand “Dinand” Hernandez that aside from concreting the access road, the Department of Public Works and Highways will also construct three bridges.

DPWH in the Central Mindanao region is the implementing agency of the road access project.

Hernandez, deputy speaker for Mindanao, lobbied also for the funding of the Lake Sebu-Maitum access road project worth P1 billion.

“It was a dream come true for all of us and for my father because after 32 years of waiting, it was finally realized,” said Tuan, who thanked Hernandez for getting funds from the national government for the access road.

Tuan said it was the dream of his late father “Mai Tuan,” the first town mayor appointed by then President Ferdinand Marcos, to make T’boli a “gateway” to General Santos City.

Two soldiers were hurt in clashes between government forces and NPA rebels in Himamaylan, Negros Occidental early Thursday.

Reports reaching Camp Crame said a platoon of Army soldiers led by 1st Lt. John William Portillano were on combat operation in Sitio Cunalom, Barangay Carabalan when they chanced upon an undetermined number of NPA rebels at around 6:30 a.m.

The firefight led to the wounding of Sgt. Jomar Dolorfino.

Some three hours later, the same group of soldiers was conducting pursuit operations when they encountered another NPA group.

Pvt. Jelord Para-onda was wounded in the clash. – With Raymond Africa
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