September 9, 2014, Tuesday, I was expected to arrive at nine o’clock in the morning at SM Pampanga where Engr. Juanafe Magpayo (DPWH Region III Project Engineer) will be fetching me. My “travel order” (term used by the government officials for a fieldwork agenda) is scheduled to local track RB 41 or the Pampanga and Nueva Ecija sites of the Post Ondoy and Pepeng Short-Term Infrastructure Rehabilitation Project (POPSTIRP) from September 9-10, 2014. For today, we are scheduled to visit two (2) sites in Nueva Ecija. Engr. Magpayo and Engr. Lourdino Soriano (Project Inspector) will be assisting me in the field visit.
The first site is located at the Daang Maharlika Road, Nueva Ecija which is almost a two-hour ride from SM Pampanga. The project is designed to repair and rehabilitate the eroded bank protection along the Dig-Dig River. The project design was proposed in two sites along the Daang Maharlika Road. However the second bank protection project did not push through due to a property rights issue. Nonetheless, the funding allocated to the said project was included in the budget for the Pampanga site. The bank protection is the only completed project among the five proposed projects in RB 41.
The second site is located at the Pantabangan road, Nueva Ecija, about two hours by car from Daang Maharlika road. Pantabangan Highway is the connecting road going to Aurora Province, located at the boundary of Regions III and II. According to Engr. Magpayo, the current construction of the slope protection along the highway was based on a third revision plan. The third revision was re-approved to consider the current condition of the road and slope in the design of the project. Engr. Magpayo teamed up with the Bureau of Design and the investigation-surveying team of the DPWH. However she reflects that this is not only the reason for the delay of the project.
Engr. Magpayo says that the delay of the implementation was also due to the delay of approval by the DPWH Secretary Rogelio L. Singson. “Ang tagal i-approve ni secretary yung revised proposal, minsan umaabot ng 78 days. Kaya kapag nadedelay ang approval, pag-balik namin eh iba nanaman ang condition kaya kailangan ulit mag-survey at magrevise ng plan.” (The revised proposal is not immediately approved by the secretary, sometimes it takes up to 78 days. If the delay happens, when we come back to the site, the actual condition changes and we need to re-survey the area and revise the plan).
Based on the third revised plan, the slope protection adjacent to the highway will include an extension slope down to the natural ground to further strengthen the foundation of the concrete slope. According to Engr. Magpayo, the revised plan is better than the initial plan (hanging slope) which was designed by the DPWH-Nueva Ecija District office. She said that a more stable and strong foundation of the slope will also minimize the damages (longitudinal cracks) along the highway.
Engr. Soriano said that the project is not intended for adaptation but rather rehabilitation of damage caused by the typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng last 2009 and preparedness for upcoming episodic disasters.
Pantabangan road and Daang Maharlika are two of the busiest national highways in the Philippines, frequently used by commuters (private and bus) as well as cargo vehicles that transport goods in and out of the region. Engr. Soriano assures that the local municipalities, transport groups, and tourists are benefiting from their efforts.
There’s much more to know about the Region III rehabilitation project as we complete our local tracking when we finally visit the last site in Pampanga and interview the division chief.
Editor’s Note: This blog is part of the series of blogs on the local tracking of JICA funded adaptation projects implemented by DPWH. Read more about DPWH by clicking in the link Back on Track