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Issue of February 4, 2018
     
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Dialogue held over proposed parking lot in provincial plaza
by PIO&ndahs;Mt. Province

BONTOC, Mountain Province – The provincial government spearheaded a consultation on Tuesday about the issues, concerns, and sentiments brought about by the construction of a parking lot beside the sangguniang panlalawigan building.

The stakeholders’ consultation aimed to enlighten the constituents and to answer queries, issues and concerns raised by opposing groups regarding the “Improvement of the Provincial Plaza and Construction of Parking Space at Provincial Plaza” project of the provincial government.

Among the concerns raised were lack of consultation, stability of provincial plaza, loss of the historical value of the garden, and that the parking lot will cater to provincial government employees and not to clients.

The different groups and individuals who do not favor the construction requested that the project be transferred to other lots in Bontoc owned by provincial government. They suggested considering the provincial swimming pool area, the vacant lot below the hospital, and the Girls Scouts of the Philippines building to be used for the planned four-story parking lot.

Citing the importance of the area to heritage, they also suggested preserving the garden for the future generation to see as part of history.

Others said the parking lot will be out of place and will destroy the view of the Capitol.

Others also feared that building a parking lot in the area will pave way for other buildings that will destroy the view of the provincial plaza.

In their prior consultation with the governor, the women’s group also suggested building a parking lot at the Chico River. They suggested strengthening the old Samoki Bridge and constructing a two-lane parking space, although this could now be the concern of the Department of Public Works and Highways.

Retired teacher Tomasa O. Sangayab earlier suggested for the provincial government to ask assistance from the District Engineer in reclaiming the road-right-of-way starting from the site of a food establishment to the property adjacent to the Cathedral of All Saints. She said the provincial government can use it as pay parking space, thus, providing additional revenue.

Rev. Fr. Marcial Lloyd C. Castañeda raised his concern on the rights of the dwellers to be informed and consulted. He observed the absence of the project’s perspective and a developmental plan for the passersby or the public to see.

He earlier expressed the same concern in a letter to the governor. The same sentiments were raised in another letter by the Office of Bishop Brent Harry W. Alawas of the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Philippines.

Gov. Bonifacio C. Lacwasan, Jr. said it is not his intention to destroy the portion of the provincial plaza.

“All I wish is to help in addressing the parking and traffic issues in our place,” he said.

He deemed the space to be a strategic place to put up a parking lot since it is observed that the there is a lack of parking space at the Capitol, which is congested when clients bring their vehicles when transacting business in the capitol.

Provincial Administrator Amador P. Batay-an said the parking space will be used for the public and not for the officials and employees of the provincial government.

As to the lack of prior consent, Atty. Edward F. Chumawar of the Provincial Disaster Risk and Reduction Management Office said the provincial government projects are approved by the Provincial Development Council.

“Since the membership of the PDC is composed of the mayors and sectoral representatives, the provincial government understood that the consultation is the same with approval of PDC and sangguniang panlalawigan appropriation,” Chumawar said.

The project is funded under the general fund and is among the projects to be implemented for 2018.

The provincial government also maintains three posting areas of projects and activities for transparency purposes.

Chumawar, supported by Provincial Legal Counsel Tomas A. Kiwang,  added that the Local Government Code and the Indigenous Peoples’ Right Act do not require prior consultations for PLGU projects to commence. Kiwang said consultations only apply to national government projects.

Engr. Salvador Akoking of the Provincial Engineer’s Office showed the perspective plan for the parking lot, which will have two stories and a basement/storage area. It is designed to house about 30 to 40 vehicles.

Lacwasan intends to stop the implementation of the project to allow for further study and find a win-win solution on the matter.

 
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