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Malaysian firm interested to study Trans-axial hi-way

| by: Xerxes Alkuino

Cebu Capitol’s Trans Axial Highway project gained attraction as a Malaysian firm expressed interest to conduct the feasibility study.

Governor Hilario P. Davide III said they expect to receive the unsolicited proposal from the Malaysian group in the third week of September.

In the process, the provincial government saved Php 9.167 million intended for its pre-implementation expenses.

The Provincial Development Council (PDC) Executive Committee (Execom) in its meeting last September 10 re-aligned the fund. It will be now used as Capitol’s counterpart fund in the implementation of the Philippine Rural Development Program (PRDP) of the Department of Agriculture.

“We have decided to re-align this to other projects because there has been a (not officially though) proposal from a Malaysian firm to undertake the feasibility study of the project,” said Gov. Davide.

Provincial Planning and Development Office Officer-in-Charge Benigno Cris Lucero said the submission of the unsolicited proposal means the firm would conduct the study at their own expense.

Provincial Board Member Grecilda “Gigi” Sanchez, who asked the reason of the re-alignment of fund, opened the discussion on the project.

To recall, it was her father the late Vice Governor Greg Sanchez Jr. who spawned the idea of a Trans-Axial Highway to stimulate economic activities in the mountain barangays.

The elder Sanchez was elected as vice governor for three terms (2004-2010). However, the project failed to progress until his death in April 2011.

Gov. Davide vowed to pursue the project, which he also believed as a key to decongest Metro Cebu’s urban area.

Aside from the re-alignment of funds, the PDC Execom also approved and endorsed the Bantayan Island Wilderness Area (BIWA) General Management Plan (GMP) to the Regional Development Council (RDC) 7 and the Disaster Risk and Vulnerability Assessment Report of the Province of Cebu.

The Department of Natural and Environment Resources (DENR) 7 Regional Executive Director Isabelo “Boy” Montejo said the GMP is in answer to an environment court order.

The court suspended the issuance of Environmental Certificate Compliance (ECC) to potential investors in the island. Thus, the development of the island was stalled. Without the ECC, land development is considered illegal.

The compliance of the court order would also remove the classification of the entire Bantayan Island as a wilderness area. Bantayan was declared a protected area by virtue of Presidential Proclamation 2151 issued in 1981. However, there are also portions that are suited for and actually used for residential, farming, commercial or industrial purposes.

In the GMP, the DENR 7 identified 11,244.67 hectares of land as alienable and disposable while 596.14 hectares as proposed protected area.

Gov. Davide hoped the submission of the GMP will be made a basis for the re-classification of lands in Bantayan Island. This means the government would be allowed to issue land titles in the areas not classified as timberland.

Montejo said once the GMP is approved by the RDC, they will submit the GMP to the DENR Secretary, who will be the one to submit it to the court.

The components of the GMP include the delineation and inventory of structures within the 20 meter easement zone. This also includes the formulation of comprehensive planning strategy that identifies mangrove and water re-charge areas in the island as well as the registration of all inhabitants in the protected area.