South Korean Ambassador to the Philippines Han Dong-Man and Korean Export-Import Bank (KEXIM) Bank Country Director Sungho Jang were guests of honor in the groundbreaking ceremony of the Samar Pacific Coastal Road Project on 31 May 2018 at Barangay Simora, Palapag, Northern Samar.

DPWH Secretary Mark A. Villar led the groundbreaking, together with DPWH Undersecretary Emil K. Sadain, Philippine Ambassador to Papua New Guinea Bienvenido Tejano, Northern Samar Governor Jose Ong, Jr., Northern Samar Vice-Governor Gary Lavin, Northern Samar 2nd District Representative Edwin Ong, former Congressman Emil Ong, DPWH VIII Regional Director Edgar Tabacon, 8ID Commanding General Raul Farnacio, and NEDA Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia represented by Engr. Ernesto Octavano of NEDA VIII. The project contractor, ILSUNG Construction Co., and other government officials were also present during the event.

The said 11.607-kilometer road project with 3 bridges, namely: 161-lineal meter Simora Bridge, 31-lineal meter Jangtud 1 Bridge, and 69-lineal meter Jangtud 2 Bridge will be funded by the Government of Korea (GOK) under KEXIM Bank, Economic Development Cooperation Fund Loan No. PHL-14 and Government of the Philippines (GOP). It has a cost of PhP997,500,000.74 and is set to be completed by March 2020.

The project, which would serve primarily the municipalities of Palapag, Mapanas, Gamay and Lapinig, Northern Samar, will be implemented by the Unified Project Management Office-Roads Management Cluster II of the DPWH under the Project Management Team of Engineer Teresita Bauzon and Northern Samar 2nd District Engineer Ferdinand Briones.

Sometime in 2016, RDC VIII endorsed the said project by virtue of RDC VIII Resolution No. 120, s. 2016, entitled “Endorsing to the National Government, Particularly the DPWH, the Extension of the Korea-Economic Development Cooperation Fund (EDCF) Loan for the Samar Pacific Coastal Road (SPCR) Project”. This was endorsed upon recommendation of the RDC VIII-Regional Project Monitoring Committee (RPMC) to consider and support the proposal through RDC VIII-RPMC Resolution No. 7, s. 2016, since the scope of the project was not part of the original proposal.

The Investment Coordination Committee (ICC) of the NEDA Board has approved on 6 December 2017 the loan validity extension of this project from 18 January 2018 to 17 January 2020. From January 2018, the groundbreaking was moved to May 2018, owing to the detailed procedures in the bidding process. The completion date was adjusted accordingly.

The road project, which will connect Catarman via full land travel with the coastal municipalities of Northern Samar to Taft, Eastern Samar, is seen to stimulate economic growth and will support the government’s priority thrusts of inclusive growth, peacekeeping, eliminating insurgency, and providing access to hard-to-reach areas in the Samar Island.

Matthew B. Añosa, PDIPBD, NEDA VIII