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From river journeys to farm-to-market roads

For decades, residents of barangay Minanga in Rizal, Cagayan, one of the remotest areas in the province, had relied on the river as their primary means of transporting their agricultural products, such as corn and tobacco. They used boats to ferry their goods across the waterway because there was no access road connecting them to nearby barangays.

Residents were also fraught with challenges such as seasonal fluctuations in water levels, and the time and effort required were substantial, leaving little room for other productive activities.

Categorized before as one of the insurgency-influenced barangays due to the presence of the terrorist group CPP-NPA-NDF, bringing programs and services to the residents’ doorsteps was difficult because of security and logistical reasons.

But with the birth of Executive Order No. 70, which created the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), residents of Minanga saw hope when the government started pouring in various programs and services for their barangay.

The turning point for the residents of Minanga came with the construction of a paved road connecting their village to the nearby barangays in Rizal town. Barangay Captain Elmerio Echamane said that the infrastructure project marked a significant departure from the traditional reliance on the river.

In 2021, Minanga was one of the 822 barangay beneficiaries that were cleared from the communist insurgency and were provided with 20 million pesos each for their priority projects under the 2021 Local Government Support Fund (LGSF)—Support to Barangay Development Program (SBDP).

Other barangays in the province that were cleared from the communist insurgency are Anuruturu and Liuan in Rizal, Cagayan; Cabatacan East, Cabatacan West, Magsaysay, and Peru in Lasam, Cagayan; Santa Clara in Gonzaga, Cagayan; Calaogan, Cataruan, Maguilling, Minanga, Santa Barbara, and Santo Domingo in Piat, Cagayan; and Bugnay, Lakambini, Mambacag, and San Luis in Tuao, Cagayan.

Cagayan Governor Manuel Mamba (third from left) led the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of farm-to-market road in Minanga, Rizal, Cagayan in November 2021. (PIA File Photo)

The said barangays were also included under the LGSF-SBDF projects for 2021 to 2023.

The SBDP is the flagship program of the NTF-ELCAC, funded under the LGSF, for poverty alleviation and development in geographically isolated and former communist conflict-affected areas.

After being considered one of the recipients of SBDP, the task force, through the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), conducted public consultation with the residents to determine which projects must be prioritized, and the residents agreed to have a farm-to-market road because they recognized that this is a lifeline that enables them to transport their goods to markets and provides them with improved access to essential services.

Aside from the farm-to-market road, the residents also proposed to have a new barangay health station.

Recently, the DILG-Regional Project Development and Management Unit, through the Cagayan Provincial Inspection Team, conducted inspection and monitoring of the completed 2021 Local Government Support Fund-Support to the Barangay Development Program (LGSF-SBDP) projects in barangay Minanga to validate the conformance of the implemented projects against the national standards and policy guidelines.

THEN AND NOW. The left photo shows the situation in barangay Minanga, Rizal, Cagayan in 2021, where no access road was implemented, while the right photo shows the completed farm-to-market road inspected by the SBDP Provincial Inspection team on October 5, 2023.(PIA Photo)

Part of the Cagayan Provincial Inspection Team were representatives from the DILG, National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA), National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP), Department of Agriculture (DA), Philippine Information Agency (PIA), Provincial Government of Cagayan, Provincial Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (PTC-ELCAC), Philippine Army through the Bravo Company of the 17th Infantry Battalion, Cagayan Police Provincial Office, and Local Government Unit of Rizal.

Echamane, during the briefing, expressed his gratitude to the government for fulfilling its promise to implement the said projects, which were personally identified by his constituents during the public consultation conducted almost three years ago.

“Nagpapasalamat po ako, sir, sa ibinigay na tulong ng NTF-ELCAC sa barangay namin dito, kasi malaking tulong po itong naibigay na pondo. Kasi noon wala talagang kalsada, ngayon nagkakalsada na,” said Echamane.

“Ang mga ka-barangay ko nasiyahan sa ating kalsada, kaya sobrang nagpapasalamat po ako sa NTF-ELCAC, sir. Sana mayroon pa pong ibang tulong na ibigay sa aming barangay, sir,” the barangay captain added.

Reslyn Crisostomo, 19, also a resident of Minanga, shared the same sentiments with their barangay captain, as she said that the impact of the newly completed road on the entire community was transformative.

“Ang hanap-buhay po namin ay magtanim po ng mais. Nagpapasalamat po ako sa NTF-ELCAC kasi nagawa na po yung kalsada kaya hindi na po kami nahihirapan,” she added.

As a farmer, Crisostomo said that transporting their products to the market became easier, and her husband could now load their produce onto a sturdy truck and make the journey in a fraction of the time it took by river.

Echamane and Crisostomo also expressed their gratitude to the provincial government, saying that even though the access road leading to the identified site for pavement was not part of the program works, Cagayan Governor Manuel Mamba has instructed the engineering office to implement it to fast-track the project completion.

The completed Barangay Health Station in Minanga, Rizal, Cagayan. (PIA Photo)

On the other hand, the paved road also facilitated access to essential services like healthcare and education, improving the overall quality of life in the village.

With the recent completion of the Barangay Health Station, medical personnel from the Rural Health Unit will now have an improved and comfortable space to carry out their monthly medical check-ups and other healthcare-related activities within the barangay.

The story of the residents of Barangay Minanga illustrates the remarkable impact that infrastructure, such as paved roads, can have on rural communities. What was once a tale of struggle and uncertainty when relying on a river for transportation, especially for their goods, has evolved into a narrative of convenience, economic growth, and improved quality of life. (MDCT/PIA Cagayan)

About the Author

Mark Djeron Tumabao

Regional Editor and Social Media Manager

Region 2

An ordinary writer from Cagayan Province. 

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