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Cagayan lawmakers oppose mulled transfer of Cagayan capitol

TUGUEGARAO CITY, Philippines- Several board members raised concerns on the proposed of transfer of Cagayan provincial capitol from Tuguegarao City to Lal-lo.

In a regular session on Wednesday, January 10, the provincial board said such a move would first be approved in the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.

“It is in accordance with the law that in any office transfer, there must be a consent from the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP); any office especially an institution [such] as the [provincial] government of Cagayan,” Vice Governor Melvin “Boy” Vargas Jr said.

This as Vargas asked Provincial Planning and Development Officer (PPDO) Elisa Umoso if the capitol is planned to be moved to the Lal-lo sub-capitol.

Umoso said the sub-capitol will have “bigger and more buildings” because it will serve two districts of Cagayan.

“As explained by our honorable governor [Manuel Mamba] before po, the city of Tuguegarao will later on become an independent or chartered city. So ang sabi din po niya, Tuguegarao City is considered as one of the top five most dangerous cities and it will not be safe anymore to live in Tuguegarao City,” Umoso added.

The planning officer also said the governor is “doing his best” for Tuguegarao City. “Congested na po ang city of Tuguegarao. Kokonti na po yung mga lote na matatawag natin na safe para sa mga tao,” Umoso added.

Meanwhile, Vargas said the proposed 2018 development plan seemingly “disadvantages” Tuguegarao, even though it is already a city, and that development to other towns must also be “balanced.”

He said he observed this through Mamba’s plans to build an international airport in the tri-boundary of Tuao, Piat, and Amulung; and the changing of the provincial government’s address from Tuguegarao to Penablanca “without any process.”

“Ano ba po ang meron sa siyudad ng Tuguegarao po at parang tinatanggalan po natin ang tanging yaman paisa-isa?,” Vargas said.

Meanwhile, the PPDO clarified that their efforts on the Tuguegarao airport is in accordance with the national government’s decongestion policy of Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

Umoso also dismissed the governor had plans to “donate” Cagayan Sports Complex to the capital city in preparation for Cagayan Valley Regional Athletic Meet this February, saying that the provincial-government-owned complex will only be lent to the city.

‘Self-serving’

The board said spending millions solely for buildings and office rehabilitation is “self-serving,” with Vargas suggesting to Umoso to remove SP’s budget and “prioritize the real needs of the province.”

“Kasi hindi po naming kaya dito sa Sangguniang Panlalawigan na ipaprayoridad po yung sarili. It will be self-serving. Marami pa pong kailangang gagawin dito sa probinsya ng Cagayan hindi po yung pagpapaganda po ng mga opisina po natin. The office can exist even though there is no upgrading,” the vice governor said.

Cagayan Board Members Arnold Layus and Cris Barcena also said the airport and sub-capitol’s millions of funds could have been used for social services and health services.

Umoso said buildings are still for “general welfare of the people.” “Gagamitin din po nila lahat ng buildings na icoconstruct dito hindi naman personal na gagamitin,” she said.

Capitol relocation

Governor Mamba earlier said Lal-lo has originally been the capital of Cagayan and that it is strategically located in the heart of the province.

On December, subcapitol administrator Robert Adap said Mamba’s “vision” is to relocate the operations of the main capitol to the 27-hectare wide subcapitol.

A four-storey “main building” worth P95 million is also planned for the sub-capitol aside from a P10 million multipurpose building, P5 million-visitor’s pavilion 5 million, and gas station.

Further, P40 million is allocated for site development, with cross drainage, fencing, illumination, guard house, gates, and a sunken garden. A visitor’s pavilion, pasalubong center, and parking area are also planned.

(READ: Evacuation center, training facility to rise in Cagayan sub-capitol)

Despite the plans, Cagayan Board Member Maria Olivia Pascual said the “intention” to move the capitol to Lal-lo has not been discussed with her husband Mayor Florante Pascual.

“I do not have anything against the transfer or the developments in the municipality of Lal-lo particularly in Bangag. Any development given to that [Lal-lo] will very much benefit our municipality contrary to what the governor has been saying that the Pascuals are not supporting the intention to transfer the provincial capitol [to] Lal-lo,” she said.

The sub-capitol was among the topics discussed in the deliberation of the province’s medium term plan or 2018-2022 Provincial Development Investment Program, in SP’s 71st regular session on Wednesday, January 10. Northernforum.net 

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