“I thought death would come sooner than these roads,” said Tam Salambat using local dialect, a former rebel and now a village elder in Lam Salome in the town of T’boli in the province of South Cotabato. The statement from Salambat came after the completion of a P108-million road project in their community.
“I am grateful to the government for giving us farmers this project because it is now easier to transport our produce to the town,” he added.
The said road project is part of the national government’s Payapa at Masaganang Pamayanan (PAMANA) Program, which is overseen and monitored by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP).
Salambat said the farmers no longer have to walk for five hours while carrying their heavy load of produce on muddy paths in the mountain. During the summer, it used to take three hours to travel the mountain the mountain. Today, it takes local farmers only 45 minutes to transport their produce to the market downtown.
“We never thought that we will have a 13-kilometer road finished in just one year. Forty years, and this is the first time we have received a program of this magnitude from the government,” T’boli Mayor Dibu S. Tuan said.
Another P21 million has been allocated to finance livelihood programs in Barangays Lambuling, Salome, and Maan in T’boli.