ANTEQUERA, Bohol, April 02, 2014 (PIA)--Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Bill Tweddell headed the Parliamentary delegation’s visit here yesterday to see the progress of Australian-supported development efforts in the province and met with local officials to reiterate Australia’s support for Bohol’s development priorities and continued engagement.
Five months after the devastating 7.2 magnitude earthquake that rocked Bohol, the Australian Government has provided P366 million (A$9 million) for immediate relief needs and also to support ongoing recovery and reconstruction activities in the province.
The delegation with Bohol Gov. Edgar Chatto yesterday broke the ground for a P275-million rehabilitation project involving 14 vital Bohol road sections with the aid of the foreign government.
The support, thru the Australian Assistance for International Development (AusAID), does not only reconstruct a total of 124.62 kilometers of roads but also present livelihood opportunities for some 115,000 Boholanos in the beneficiary areas.
The ceremonial groundbreaking was done at the middle of the road fronting the quake-damaged barangay hall of Bungahan in Antequera, which is along the first of the 14 road sections to be worked, the Antequera-Balilihan road via Dorol.
The 13 other road sections for Australian-aided rehabilitation are the Poblacion Inabanga-Lawis road, Inabanga-Lapacan-Magtangtang road, Candumayao-Cabanugan road, Poblacion Catigbian-Rizal-Kagawasan (San Isidro) road, Cahayag (Tubigon)-Banlasan-Cabanugan road, Calape-Pangangan road, Tajang-Sandingan road, Alegria (Catigbian)-Baang-Jagbuaya-Janopol road, Abatan-Agahay-Busao-Toril-Aghao road, Hinawanan (Loay)-Concepcion-Junction (Loboc-Sikatuna) road, Cambuac (Sikatuna)-Lobgob (Sevilla) road, Jct (LIR)-Quinoguitan-Sevilla-Janopol road, and Dimiao-Oac-Bilar road.
Before the ceremonial groundbreaking, Chatto led the Australian officials to a quake victim shelter site visit in barangay Tagubaas in Antequera. The transitional core house has been built with the aid of the Australian government and Catholic Relief Services (Caritas Australia and Caritas Manila) under Project BAROG.
Gov. Chatto was extremely grateful to the visiting officials who included Australian House of Representatives Deputy Speaker Bruce Scott, Senator for South Australia Don Farrell, Senator for Victoria Helen Kroger, Member of the Parliament for Bruce, Victoria Alan Griffin, Member for Hasluck, Western Australia Ken Wyatt, Adviser to the Deputy Speaker Elysia Ruttley, Peter Banson, who is the delegation secretary, and Scott’s wife Joan.
The foreign officials distributed school bags and supplies to Tagubaas Day Care children and Bungahan elementary pupils, who waived Philippine and Australian flags in greeting the foreign visitors.
The delegation was also briefed on the progress of an integrated crop management project funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and implemented by the Bohol Island State University.
They also visited with the alumni of the Australia Awards Scholarships, who are now using their skills and knowledge gained from their Australian education to help in the province’s development.
Australian House of Representatives Deputy Speaker Scott said Bohol was the only Philippine province they visited outside Metro Manila as they “feel part of the Boholano community.”
While Ambassador Tweddell said “the Australian Government has a long-standing development partnership with the province of Bohol – spanning more than 20 years. Australia is pleased to be able to assist the Provincial Government of Bohol and communities recover from the earthquake”. (PIA7-Bohol/ECB)