House edict stops Halsema toll despite DPWH opposition

>> Thursday, March 23, 2017

By Erlindo Agwilang Jr.

TUBLAY, Benguet -- Despite opposition from the Department of Public Works and Highways and a Cordillera congressmen, the special committee on North Luzon Growth Quadrangle approved House Bill 4570, a measure seeking to abolish the Baguio-Bontoc Halsema Highway National Toll Road and terminating the collection of toll fees therein.
                Principal sponsor Mountain Province Rep. Maximo B. Dalog said there was need to unburden motorists particularly farmers regularly using the route along this town to transport vegetables and farm products from toll fee collection, which he believed is actually being collected redundantly considering that the motor vehicle user’s charge is also being imposed by the government to motor vehicle owners.
                Of  28 committee members, only Baguio Rep. Mark O. Go was opposed to the measure saying there was no compelling reason to terminate the collection of fees.
                Although in favor, Reps. Ronald M. Cosalan of Benguet and Allen Jesse Mangaoang of Kalinga, also co-authors of the bill said they were concerned about the 12 current employees who may be displaced once the toll road is abolished.
                Rep. Luisa Lloren Cuaresma of Nueva Vizcaya was quick to guarantee that the employees affected will not be removed as they can be easily absorbed by their mother unit in the department considering that their positions are plantilla items.
                After hearing all position and comments of committee members and resource persons from the DPWH, HB 4570 was approved subject to the compliance of the agency to resolve the issue over the 12 plantilla positions that will be affected.
                Also submitted to the committee were various manifestations and resolutions supporting the abolition from the different local government units of Mountain Province, Benguet and Baguio City namely: City Council of Baguio City, Association of Barangay Captains of Baguio City, City Councilors League of Tabuk City; Governor’s Office,  Sangguniang Panlalawigan, Sangguniang Bayan of Mankayan, La Trinidad, Kabayan, Buguias, all of Benguet Benguet.
                Other supporters of the bill included Office of the Governor, Sangguniang Panlalawigan, Sanggunian Bayan of Sagada, Besao,  Sadanga and  Bontoc, all of Mountain Province.


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