FOR several years, local residents of Barangays Santa Lucia Young and Santa Lucia Old in Zaragoza, Nueva Ecija were having a taste of hell, walking and traveling to and from the town proper through a 2.6-kilometer road that turned dusty during summer and sticky muddy during rainy season.
The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and the Zaragoza municipal government have recently launched the P18.5-million farm-to-market road that would put behind the back of the 3,794 local residents memories of past hardships that they had endured over that stretch they used to call as the “Road to Calvary.”
“Hopefully, going to and fro the town proper from here onward will be ‘a walk in the park’ for our farmer-beneficiaries and other residents in the two barangays,” DAR-Central Luzon Regional Director Arnel Dizon said shortly after the turnover ceremonies graced by Zaragoza town Mayor Lovella “Lally” Belmonte-Espiritu.
As if this farm-to-market road was not enough, the DAR also turned over to Belmonte-Espiritu two more projects, a potable water system and a day-care center. They were parts of the P29.8-million package that the department implemented in tandem with the Agrarian Reform Infrastructure Support Project (ARISP), a foreign-assisted project financed by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
Dizon expressed his appreciation to the all-out support extended by the Zaragoza municipal government, which made the implementation of the projects possible.
The local government contributed P5 million as counterpart equity for the three projects, P2.4 million for the farm-to-market road, P2.5 million for the construction of an elevated water tank for the potable water system for 216 households, and P100,000 for the day-care center that is attending to 914 children.
Mayor Belmonte-Espiritu said local residents had suffered long and hard, waiting for the road to be concreted. Now, they can finally walk through it and transport their farm produce to the market with relative ease.
Belmonte-Espiritu also returned the compliment to the DAR for picking up her municipality as one of the many recipients of various support services aimed at enhancing farm productivity and increasing household income, promoting health care like the provision of the potable water system, and attending to the needs of parents and their children through the day-care center.
Earlier, the DAR turned over to the Rizal municipal government the P18-million farm-to-market road, covering 5.37 kilometers. It links up Barangays Canaan East and West, Sasiligan and General Luna to the town proper.