Datu Blah Sinsuat highway project gaining headway

GOVERNANCE/POLITICS • Wed Aug 23, 2017 03:46 PM  •  87   0
By John Unson
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A newly-concreted portion of the Datu Blah Sinsuat coastal highway project. (JOHN UNSON)
A newly-concreted portion of the Datu Blah Sinsuat coastal highway project. (JOHN UNSON)
MAGUINDANAO --- Engineers are now constructing a road through the shoreline of a historic seaside town where Americans landed weapons for friendly Moro forces during World War II.

Lawyer Ishak Mastura, chairman of the Regional Board of Investments-Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, said Wednesday that the highway project will usher in improvements in the economy of the beneficiary town, Datu Blah Sinsuat, once completed.

The 78.01-kilometer road project, costing P1.8 billion, will connect the western coast of Maguindanao, a component province of ARMM, to the coastal town of Lebak in Sultan Kudarat province in Region 12.

It was only in 2016 when the municipality of Datu Blah Sinsuat in the west coast of Maguindanao province got connected by overland arteries to Cotabato City and its immediate neighbors, Datu Odin Sinsuat and North Upi towns in Maguindanao.

People there relied only on boats as conveyance to trading centers, schools and hospitals in central Mindanao.

The executive department of ARMM started constructing the 78.01 kilometer Tapian-Datu Blah-Lebak Highway more than a year ago using funds from the region’s yearly infrastructure subsidy from the national coffer.

Datu Blah Sinsuat Mayor Raida Tomawis-Sinsuat said Wednesday there are now economic developments ushered in by the road project, a stretch of which connects Barangay Tapian in Datu Odin Sinsuat to Barangay Matuber, which is under her jurisdiction.

The road project was started when the mayor’s spouse, Datu Marshall Sinsuat, was yet chief executive of the municipality.

The incumbent mayor, elected to office only last May 2016, said she and her constituents are thankful to ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman and to his regional public works secretary, Engineer Don Loong, for embarking on the project.

Members of motorcycle clubs, mountain bikers and domestic tourists from Cotabato City, the administrative capital of ARMM, have lately been frequenting the scenic spots traversed by the finished portions of the highway.

Datu Blah Sinsuat was originally part of Maguindanao’s North Upi municipality, which has more than 30 barangays, 11 of them located along the Moro Gulf.

These 11 barangays were taken out from North Upi and grouped together under Datu Blah Sinsuat, created about a decade ago by the ARMM’s 24-member Regional Legislative Assembly.

The municipality was named after World War II guerilla leader Datu Blah Sinsuat, who also served as congressman in the 1960s and, subsequently, as assemblyman in the Batasang Pambansa during the time of President Ferdinand Marcos.

There are stories by older folk in Datu Blah Sinsuat purporting how small boats of the then United States Armed Forces in the Far East delivered clandestinely thousands of assorted rifles to beaches there for dispersal to Moro guerilla groups in central Mindanao about a year before Philippines was liberated from Japanese occupation in 1945.

The town hall of Datu Blah Sinsuat is located at Barangay Pura, which the ARMM government already connected through a newly-opened road to North Upi via another artery that cuts through mountainous terrains. Barangay Pura is not too distant from Barangay Penansaran, seat of power of the late Datu Onting Sinsuat, father-in-law of the present town mayor.
 
The construction of the ARMM-sponsored P370 million, 21.7-kilometer North Upi-Datu Blah Sinsuat Highway was started ahead of the Datu Blah Sinsuat coastal highway project.

North Upi Mayor Ramon Piang said Wednesday the transport of marine products from Datu Blah Sinsuat is easier and faster now as a result of the construction of the upland road, now being concreted too.

Piang said the LGU of Datu Blah Sinsuat is helping ensure the completion of the road project by protecting construction workers and their heavy equipment.
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