Closure of Kennon Road decided by agencies, not just the DPWH
This pertains to the letter of Noel C. Mallari entitled, “We need engineers who build roads, not who count money” published in the Jan. 12 issue of the Courier in reaction to the published letter of Juniper Dominguez concerning the closure of Kennon Road.
Inasmuch as we have already explained the matter to the media and in several fora, we would like to provide a brief response.
The management of the temporary opening and closing of Kennon Road is under the Joint Inter-Agency Task Group Kennon headed by the Office of Civil Defense-Cordillera because the issue is environmental and/or geological in nature.
The 1968 Bureau of Mines report stated that the slopes surrounding Kennon Road were already heavily fractured at the time.
The 2003 Japan International Cooperation Agency field survey report stated that Kennon Road was heavily damaged after the 1990 earthquake in Benguet, causing its closure to vehicles weighing 10 tons or more such as large buses, trucks, etc.
Despite the dangers of landslides and rock fall, the national road has been regularly maintained by the Department of Public Works and Highways due to the fact that communities and economic zones exist in the area, being the shortest route to Baguio City.
While previous assessments say that rock fall and slides occur during rainy or typhoon seasons, recent data shows that the same are already occurring even in good weather. To date, experts have already identified 21 critical sections which is an increase of 57.14 percent from the initial assessment conducted more than a year ago.
The decisions made on the road line are supported by the expert assessment of concerned government agencies such as the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, Department of Science and Technology, OCD, Philippine National Police, local government units, and Land Transportation Office, and not just mere layman’s knowledge.
In view of the continuous circulation of misinformation on the closure of Kennon Road, we encourage the public to be more discerning of the reports they are receiving particularly on the intentions of unscrupulous individuals or groups, pretending to be knowledgeable on the matter, but are just conveniently spreading misinformation, insinuating that the involved DPWH-CAR engineers are engaging in corrupt practices. Please rely on authorized/expert sources only as safety of the public is at stake. — TIBURCIO L. CANLAS, DPWH-CAR director, Baguio City