Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Mark Villar led the groundbreaking of an Army headquarters and tactical operations center at Fort Ramon Magsaysay, home of the 7th Infantry Division in Palayan City, Nueva Ecija.

Villar said the project is part of the P200-million package for military bases to be built under the DPWH-Department of National Defense (DND) Convergence Program which is also known as Tatag ng Imprastruktura Para sa Kapayapaan at Seguridad (TIKAS)  which is part of the Duterte administration’s “Build, Build, Build” program.

The public works chief was accompanied by DPWH-Central Luzon director Roseller Tolentino, DPWH assistant regional director Denise Maria Ayag and Nueva Ecija 2nd Engineering District chief Ricardo Puno and was welcomed by Maj. Gen. Lenard Agustin, commander of the 7th Infantry Division.

“This is a concept of President Duterte.”

“Ito po ay concept ni Pangulong (Rodrigo) Dutere at ngayon po ay makikita po natin sa lahat ng mga bases meron pong infrastructure projects (This is a concept of President Duterte and now we can see that there are infrastructure projects in all bases),” said Villar, adding that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is in dire need of new and renovated facilities.

“Dahil kung titingnan ninyo yung mga facilities nila, kulang na kulang yung barracks, lumang luma na,” he said. (Because as you can see their facilities, barracks are not enough and too old).

The construction and renovation of military facilities, Villar said, are covered by the comprehensive “Build, Build, Build” program of the government.

“Comprehensive po talaga at actually ngayon lang nagkaroon ng ganitong proyekto. Dati po kasi walang programa para sa military,” Villar said. (It is really comprehensive and actually, it is only now that there is such a kind of project. Before, there was no such program for the military).

The program, he said, is aimed at making sure that soldiers have enough facilities.

“Napakalaki ng sakripisyo nila para sa bayan. Ito po kung tutuusin ang ginagawa nating infrastructure ay maliit lang kumpara sa sakripisyo nila,” Villar added. (Their sacrifices for the nation are too big. These infrastructures are small compared to their sacrifices).

“These infrastructures are small compared to their sacrifices.”

The new 2-story headquarters at Fort Magsaysay will replace a 50-year-old building which will be transformed into a museum for military displays. Construction of the over P40 million new headquarters is expected to be completed by December 2020 and will be furnished with basic furnishings, including air-conditioning units, Villar said.

Meanwhile, Tolentino said aside from the new headquarters, the DPWH is also set to build five more  facilities inside the sprawling military camp.

These include a two-story administration building and a four-story transient facility for the Light Reaction Regiment (LRR), and a hangar which is necessary for maintenance, repair, manufacture, assembly and storage of aircraft at the Aviation Regiment (AR).

“We will also develop a 7.261-kilometer road network and will eventually connect the LRR to SF (Special Forces) to Molave Complex,” Villar said.

Agustin, on the other hand, said the projects are “another milestone” in the history of the 7th Infantry Division.

He said this can be considered “a prize for our hard work.”

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