Senators yesterday pushed for the construction of a 13-kilometer bridge that will connect the islands of Panay and Guimaras (Panay-Guimaras Bridge).
Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon criticized the government during the Senate Committee on Finance’s hearing on the budget of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) for the delay in the construction of the Panay-Guimaras Bridge (Phase 1) and Guimaras-Negros Bridge (Phase 2).
“To be honest, I am totally disappointed at the attention given to this project as evidenced by the timetable that you have just mentioned. Nakakalungkot na matatapos ito by 2030, nine years from now. I guess that is what we have to face. I just want the NEDA and this government to be candid and tell this is what it is kaysa paasahin ang mga tao,” Drilon said.
NEDA told Drilon that the detailed engineering study may start in October 2022 and the construction may commence in 2025 and be finished by 2030.
But the timetable is not acceptable with the Ilonggo senator who has been pushing for the Panay-Guimaras Bridge.
“I have been following this up with you. Hindi ako nagkukulang. I cannot understand this inordinate delay. I can only point to the obvious lack of attention and support for this very important project,” Drilon said.
“My people in Region VI expected this because it will improve their lives and it will be opening up a tourist destination which would be substantial in terms of revenues and in terms of improvement of the lives of people in Guimaras,” the Ilonggo senator stressed.
Senate Committee of Finance chairman Sen. Sonny Angara, Sen. Pia Cayetano and Sen. Francis Tolentino joined Drilon in pushing for an early construction of the much-needed bridge.
“I think the Iloilo-Guimaras Bridge should be a case study for public administration students on how to stretch out a project as long as you can. Since 2016 pinag-uusapan na iyan. Every budget season ay pinag-uusapan at pina-follow-up assiduously by our minority leader and now we are told that it will be completed by 2030 in a decade and a half,” Angara said at the hearing.
“It is just a 10 to 13 kilometers bridge that is a geographical feature that has been with us for at least a century. I don’t know what has taken so long. You ought to look at your procedures,” Angara told NEDA Sec. Karl Chua.
Chua committed to reviewing the timeline, adding he will meet with DOF and DPWH to review the timeline.
The Panay-Guimaras Bridge was included as among the “Build Build Build” projects of the administration but it remains on the drawing board months before the Duterte administration ends.
It is divided into two sections: the 13-km Panay-Guimaras Bridge and the 19.47-km Guimaras-Negros Bridge.
Drilon said the bridge will improve inter-connectivity and provide safer and faster transportation of passengers and goods and services in Region VI./WDJ