By Joseph B.A. Marzan
Several members of the House of Representatives on Thursday filed a resolution calling for an investigation into the situation of the controversial Ungka and Aganan flyovers in the city and province of Iloilo amid speculations on the projects’ structural integrity and work delays.
House Resolution No. 721 was filed by Representatives Raoul Danniel Manuel (Kabataan Party-List), Arlene Brosas (GABRIELA Party-List), and France Castro (ACT Teachers Party-List), urging their colleagues “to conduct a legislative inquiry into the defects of the Ungka Flyover and delays on the Aganan Flyover in Iloilo in the interest of transparency and accountability.”
The resolution cited the partial opening of the ₱680-million Ungka Flyover on July 30, 2022 and its full opening on September 5, and its eventual closure almost two weeks later due to growing sentiments on structural issues, particularly its sinking piers or foundations.
It also brought to the fore the delay in the completion of the ₱560-million Aganan Flyover, which was scheduled to be in July 2022. The project has been halted due to looming changes in its design apart from its proximity to the problematic Ungka flyover.
“[H]eavy traffic brought about by the closure of the Ungka Flyover and delayed completion of the Aganan Flyover has adverse impacts on the daily lives of commuters and jeepney drivers,” the resolution read.
“[T]he construction of the flyovers caused hardships on residents and small businesses located near the project sites, and such hardships only aggravate while issues concerning the two flyovers remain largely unresolved,” it added.
Citing inquiries already conducted by the Sangguniang Bayan of Pavia town into the flyovers, the resolution emphasized the need for Congress to step in.
“[T]he commitment of the House of Representatives to good governance compels an investigation into multi-million-peso projects that would not have been possible without the use of funds from the Filipino people,” it said.
This is the fourth call for a legislative inquiry into the flyover, after those pushed for and conducted by the local governments of Pavia town, Iloilo City, and Iloilo province.
Manuel had already confirmed to Daily Guardian on January 8 that he would be filing a resolution in the House a day after he visited the Ungka Flyover for an ocular inspection.
In an online press briefing, Manuel said that they have not yet reached out to Reps. Julienne Baronda (Iloilo City-Lone) and Michael Gorriceta (Iloilo-2nd) in whose districts the flyovers are located, but he is planning to lobby his resolution with them and other House members.
Gorriceta had previously told Bombo Radyo Iloilo that he would support the resolution should it be filed in the House.
“We had to ensure that we could file the resolution because the Ilonggos deserve to explore different avenues for the questions on these flyovers to be answered,” Manuel said.
“We don’t want to preempt the moves of our fellow legislators especially those in the majority, but on our part, we’re doing what we can do, and it would depend on them [whether or not they would support it]. This legislative inquiry is for us inside Congress to discuss the defects in the construction of Ungka Flyover, and the completion of the not-yet-finished Ungka Flyover,” he added.
Should the resolution gain enough support in the House to move forward to an eventual investigation, Manuel, who also hails from Iloilo, said that it would likely be conducted by the Public Works and Highways committee chaired by Rep. Romeo Momo (Surigao del Sur-1st district).
In a January 16 press conference, Uswag Ilonggo Rep. James Ang affirmed his support for the probe resolution should Manuel ever file for it, despite being related to the family which owns the contractor for both projects, the International Builders Corp.
Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas also expressed his support for the inquiry, telling Daily Guardian via text message, “Perhaps that is needed for [DPWH] to [fast-track] what is needed for the flyovers to be used. There should be some urgency.”
Treñas last year made separate calls in letters to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to update the local governments and the public on the status of the two flyovers.
Daily Guardian also reached out to Baronda and Pavia town councilor Jose Maria Trimañez, chairperson of the Sangguniang Bayan’s transportation committee, but they have yet to respond as of this writing.