PALACE OFFICIAL: Iloilo-Guimaras bridge is Duterte’s top priority

CABINET Secretary Karlo Nograles. (Photo courtesy of Assitant Sec. Sylton Solidum)

By: Gerome Dalipe

THE Duterte administration is prioritizing the proposed construction of the Panay-Guimaras-Negros bridge, a Palace official said.

But the proposal needs to undergo several requirements such as visibility study and approval by the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), said Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles.

“We are doing everything how we can speed up the process. But this project needs to comply with several requirements,” Nograles told reporters in an interview.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon earlier renewed calls for the immediate construction of the bridge following the Aug. 3 sinking of three wooden-hulled bancas that killed 31 people between Iloilo and Guimaras strait.

Drilon had urged the national government to proceed with the construction of the Iloilo-Guimaras bridge.

With the deaths of 31 people, Drilon said it is high time the bridge should be constructed to protect the riding public.

Of the 83 total passengers from the three bancas, 31 died while 65 survived due to strong winds caused by the low-pressure area and enhanced by the southwest monsoon, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council.

President Duterte has ordered the Coast Guard to look into the reason behind the mishap to determine whether the tragedy was caused by nature, structure, equipment, among others.

The ongoing investigation also aims at enhancing policies on security and safety of the riding public as the top priority.

The project — covering two bridges connecting Guimaras to Iloilo in Panay island and the other to Negros — is currently undergoing a feasibility study funded by China.

In the interview, Nograles said the Duterte administration will not hesitate to proceed with the construction of the bridge once all the requirements are complied with.

Nograles said he will raise the matter during their Cabinet meeting with the President.

“If we can fast track it, we will. I am positive that the President will support the project after we will be able to complete the required documents,” said Nograles.