By: Emme Rose Santiagudo
SENATE Minority Leader Frank Drilon urged the national government to proceed with the proposed Panay-Guimaras-Negros bridge even as he sympathized with the victims of the Iloilo Strait tragedy on Friday.
“I feel very sad of the tragedy. I urge the national government to already proceed with the Iloilo-Guimaras bridge. It is really high time and the tragedy which claimed the 31 lives of the passengers should be a justification to consider the building of the project,” he said in an interview on Friday shortly after the turnover of the newly-restored University of the Philippines (UPV) main building at the UPV Iloilo City campus.
According to Drilon, the 14-km Panay-Guimaras-Negros project, which is estimated to cost around P9 to P14 billion, is still undergoing feasibility study.
“There is a feasibility study funded by China, one year of feasibility study which started this January and supposed to be completed by the end of the year. We do not know what exactly the status is but we do hope that this feasibility study is finished on time so that the construction can commence,” he said.
Drilon said he already talked to Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Mark Villar in the hopes of commencing the construction of the bridge as soon as possible.
“It is really high time that is why I have discussed with DPWH Sec. Mark Villar, which is the agency in charge of the construction, and we are hopeful and we will follow and monitor the construction of this project,” he added.
The proposed Panay-Guimaras-Negros bridge project is expected to improve the transport system of the Iloilo-Guimaras route and vice versa.
DPWH announced recently that the feasibility study of the bridge project conducted by CCC Highway Consultants Co., Ltd. of the People’s Republic of China will be completed this year.
It is also one of the priority projects under the “Build, Build, Build” program of the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.
According to the project profile, the project has two proposed bridges – the Panay-Guimaras Bridge which will span Leganes, Iloilo and Buenavista, Guimaras; and the Guimaras-Negros Island Bridge from San Lorenzo, Guimaras to Pulupandan, Negros Occidental. (With a report from Philippines News Agency)