Crossing party lines, 19 Visayas congressmen have asked President Benigno Aquino to prioritize the construction of a network of bridges linking the islands of Panay, Negros and Guimaras.
In a joint resolution, the legislators called on Aquino, the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Center, the Department of Public Works and Highways and the National Economic Development Authority to prioritize the construction of the bridges in the government’s PPP program.
“The construction of trans-link bridges will open new economic opportunities, reduce transportation andbusiness transaction costs, increase access to social services and boost tourism in the entire Western Visayas region,” according to the resolution.
The resolution was initiated by Iloilo City Representative Jerry Treñas and was signed by 19 of the 21 legislators from Western Visayas and Negros Oriental.
House Resolution No. 2018 was read on Januray 16 and was referred to the House committee on public works and highways.
There have been various proposals and studies to construct the bridges over the years but none has led to an actual project because of the high estimated cost.
A study undertaken by Japan International Cooperation Agency in 1999 pegged the cost of the project at P53.661 billion with a total span of 23.19 kilometers. This includes P14.173 billion for the construction of the 2.59-km Panay-Guimaras bridge and P39.488 billion for a 20.6-km bridge linking Guimaras and Negros islands.
A DPWH study in 2010 estimated the project to cost P28.496 billion spanning a total of 13.16 kilometers. This includes 3.6 kilometers for the Panay-Guimaras bridge at P9.438 billion and a 9.56-km bridge to connect Guimaras and Negros costing P19.08 billion.
The 13.16-kilometer span is the shortest among the target areas for bridge construction. Based on this projected length, a bridge will be constructed to connect Leganes town in Iloilo to Buenavista town in Guimaras. Another bridge will link San Lorenzo town in Guimaras to Pulupandan town in Negros Occidental.
Treñas said that the projected cost in the DPWH study “makes the dream more realizable.”
The Visayan legislators said in the resolution that including the project under the PPP was an integral part of the President’s socio-economic program. They said that infrastructure and economic development projects should also be implemented beyond the Philippine capital.
“The National Capital Region receives the lion’s share of the national budget despite the Visayas islands having a population greater that of Metro Manila based on the latest National Statistics Office census,” they said in the resolution.
They said the archipelagic nature of the country “requires the development of a unified well-integrated economy which allows people and goods to be transported swiftly and efficiently.”
Treñas said they hoped that the national government could release funds for a comprehensive feasibility study that would pave the way for the approval and implementation of the project.
If the project is pursued, this would rapidly advance tourism, economic development and interaction between the three islands and the Visayas, he said.
“We hope that at least one of the bridges can be constructed within the term of President Aquino,” Treñas said.
Aside from Treñas, those who signed the resolution were Representatives Janette Garin (Iloilo), Augusto Syjuco (Iloilo), Arthur Defensor Jr.(Iloilo), Ferjenel Biron (Iloilo), Niel Tupas Jr. (Iloilo), Florencio Miraflores (Aklan), Paolo Javier (Antique), Antonio Del Rosario (Capiz), Jane Castro (Capiz), JC Rahman Nava (Guimaras),
Anthony Rolando Golez Jr. (Negros Occidental), Aflredo Marañon III (Negros Occidental), Alfredo Benitez (Negros Occidental), Jeffrey Ferrer (Negros Occidental), Mercedes Alvarez (Negros Occidental), Jocelyn Limkaichong (Negros Oriental), George Arnaiz (Negros Oriental) and Pryde Henry Teves (Negros Oriental).
Source: Inquirer Visayas