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ILOILO CITY, Philippines – The town council of Pavia, Iloilo province appealed to the Senate to investigate the defective P680-million flyover that stretches from Iloilo City to its town as local officials criticized the House of Representatives for its inaction.
This came a day ahead of a protest rally staged by cause-oriented groups near the Ungka flyover, demanding accountability for the bungled project, on Tuesday, May 23.
Pavia town council’s resolution, authored by municipal councilor Pyt Trimañez on Monday, May 22, described the flyover as “a decorative white elephant.”
Trimañez said he authored the resolution calling for a Senate investigation because the Lower House has not acted on an earlier resolution pushed by the Makabayan bloc.
He was referring to House Resolution No. 72 filed by Makabayan bloc representatives Raoul Danniel Manuel of Kabataan, Arlene Brosas of Gabriela, and France Castro of ACT-Teachers.
He said HR 72 has been gathering dust at the House Committee on Public Works and Highways since its filing on January 26.
The Trimañez resolution referenced the findings of third-party consultant Abinales Associates Engineers+Consultants, which uncovered defects in the Ungka flyover.
During last week’s special meeting of the Regional Development Council (RDC), a report revealed that all 16 piers of the flyover have been sinking since May 13, 2022.
Based on the investigation results, at least three piers sank nearly two feet.
The Abinales report presented the following recommendation options, requiring a minimum additional expenditure of P250 million and a construction period of 10 months:
- incorporate bored piles to support the existing piers (piers 4, 5, 6)
- implement portal frames to support piers 4, 5, and 6
- utilize underpinning or jet grouting for the remaining 13 piers
The town council’s resolution pointed out that “government funds have been used to build this gargantuan project to supposedly ease the traffic in the Ungka, Pavia area, yet up to now the said infrastructure remains a decorative white elephant which poses safety concerns to the people who traverse underneath the flyover.”
It continued: “There is a need to conduct a legislative inquiry in order that projects of such nature which are disadvantageous to the government and possibly injurious to the general public will be avoided in the future, and that legislation will be passed or amended to penalize public officials and private individuals/contractors involved in anomalous government projects.”
During Tuesday’s rally, Elmer Forro, the secretary-general of Bayan-Panay, criticized the government for not taking responsibility for the faulty project.
“It’s sad that ordinary citizens are readily arrested and jailed. But this P680-million anomaly is a graver crime against the people. It has not benefitted the people at all,” Forro said.
Father Marco Sulayao of the Promotion of Church People’s Response (PCPR) in Panay and Guimaras called out the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), saying its officials were hesitant in identifying those accountable.
“We are calling for accountability and transparency because people’s money was spent on this project. Those liable must answer and even be jailed if there is merit,” Sulayao said.
Trimañez, who joined the rally, said only a few officials have shown interest in the resolution urging a congressional investigation.
He called on congressmen from Iloilo to support the Pavia town resolution for a legislative inquiry.
“We expect legislation that will prevent this kind of problem from occurring once more. We also want penalties on public officials, private persons, and contractors who waste public funds,” he said.
Trimanez said he was concerned because the closure of the flyover and the vehicular traffic congestion have started to impact residents and the local economy.
“Many businesses are complaining that the cost of doing business in Pavia is very high due to high transportation costs and delays. Call center businesses are forced to hire shuttle services for their workers who always report late because of the heavy traffic… Public transportation is a hassle. We have malls near the flyover but residents hesitate to shop there because of the traffic jams,” he said. – Rappler.com
Francis Allan Angelo is an Aries Rufo Journalism fellow.