Poe wants Senate probe on Guimaras-Iloilo-Negros Occidental bridge project

Published August 7, 2019, 5:05 PM

by Martin Sadongdong & Antonio Colina

By Vanne Elaine Terrazola 

Senator Grace Poe is calling for a Senate inquiry on the government’s proposed Guimaras-Iloilo-Negros Occidental Bridge project.

Senator Grace Poe

Poe on Wednesday filed Senate Resolution No. 75, which urges the Senate committee on public works to look into the Department of Public Works and Highway’s (DPWH) bridge project connecting the islands in Western Visayas, particularly, its financial costs and economic benefits.

She pushed for the inquiry in the wake of the capsizing last Saturday of three boats in the Iloilo-Guimaras Strait, where at least 30 passengers died.

In the resolution, Poe said that the of the six provinces of Region 6, “Guimaras has the most disadvantage due to its small size as well as lack of reliable connectivity to the main island of Panay.”

She said the lack of connectivity not only deterred the economy of Guimaras, which is known for producing export-quality mangoes, but “endangered the lives of residents as well since boat trips are at the mercy of the weather.”

Proposals to connect Guimaras to Iloilo and Negros Occidental have been floated since 1990s, and Poe said this should be realized.

“There is a need to revive the Guimaras-Iloilo-Negros Occidental project because it will clearly benefit all of the provinces involved,” she said.

On the other hand, she also stressed the “need to closely scrutinize the project as regard its funding source and implementers in order to ensure that it will be undertaken according to the laws of the country.”

The Guimaras-Iloilo-Negros bridge project, recent reports said, includes the construction of a 14.3-kilometer bridge from Panay island to Guimaras, and another 5.7-kilometer bridge connecting Guimaras to Negros.

The project, estimated to cost some P40 billion, would be completed within the term of President Duterte, according to DPWH Sec. Mark Villar.

It was also reported that China, through the official development assistance (ODA) or loan, would fund the implementation of the bridge project.

READ MORE: Construction of bridge linking Iloilo to Guimaras under feasibility study