ILOILO CITY—The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) is under fire for demolishing a heritage bridge in Janiuay town, Iloilo province.
Locals and netizens slammed DPWH as it pushed through the demolition of the American-period Suage Bridge without prior approval from the national government’s cultural agencies.
“Heads must roll in the DPWH,” said Nereo Lujan, chief information officer of the Iloilo provincial government and who is also engaged in history writing.
The old Suage Bridge has been non-functional since late 2013 when it was damaged by super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) and a new bridge was built adjacent to it.
But the old Suage Bridge was significant as it was supposed to be one of the remaining bridges in the country that still have Japanese pillboxes, which were used as guard post by snipers during World War II.
Due to an earlier public outcry and intervention from the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP), the Japanese pillboxes at both ends of the bridge were saved. But DPWH continued to demolish the old bridge as part of a road-widening project.
“We rejoice the pillboxes were spared, but part of our history and ancestry [is gone],” expressed L’Michelli Kilayko Horador.
“What nature failed to destroy totally, the DPWH did it without sweat, illegally and horribly insensitive to history,” Lujan emphasized.
Former mayor Jose “Jojo” De Paula is urging the Iloilo Provincial Board to investigate the DPWH and even the local government of Janiuay under Mayor Ben Margarico for allowing demolition of the old Suage Bridge.