NEW YORK CITY — With the first “ber” month this year already about to become part of history, the much-ballyhooed construction of the P42 billion Panay-Guimaras-Negros island bridge has continued to be a wild imagination.
Not even the presence of a pile of rocks, pebbles, sand or any other concrete construction materials can be spotted anywhere near the purported construction site.
No “Men at Work” signs; no front loaders; no bulldozers; no backhoes; no dump trucks; no trenchers; no graders; no cranes; no nothing.
Yet, if we listen to politicians and top government officials in the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPHW), the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), and the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), “the construction fo the bridge will start before the end of the year.”
The problem in the Philippines since time immemorial is that politicians are the most talkative when it comes to the implementation of gargantuan projects.
These blabbermouths always occupy the front seats when it comes to publicity; they are always in mad scramble to grab the credit and speak in the media as if they play a Yeoman’s role in the projects; as if the projects can’t take off if they won’t waste any saliva and brag about these projects like their own.
The truth is they contribute nothing except to grandstand and use the occasion to score “pogi” points for their own selfish political agenda and, to some extent, their whims and caprices as self-centered politicians.
If the agencies concerned were headstrong and determined to implement the project on the specified timetable, there was no need for the so-called the Visayan Bloc, an organization of Visayan-speaking congressmen, to call on the government to start immediately the bridge construction.
Because nothing has happened eversince the DPWH and NEDA wisecracks loudly announced the construction of the Panay-Guimaras bridge first ”before the end of the year”, VB convenors, Reps. Alfredo ‘Albee” Benitez (PDP-Laban, Negros Occidental) and Jerry Trenas (NP, Iloilo), were obliged to issue a statement appealing to the national government to commence the ambitious project.
The Ilonggo solons claimed they were “committed to strongly support” the project that is part of the Duterte administration’s “Build, Build, Build” program.
If the DPWH and NEDA were telling the truth about the date of the construction, there was no need for the VB to go as far as making an appeal to their House colleagues to back the ambitious project that will link Panay to Negros island, through Guimaras.
What can their fellow solons do to hasten the construction which is under the tutelage of the government’s executive branch?
Their job is to legislate laws, not to implement the projects.
Or the VB is urging their colleagues in a subtle manner to also tell the Duterte boys to “shut up and hit the ground running.”
It was earlier reported in the Philippine media that “there is a strong likelihood” that the Guimaras-Negros bridge, spanning 5.7 kilometers, will be started before the end of the term of President Rodrigo Duterte.
It was also reported that the 14.3-kilometer Panay-Guimaras link can be completed by 2021 if construction will begin in 2018.
Meanwhile, here’s what the VB declared in the statement:
“We believe that Region 6 has so much potential for tourism and economic opportunities that can be maximized through the creation of accessory infrastructures such as the Panay-Guimaras-Negros bridge that will enhance connectivity within the region.
“The project shall improve transportation connectivity and efficiency and promote regional economies by way of enhancing productivity, attracting investments and generating more revenues for localities in the region.”
Let’s hope Malacanang won’t take the “impassioned” statement for granted.