By Ben Rosario
The Visayan Bloc, an organization of Visayan-speaking congressmen, has called on the government to start immediately the construction of the P42 billion Panay-Guimaras-Negros island bridge, that will erase San Juanico bridge’s record as the country’s longest.
In a statement signed by VB convenors Reps. Alfredo ‘Albee” Benitez (PDP-Laban, Negros Occidental) and Jerry Trenas (NP, Iloilo), the legislators committed strong support for the project that is part of the Duterte administration’s “Build, Build, Build” program.
The legislators’ group also appealed to their House colleagues to back the ambitious project that will link Panay to Negros island, through Guimaras.
While the 14.3-kilometer Panay-Guimaras link can be completed by 2021 if construction will commence this year, 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.
Benitez, chairman of the House committee on housing and urban development, said it is important for Congress to rally behind Duterte’s infrastructure program to ensure the implementation of Phase 2 of the project.
The senior administration lawmaker aired optimist that Phase 3 that will interconnect Negros to Cebu, will also be funded by the government due to the expected economic success that will be realized as soon as the two bridges are completed and become operational.
“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 Visayan lawmaker said in the statement.
The statement added: “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.”
Earlier, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno announced that construction of Phase 1 may be launched next year.