House panel to tackle Iloilo flyovers soon

Ilonggos will have to wait until after July 24, 2023 before the House of Representatives begins its investigation on the Ungka flyover in Iloilo. (Francis Allan Angelo)

By Joseph B.A. Marzan

The House of Representatives (HOR) is expected to tackle the construction quirks surrounding the Ungka and Aganan flyovers here after a resolution calling for an investigation was referred to the concerned committee on Wednesday.

But the probe will not happen until after July 24, 2023 as Congress is on recess.

Iloilo 2nd district Representative Michael Gorriceta (Nacionalista) confirmed the report to Daily Guardian, after announcing through his Facebook post that he met with House Committee on Public Works and Highways chairperson, Surigao del Sur Rep. Romeo Momo (Independent) on Monday, May 29.

Gorriceta also met with Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Manuel Bonoan and Undersecretary Roberto Bernardo on the same day, where he asked them to act with urgency on the Ungka Flyover.

Roberto told the media on May 15 that repairs of the structural issues of the ₱680-million flyover, which straddles Iloilo City and Pavia town, may start in early 2024 due to lack of funds in the 2023 national budget.

Gorriceta previously told Daily Guardian on Air that funding for the repairs this year is possible, but it would depend on Bonoan if he lobbies with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

“I told [Bonoan] that we are gradually going back to normal, and traffic during peak hours has gotten worse, and likewise there is public clamor on the status of what is to be done with the Ungka Flyover,” Gorriceta said in a phone interview.

“I’ve exhausted all my efforts to reach out to them [DPWH], non-stop, and without delay in hearing out the public’s sentiments in conducting an inquiry, which would give an opportunity to ask and get answers from concerned parties,” he also shared.

Half of the Ungka flyover, as well as the whole of the ₱560-million Aganan Flyover, sits in Pavia in the lawmaker’s district.

But Gorriceta said there is no definite date yet for the hearing, but he believes it may be known after July 24, 2023 when Congress returns from its break.

The inquiry was triggered by House Resolution No. 721, filed on January 26 by Makabayan party-list bloc Reps. Arlene Brosas (Gabriela), France Castro (ACT Teachers), and Raoul Danniel Manuel (Kabataan).

It was read during the lower house’s plenary meeting on January 30, and was referred to the Committee on Rules on the same day, where it remained pending until the Wednesday referral to the Public Works committee.

According to the HOR’s website, Iloilo City lone district Rep. Julienne Baronda (National Unity) also added her name as a co-author to the resolution on February 28.

A congressional investigation into the flyovers had been pushed since last year after Ungka’s closure, which was fueled by publicized complaints on social media about its sinking, wavy feel, and flooding, as well as the sloping of the steel girders at Aganan.

The Pavia town council in December last year pushed the HOR for an inquiry, and on May 22 passed a resolution urging the Senate to conduct a similar investigation.

Senator Imee Marcos (Nacionalista), who was in Iloilo last Sunday, May 28, expressed support for a possible inquiry into the flyover if it ever comes up in their chamber.