Ilonggo leaders eager for DPWH response over sinking flyover

Ilonggo political leaders also want to hear from the DPWH on what happened to the P680-million Ungka flyover which was closed to traffic after three of its piers sank for still undetermined reasons. (DG file photo)

By Joseph B.A. Marzan

Elected officials from the city and province of Iloilo reiterated that they all seek answers from the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) at the soonest possible time on urgent local infrastructure matters, primarily the P680-million Ungka Flyover straddling the Iloilo City and Pavia town.

Iloilo 2nd district Representative Michael Gorriceta said that he had written to DPWH Secretary Manuel Bonoan on Nov 28, 2022, prior to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan’s November 29 resolution addressed to him to intercede on their behalf.

The resolution addressed the provincial government’s sentiment that DPWH-6’s “slowness in response”, with some board members slamming its spokesperson Assistant Regional Director Jose Al Fruto over the delay in information.

The resolution also requested intervention from Bonoan on how to address the three sinking piers or foundations of the flyover.

Gorriceta said Fruto had initially been giving his office regular updates on the flyover, but the regional official had later signaled a call for help.

He added that Fruto was thankful for the interventions by local officials from the city and province of Iloilo.

“I had been calling [Fruto], and at first he had been giving me updates, but in the end even I have seen that he was already calling for help, to direct me straight to the [DPWH] central office because they were his bosses at the top. He may have already written to them, and he must be shy to say their situation,” he told Daily Guardian on Air Friday.

Gorriceta mentioned that he had already talked to fellow Reps. Julienne Baronda (Iloilo City-Lone) and James Ang (Uswag Ilonggo Party-list) as to their next steps after the provincial board resolution.

He wasn’t closed to the idea of calling a House inquiry into the matter but said that he wants to give DPWH the chance to speak to the public first.

He mentioned that Baronda was considering setting an appointment with the agency’s office soon to personally talk about the matter with Bonoan.

“If I’m not contented, and the information they’re giving the people isn’t enough, I’m really willing [to hold a hearing on the Ungka flyover], but I want to talk to them first. We meet [with the DPWH] at times because they do appear before the plenary. We have to give them a chance. I’d like to suggest that they stand in front and explain,” said Gorriceta.

“It’s not good that other district representatives would have to stand in front and expose the situation. I’ve seen the implications of that,” he added.

He said that he had the same thoughts and curiosity as many Ilonggos over the flyover, highlighting the need for answers from the DPWH.

Gorriceta said their inquiry, whether it would be personal or plenary, would extend to the flyovers of Aganan in Pavia and Buhang and Hibao-an in Iloilo City.

Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas also talked to Daily Guardian on Air regarding his December 1 letter to Bonoan seeking interventions both on Ungka and Aganan flyovers.

The mayor’s letter indicated the Christmas season and face-to-face classes as reasons which may exacerbate traffic from the 2nd and 3rd districts going into the city, especially from the airport.

He said that since the letter has been sent to the DPWH central office, with a copy also sent to the regional office, “the ball is now in their court.”

“We are doing everything, and we hope that we can finally talk about it because Christmas is coming in, and so is Dinagyang. We are doing it not only for our district, but most especially for our residents, including in Pavia and Santa Barbara. Whatever the recommendations of the third-party consultants [of the DPWH] are, it should be done already so that [the Ungka Flyover] can be finished,” Treñas said.

The Ungka Flyover was conceptualized by Ilonggo former senator Franklin Drilon, pegged at P680 million, having softly opened on June 30 and fully operational by September 6, only to be closed on September 18 due to issues of sinking and flooding atop the flyover.