By Rjay Zuriaga Castor
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has urged the Department of Public Works and Highways-Western Visayas (DPWH-6) to expedite the rehabilitation of the Paliwan Bridge in Antique for the efficient and fast delivery of government services.
“Kailangan gawing prayoridad at madaliin ang rehabilitasyon ng Paliwan Bridge. Inaatasan ko ang public works ng Region 6 na pagtuunan para agarang magkaaksyon na dito sa pag-ayos at pag-go ng [ating] programa,” Marcos said during the distribution of smuggled rice in Antique on Friday.
The programs Marcos is referring to are the government’s agricultural programs such as the Rice Farmers Financial Assistance (RFFA) and the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RECF).
The RFFA is distributed to compensate for the income loss of farmers due to the drop in palay prices and RECF likewise extends financial assistance to eligible rice farmers as compensation for the projected reduction or loss of farm income arising from the tariffication of the quantitative import restrictions on rice.
Marcos added that while immediacy in the rehabilitation is essential, DPWH must still ensure the durability of the infrastructure.
“Yung pong madaliin ngunit dapat tiyakin din na matibay at hindi substandard ang pagkakagwa ng imprastaktura natin,” he said.
The president stressed that effective management and delivery of essential goods and services from farms to the market includes a well-functioning transportation system.
“Ang epektibo at mabisang pangangasiwa sa daloy ng produkto at serbisyo mula sa sakahan patungo sa merkado ay isa sa mga dapat nating pagtugunan. Parte po dito ang maayos na transportasyon.
The two 25-linear-meter spans of the Paliwan Bridge in Barangay Cubay North, Bugasong town, collapsed during the onslaught of the Severe Tropical Storm “Paeng” in November 2022. The bridge connects Laua-an town in the north and Bugasong town in the south.
It can be recalled that in his distribution of government aid to areas in Antique hit by Paeng, Marcos also ordered an immediate rehabilitation of the infrastructures damaged in the province.
Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda said last year that a P300 million budget for the construction of a new Paliwan Bridge was allotted as a Senate amendment in the 2023 national budget.
Then DPWH-6 director Nerie D. Bueno said the 48-year-old structure can no longer withstand the effects of climate change.
“We observed that the water level in the river is rising; therefore, the construction of another bridge with higher elevation than the existing bridge is deemed necessary,” he said.
Prior to its collapse, Bueno said that DPWH had previously proposed to build a parallel bridge to the existing Paliwan Bridge.
During heavy downpour, the temporary access road across the Paliwan River is oftentimes rendered impassable due to flooding.