‘ONE MORE YEAR IN HELL’: Group seeks Ombudsman help in defective flyover

Graffiti appears in one of the sinking foundations of the P680-million Ungka flyover in Pavia, Iloilo. (Francis Allan Angelo photo)

By Francis Allan Angelo

“Dugang nga isa ka tuig sa impyerno (Another more year in hell).”

This is how a lawyer described the situation of commuters and motorists passing by the P680-million Ungka flyover in Iloilo.

Former Iloilo City councilor Eldrid Antiquiera, who is also the president and convenor of Grupo Konsumidor in Iloilo City, said Ilonggos do not deserve the injustice they are suffering from the prolonged “uselessness” of the flyover.

Thus, their group will seek the help of the Office of the Ombudsman in investigating the project and bring to justice those who are liable for the defective project.

Antiquiera said another year of repairs at a costly price tag of P250 million “is too much for Ilonggos.”

“The project already cost the taxpayers P680 million and now we will spend another P250 million for this brand new but barely used structure. This is just too much,” he added.

Antiquiera said they are now in the process of securing relevant documents of the project which they will use in seeking the help of the Office of the Ombudsman.

He said they will need copies of the contract between the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the project contractor, International Builders Corp. (IBC).

“DPWH as the implementing agency and IBC as the contractor assumed certain liabilities under our public works laws. They will have to answer for what happened to the project.”

The former Iloilo City councilor said they will also secure a copy of the report of structural engineer Adam Abinales, the managing partner of the Pasig-based Abinales Associates Engineers + Consultants.

In his report released on Monday, Abinales said all 16 foundations of the flyover settled or sank due to the soft and unstable soil layers of the project site.

Abinales said three piers sank by more than 1 foot and will need additional support by burying concrete piles around the foundations. The repairs will take 10 months and will cost at least P250 million.

Antiquiera said the Abinales report can trigger an Ombudsman probe into the project.

“Clearly, someone should be held liable for this. The report is a strong basis for a formal investigation into this. We will file a request for assistance or even a complaint with the Ombudsman so that we can bring closure and justice to this matter,” he added.

To recall, three members of the Makabayan bloc also pushed for a congressional probe into the Ungka and Aganan flyovers.

On January 26, 2023, Reps. Raoul Danniel Manuel of Kabataan, Arlene Brosas of Gabriela, and France Castro of ACT-Teachers filed House Resolution No. 72 seeking a legislative inquiry into the defects of the Ungka Flyover and delays in the ₱560-million Aganan Flyover.

Rep. Manuel, who is from Iloilo City, said the flyovers have national significance because these were funded by the national government.

“We want to know what happened to the flyover. We’re talking about P680 million, which is a big amount and should not be wasted. The purpose of these projects is the comfort of the lives of our commuting public. We hope that this inquiry would shed light on how we should move forward with this project,” he said.

As of this writing, the resolution has yet to be tackled by the House Committee on Public Works and Highways.