The P680-million Ungka flyover, which recently got asphalt patchwork, might be reopened to light vehicles but it remains to be seen if motorists and travelers would feel safe using the sinking structure. (Rjay Castor photo)

By Francis Allan Angelo and Rjay Castor

The Department of Public Works and Highways-Western Visayas (DPWH-6) will announce major developments in the P680-million Ungka flyover between Iloilo City and Pavia town, Iloilo today.

An advisory from the government-ran Philippine Information Agency on Monday invited news organizations to a “Press Conference on the Partial Opening of the Ungka Flyover to Light Vehicles September 19, 2023, 9:30 a.m. at the DPWH Regional Office VI, Fort San Pedro, Iloilo City.”

But DPWH officer-in-charge (OIC) Regional Director Sanny Boy Oropel neither confirmed nor denied to Daily Guardian if the defective Ungka flyover will be partially opened to light vehicles.

“Definitely there will be plans to be announced tomorrow,” Oropel told Daily Guardian Monday afternoon.

The latest announcement was made weeks after DPWH conducted dynamic load testing and other works on the flyover.

The load testing in early August was meant to detect if the piers or foundations of the flyover are still sinking.

Based on the geotechnical investigation of the Abinales Associates Engineers + Consultant, the third-party consulting firm hired by DPWH, three of the total 16 piers of the flyover sank by more than one foot between May 2022 and April 14, 2023.

Pier 5 sank at a depth of 22.9 inches, Pier 6 at 19.21 inches, while Pier 4 settled by 16 inches.

The resumption of the works in the nearby Aganan flyover also in Pavia is also seen as a possible reason for the opening of the Ungka flyover to light vehicles.

Since Saturday, a portion of the national highway in Aganan was closed to traffic, with vehicles rerouted to Pavia town proper.


Last week, DPWH-6 and International Builders Corp, the flyover’s contractor, have initiated asphalting and repaving works in the flyover’s foundations and side roads.

Oropel earlier said that asphalting works in the foundations of the flyover are just part of the repair works and rectification measures.

“Ang purpose natun sang gina repair natun nga asphalting works sa dalum sang Ungka is to rectify all those defects sang aton nga concrete pavements,” Oropel told Daily Guardian in a phone interview a week ago.

The DPWH district engineering office also repaved the roads beneath the flyover with asphalt as part of its routine maintenance activities and also to provide a safe and hassle-free travel to commuters.

Oropel said they are also fixing the sections that were affected during the construction of the Ungka flyover when excavations were made, which were left open and posed a potential hazard to commuters.

“May mga section man nga gina obra ang contractor because during the construction activity of the Ungka flyover, nag excavate. So may portion nga na open nila nga wala nila maclose. So in order for us to provide, kay dira naga agi ang aton nga mga commuters, ginpa aspalto ta na para at least matinlo man,” he said.

IBC workers were also seen last week boring a hole between the two spans of the flyover that will serve as drainage for water that tend to accumulate in the sunken part of the structure.

Oropel also clarified that the images of a hole on the surface of the four-lane flyover have been there for some time but it was only now that it was noticed.

“Ang buho na da sa babaw, basi bag o niyo lang na da nakita […] Dugay na ina nga buho, wala lang galing makita,” he said.

Oropel explained that the hole was “deliberately done” by the contractor to extract water that pooling on the flyover’s carriageway during a downpour.

The hole is located near one of the sinking piers of the flyover. The sagging part caused water to stagnate in the span instead of going into the drainage.

Orpoel said the hole near the flyover’s centerline pavement markings was meant to serve as drainage.

“Ang aton mga drain pipes, ma locate mo na sa side sang aton nga four lanes on both sides. Since nga may deflection kita nga na observe sang una, ang aton nga pier 6, nagpanaog, so may sag subong ang aton slab, so dira nagapundo ang tubig so para makadrain kita diretso, ginbuhuan na sang contractor,” he explained.

Oropel also said that once the repair works recommended by the third-party consulting starts, the surface span will eventually be removed during the repair.

“Basically once the investigation activity recommended by Adam Abinales will be started […] kuhaon na da ang babaw nga span ei. Meaning to say, wala man gid na problema ang buho da kay gub-on ta man na dyapon sa ulihi,” Oropel said.

When asked for a comment on DPWH central office’s P200 million allocation for the repair of the flyover in its proposed 2024 budget, Oropel said that the regional office is yet to come up to an exact figure.

“Wala pa ma istoryahan ni (DPWH Sec.) Manuel Bonoan or any other individuals nga P200 million ang aton budget […] Ang P200 million, indi na siya ang exact figure. We, with the Bureau of Design, will evaluate to come up with the exact figure on how rectification works will be done,” he said.

Oropel also confirmed that they have received the final report of the Abinales firm and the evaluation and recommendations from the Bureau of Design.

The report included the findings, recommendations, timeline of rectification works, and estimated costs, among other relevant details.

“Give us some time and to study thoroughly because this is a highly technical matter that we cannot decide on one day only. Ginatun-an pa natun subong kag gina-evaluate. Please give us the time and consider also the technical aspect that we should consider to come up with the final decision for the Ungka flyover,” Oropel said.

The Ungka flyover was closed to traffic in September 2022, just weeks it was reopened, after Daily Guardian first reported that three of its piers were sinking.

It remains unknown if the problem is due to design flaws or the contractor’s doing.

But DPWH has been focused on fixing and reopening the flyover instead of seeking accountability on the controversy.