‘WE CAN CASH IT UP’: Defective flyover can be funded this year, lawmaker says but…

The DPWH and Congress can scrounge for funds for the repairs of the defective Ungka flyover but it will have to go through several processes. (Photo courtesy of PROMETHEUS)

By Joseph B.A. Marzan

An Ilonggo member of the House of Representatives on Friday said the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) can find funds for the repairs of the controversial P680-million Ungka Flyover, but it would have to go through some hurdles.

Rep. Michael Gorriceta (Iloilo-2nd) told Daily Guardian on Air via Aksyon Radyo-Iloilo that the initial result of the probe into the flyover that was presented last May 15 was a “long time coming” as he has been waiting for it since January 2023.

Gorriceta also said that he was shocked by the ₱250 million estimate for the repairs which will entail additional concrete bored piles in 3 of the 16 piers of the flyover.

“I was shocked with the [₱250-million] amount quoted [for the rectifications] especially that all piers were seen to have been displaced. But it is good that Engineer [Adam] Abinales informed the public. What I do want is the wisdom of the quality of [flyover] because of the repairs,” Gorriceta said.

“I did not see a program of how the [₱250 million] would be used as well as the assurance that the displacement of the piers would not happen in the future,” he added.

Gorriceta said it was possible for Congress to approve the funding for this year if DPWH Secretary Manuel Bonoan would lobby it with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. as an immediate concern.

If the President gives his nod, it would also have to go through the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and the Department of Finance (DOF) which will certify the availability of funds.

House Speaker Martin Romualdez (Leyte-1st), and Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri would also need to certify the funding’s urgency so that Congress could approve it at the soonest.

But given that June is fast approaching, Gorriceta said the inclusion of the repair funds in the 2024 budget would remain the safest option.

“If [Bonoan] deems [the ₱250 million] as urgent and lobbies for the [flyover repairs] with [Marcos Jr.] as an immediate concern, [it can be taken from] the unappropriated [funds] or the savings from [the 2023 budget]. We can find remedies or ways,” Gorriceta said.

“It’s almost June already and in the natural run of the budget year, we’re almost at the middle of the year and it would be impossible now, and the safest and the [most] conservative is January 2024. But if we can find funds by the last quarter of the year, it can be funded,” he added.

Gorriceta said the ball is now with DPWH to ensure that the repairs would be done in the soonest possible time.

As to possible liabilities, the lawmaker agreed with DPWH-Region 6 Director Nerie Bueno’s statement that the primary goal is to reopen the flyover to public use soon, but he also agreed that the public should know who must be held liable for the defects.

He said he respects moves to file a case in relation to the flyover’s structural issues with the Office of the Ombudsman.

He also ensured that he and Rep. Julienne Baronda (Iloilo City-Lone) as well as other Ilonggo district and party-list lawmakers would work to have the repairs funded and implemented immediately.

DPWH Undersecretary Roberto Bernardo on Monday said that the additional works on the flyover would most likely happen in early 2024 as there is no available funding in the 2023 budget.