‘WE WANT JUSTICE’: Groups stage protest against defective Ungka Flyover

Cause-oriented groups and concerned residents demand accountability and transparency on the issue of the P680-million defective Ungka Flyover during the indignation rally they conducted on Tuesday, May 23, 2023. Sangguniang Bayan (SB) member Pyt Trimañez (foreground) of Pavia, Iloilo also joined the rally. (John Noel E. Herrera)

By John Noel E. Herrera

Different cause-oriented groups and students staged a protest in front of a mall in Pavia, Iloilo, on Tuesday, May 23, 2023, to demand accountability for the P680-million Unka Flyover’s poor construction.

The demonstrators stressed how ordinary people are imprisoned for petty crimes, but no one was still held liable for the issues surrounding the defective flyover.

“Masubo nga kon ordinary nga mga pumuluyo ang makahimu sang sala, gilayon nga dakpon kag priso. Pero ining P680 million, isa ka grabe nga krimen sa mga pumuluyo bangod sa tunga sang malala nga krisis wala gani may ginahatag nga ayuda sa mga pumuluyo,” Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan)-Panay Secretary-general Elmer Forro said.

Father Marco Sulayao of Promotion of Church People’s Response Panay and Guimaras questioned why the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) couldn’t tell who should be held liable, and emphasized that transparency should be observed in investigating the flyover.

“Ini kwarta sang pumuluyo nga dapat naton pangita-on bangud ini halin sa balhas kag dugo sang mga pumuluyo. Gani we are calling for accountability and transparency. Pasabton, imbestigaran kag presuhon ang sin-o man dapat ma-preso,” Sulayao said.

Meanwhile, Sangguniang Bayan (SB) member Pyt Trimanez of Pavia, Iloilo, who also joined the protest, urged other local legislators in Western Visayas to support the call for a legislative inquiry into the Ungka Flyover.

“Masubo lang gid kay sa subong gamay lang ang interesado nga magtalakay sang sining resolusyon. Gani nagapanawagan kita liwat sa mga kongresista nga diri nagabase sa Iloilo nga suportahan nila (ang resolusyon). Tanan magbulig lobby sa kongreso nga tani pagahiwaton na ang legislative inquiry,” Trimanez said.

“Naga-ekspektar ta man that they could come up with a legislation nga hindi na maliwat ining problema. Nga matagaan pinalidad ang mga public officials, private officials, contractors nga involve sa mga problem just like this nga nagakauyang ang taxpayers’ money,” he added, reiterating that someone should be held liable for the problem.

Trimanez stressed that the traffic situation in Pavia, Iloilo has already affected its residents and the economy of the town.

“Madamo na sang establishments ang nagpabutyag nga mataas gid ang cost of doing business sa Pavia. Diri sa aton likod, may mga call centers, because important ang time, they have to provide shuttle services, and some need to buy vehicles para di lang malate. Sa duwa ni ka mall, damo man tani makadto, but because of traffic, mabudlay kadtuan na,” he explained.

The rallyists also held a candle-lighting activity to end their protest, signifying that their call for accountability and transparency on the issue of the Ungka Flyover is continuously burning with determination.

The Sangguniang Bayan of Pavia, Iloilo will try to seek the intervention of the Philippine Senate in the defective P680-million Ungka flyover.

On Monday, the municipal council passed a resolution asking the Senate to investigate in aid of legislation the sinking structure.

SB Member Pyt Trimañez, author of the resolution, said they feel hopeless with the inaction of the House of Representatives on the resolution filed by Makabayan bloc representatives Raoul Danniel Manuel of Kabataan, Arlene Brosas of Gabriela, and France Castro of ACT-Teachers.

The lawmakers filed House Resolution No. 72 which cited the structural defects in the Ungka Flyover and delays in the completion of the P560-million Aganan Flyover.

The resolution has been languishing with the House Committee on Public Works and Highways since it was filed on January 26, 2023.

With the House’s inaction, Trimañez said they might as well try their luck with the Senate in providing clarity to the issue.

The indignation against the defective flyover, which Daily Guardian first reported in September 2022, flared up after third party consultant, Abinales Associates Engineers+Consultants, revealed the results of its geotechnical investigation into the causes of the vertical displacement or sinking of the piers of the Ungka Flyover.

During the special meeting of the Regional Development Council last week, it was disclosed that all 16 piers of the flyover were sinking since May 13, 2022.

Three piers sank by almost two feet, based on the investigation which cost another P13.8 million.

The Abinales report recommended three options that will cost at least an additional P250 million and a 10-month construction duration:

-Add bored piles to support the existing piers (piers 4,5,6)

-Provide portal frames to support piers 4,5 and 6.

-Underpinning or jet grouting the 13 other piers.

The resolution noted that “government funds have been used to build this gargantuan project to supposedly ease the traffic in the Ungka, Pavia area, yet up to now the said infrastructure remains a decorative white elephant which poses safety concerns to the people who traverse underneath the flyover.”

“There is a need to conduct a legislative inquiry in order that projects of such nature which are disadvantageous to the government and possibly injurious to the general public will be avoided in the future, and that legislation will be passed or amended to penalize public officials and private individuals/contractors involved in anomalous government projects,” the resolution added.