MANILA, Philippines — Should Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso become president next year, the Aksyon Demokratiko standard-bearer vowed to build the Iloilo-Guimaras Bridge, which is just a portion of the much-awaited inter-island bridge project of the Department of Public Works and Highways in Western Visayas.
The proposed bridge project will connect the three islands of Panay (Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Iloilo), Guimaras, and Negros (Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental).
Moreno made the promise to Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treňas during their conversation at the City Hall where Moreno and his party mates in Aksyon Demokratiko paid a courtesy call to the local chief executive.
“Yung Iloilo-Guimaras bridge mas malapit ‘yun. They could have started that sooner. Pero walang galaw. Kung sakaling manalo ka, ituloy mo yon ha. Kukulitin kita,” Treňas told Moreno, eliciting a smile from the Manila City mayor.
In return, Moreno quipped: “May awa ang Diyos.”
First proposed in 2017, the Panay-Guimaras-Negros (PNG) bridge is set to be the longest in Western Visayas and one of the longest bridges in the country.
The PNG bridge will span 32 kilometers and will be divided into two components: the 13-kilometer Panay-Guimaras link, and the Guimaras-Negros link that spans 19.47 kilometers.
The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) confirmed in a previous Senate hearing that construction will likely begin in 2025, and will be completed in 2030.
The DPWH, meanwhile, said that engineering services for the bridge will take place, with financial support from the South Korean government. Funding will come from the Export-Import Bank of Korea.
During their brief conversation, Moreno told Treňas that despite his “acrophobia” or the fear of heights, the 47-year-old presidential aspirant made it to the soon-to-be-finished Cebu-Cordova Bridge during his first Cebu Listening Tour in November.
“Alam niyo naman takot ako sa heights. Pero dahil sa gusto kong makita yung bridge, inakyat ko. Such an iconic infrastructure. It was done only in 2 years 9 months under the PPP (Public-Private Partnership),” Moreno said.
Moreno said his Cebu visit made him realize that if prioritized by the national government, islands like Cebu could be connected to Bohol, which could pave the way for easier exchange of goods.
And this could be done by the building of bridges that will serve as tourism circuits and tourism highways as spelled out under the Bilis Kilos 10-Point Agenda for Governance under an Isko Moreno presidency.
Connectivity in the Visayas would require the building of the Tagbilaran-Panglao Link Bridge; Panay Guimaras-Negros Link Bridge; Cebu-Bohol Link Bridge; Cebu-Negros Link Bridge; Bohol-Leyte Link Bridge and Leyte-Surigao Link Bridge.
Moreno previously said connectivity across the region will not only boost its tourism sector but also turn it into an economic center, similar to Metro Manila.
“Kapag iyon nangyare at naging sentro ng susunod na administrasyon na pagdikit-dikitin ang Visayas, hindi na lamang Luzon ang ating economic center. Visayas can be an economic center,” he said.
Joining Moreno in his Panay island Listening Tour are his vice-presidential candidate Dr. Willie Ong and senatorial bets Moro civic leader Samira Gutoc, registered nurse and educator Dr. Carl Balita, and former Quezon City Councilor Jopet Sison.
Under an “Isko Moreno Presidency,” Public-Private Partnership (PPP) will also continue both national and local just like in the case of the Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway (CCLEx), a project of the firm under business tycoon Manny V. Pangilinan.
The CCLEx is a toll facility spanning 8.98 km. that connects Mactan Island via the Municipality of Cordova to Mainland Cebu. It consists of the main span bridge, a viaduct, and a causeway. The Project cost is currently at P30B. Construction started on January 8, 2018 and completion is expected in March 2022.
“We need the private sector to invest more in infrastructure and they can build fast and it will save government resources which it can use for social services like health care and education,” said Moreno.
Moreno has also promised to continue the “Build, Build, Build” program of the current administration, aligned with his plans to build more vertical mass housing, world-class hospitals and modern schools as this construction boom will create more job opportunities.