Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon pressed the Department of Public Works and Highway (DPWH) on Wednesday to fast-track the construction of the proposed Panay-Guimaras-Negros bridge.
The senator expressed frustration over the “slow pace” of progress on the PGN bridge that will connect the three major islands in Western Visayas.
“This is very frustrating. We have been pushing for this project – all of us, the people of Panay, Guimaras and Negros. But it is just like a business-as-usual for the DPWH,” Drilon lamented.
“The proposed Panay-Guimaras-Negros bridge is a dream of the people of Region 6 that remains to be fulfilled. We hope to make it happen during this administration,” he stressed.
Public Works Secretary Mark Villar told Drilon during a Senate hearing on the agency’s proposed 2021 budget that the PGN bridge is a “worthwhile project” and vowed to do “as fast as they can” to start its construction.
Undersecretary Emil Sadain said the 32-kilometer bridge is still among the priorities of the agency. Sadain explained that the review of the feasibility study by the Export-Import Bank of Korea (Korean Eximbank) will be completed by the end of November. Sadain added that it is also a major priority of Korean Eximbank.
The 32-km PGN bridge is composed of two phases: the 13-kilometer Panay-Guimaras bridge and the 19.37-km Guimaras-Negros.
China conducted the feasibility study but balked at financing the project. The government is now looking at the Korean Eximbank to finance the project.
Drilon pointed out that Korean Eximbank is the same bank that provided an Official Development Assistance (ODA) loan of around US $208 million for the construction of the Jalaur River Multi-Purpose Project.
It was Drilon who pushed for the JRMP II, the biggest single public infrastructure in the history of Iloilo and the biggest dam outside of Luzon.
Before his term ends in 2022, Drilon said he wants to see the realization of the dream of the people of Region 6 to have the bridge constructed to enhance inter-connectivity and boost commerce and trade in the region.