Eddiegul’s pet project

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Thursday, January 2, 2014

THE two huge natural calamities that affected Cebu within a month of each other last year diverted our attention from a number of issues that otherwise would have been considered urgent. One of them is the expansion of the Naga to Carcar national road.

Just before the magnitude 7.2 earthquake jolted us, the road widening and what to do with the century-old trees that stand on the way were the hot topic. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) gave clearance to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to cut those that can no longer be earth-balled but environmental advocates loudly protested, resulting in a stalemate that, until today, remains unresolved.

In the meantime, the fate of the expanded road, a baby of former 1st Dist. Cong. Eduardo Gullas, continues to hang in the balance, which is a pity because the money, most of it anyway, is already available.

I interviewed Eddiegul in October, last year and he said that the widening of the 16.8-kilometer stretch connecting the cities of Naga and Carcar was part of his dream to improve what he called the “only arterial road” to southern Cebu.

While admitting that he had his “selfish” reason of attracting investors to the two newest cities in his old district, Gullas said he pushed for the improvement of the south national highway because of its “inter-regional and intra-regional”

He explained that aside from the Cebuanos, travelers from other provinces in Central Visayas and from other regions use the road like the Boholanos who cross to Cebu through either the Loon to Argao or the Tubigon to Sibonga routes. Then there are the people who travel from Negros to Cebu via Tampi to Bato, Samboan or Talisay and Liloan in Santander or the old pre-war Guihulngan to Dumanjug route or from San Carlos to Toledo City.

“ Some of them come all the way from Zamboanga del Norte and they all pass through Carcar and Naga,” Eddiegul said.

The expansion of the Naga-Carcar road was originally estimated to cost P1.025 billion in 2011 yet and Gullas worries that the cost could go up. The estimate does not even include expenses that are “tree-related”, he said.

There is presently P470.622 million immediately available for the expansion work, the former congressman revealed. “Samsam needs to raise P500 million plus,” referring to his grandson who succeeded him in Congress. Luckily for the grandson, the DPWH included in its 2014 budget P100 million for his Papa Eddie’s pet project.

As for the P400 million that former Cebu City south district congressman Tommy Osmeña realigned from budgetary allocations for unrealized projects in his district, Gullas said that P270.622 million had been spent for the construction/repair of six bridges and 37 cross-drainage facilities.

Part of the unspent balance of P129,378 million will be used for the improvement of the highway from Carcar to Sibonga.

Eddiegul believes that the people have waited long enough for the widened highway and is anxious that the project proceed without any more issues. But what about the trees?

“I am for the cutting of those that cannot be saved and will only pose a danger to the public but I will leave it to the DPWH and the DENR to work out the details,” he said.

That surely will not endear him to those who believe that all the trees are worth saving but that should not bother him who’s used to doing his job without expecting approval or appreciation.

“When I had the Bulacao-Naga road expanded, people complained because they were inconvenienced. When it was done and they were enjoying the use of the wider road, not one said thank you.”


Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 03, 2014.


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