Davao-Samal Bridge, ‘drawing no more’

Photo by John Roger Orquiza
Photo by John Roger Orquiza

"DRAWING no more."

This was how Island Garden City of Samal (Igacos) Mayor Al David Uy reacted when the groundbreaking of the P23-billion Samal Island-Davao City Connector (SIDC) Bridge Project commenced on Thursday morning, October 27.

Uy said in an ambush interview that the presence of President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. during the groundbreaking is a sign that the national government is determined to finish the bridge project, which was a big-ticket project under the administration of former President Rodrigo Duterte.

"Mao na gyud ni. Mismo ang Presidente na ang naa na diri (This is it. Even the President is here to support)," the mayor said.

This was Uy's response to naysayers of the project after its groundbreaking has been delayed several times.

The Igacos mayor bared that the original plan for the groundbreaking was back in 2020, but it was shelved due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

On June 13, 2022, the Framework Agreement and Loan Agreement between the Philippine and Chinese governments were signed. Many anticipated that the groundbreaking would commence weeks after.

Uy, meanwhile, said the ceremonial event might have been delayed due to some problems on the financial matter.

However, he said the groundbreaking was slated at an earlier date as it was originally scheduled on October 30. He did not disclose any reason for the adjustment.

Despite the opposition from certain groups and individuals, Uy said there is no stopping the construction of the 3.98-kilometer bridge.

"Wala na. May expropriation (I don’t think it can still be stopped because there will be expropriation)," the mayor said, adding that the Office of the Solicitor General will apply for it.

Expropriation by the Government, obliging a land owner to part with his real estate is authorized only when done for public use or for public benefit and not to enable one to own real property at the expense of another especially when the said owner has no other real property except the one being expropriated.

It can be remembered that the Rodriguez-Lucas Family — the owner of Paradise Island Park and Beach Resort and Costa Marina Beach Resort in Igacos and whose property will be affected by the SIDC project – also appealed to DPWH to reconsider its alignment as they believed it could cause irreversible damage to the environment.

A private company also appealed to the 20th Davao City Council during a regular session Monday, October 24, to reconsider the alignment of the bridge on the Davao City side.

Lawyer Israelito Torreon, legal counsel of Dominic & Sons Realty and Development Corp. (DSRDC), said they are opposing the current alignment of the bridge as it would result in "reduced investor confidence, reduced economic momentum, lower land value for those directly affected, and noise and traffic congestion."

In response, Uy said that they are free to express their opposition.

But he said this won't be a hindrance for the project to push through since the project implementers complied with the necessary documents.

"I don't think so kay niagi man ta sa legal na proseso. Mismo ang DENR [Department of Environment and Natural Resources] naghatag og (because it went through a legal process. DENR even gave) necessary documents for the bridge to continue," he said.

Davao's economic potential

Marcos, who led the lowering of the time capsule to signal the start of the construction of the bridge, said in his speech that the Davao-Samal Bridge will help develop the region’s economic potential and bolster access of Davaoeños to social services.

“Once completed, this bridge will help us develop the economic potential of Davao City and the Island Garden City of Samal, as well as enhance its residents’ access to employment, education, and other social services,” the President said.

He said the bridge, once operational, could accommodate up to 25,000 vehicles daily and reduce travel time between Igacos and Davao City from 50 minutes via ferry to just 4.5 minutes.

The Davao-Samal bridge will be built in five years, with its expected completion in 2027.

The bridge will be funded through a loan agreement worth P18.67 billion entered into between the Philippines and China.

“In 2027, this bridge will surely ease the convenience of travel and transport, bringing forth gainful opportunities for many of our people by providing a link between far-flung areas and economic centers, thereby ensuring smoother mobility of people and goods,” the President said.

The national government agencies that joined the chief executive in the event include the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the Department of Tourism (DOT), the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), and the Regional Development Council-Davao (RDC).

Vice President Sara Duterte, in an ambush interview, lauded her father, former President Duterte, and former DPWH Secretary and current Senator Mark Villar for pushing for the implementation of the SIDC Project.

She also thanked Marcos for the continuity of the project.

Duterte bared that the construction of the Davao-Samal Bridge has been discussed since the time of her late grandfather, Vicente Duterte, then governor of the undivided Davao Region.

The vice president, who also lobbied for its construction back when she was still Davao City Mayor, said she is looking forward to the completion of the bridge. RGL


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