Regional Updates (09/20/20)

Samal bridge landing site alignment final, says DPWH

THE ALIGNMENT of the Davao-Samal bridge is final, a Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) official said amid the continued appeal for a redesign by the property owner of the Samal landing site. “We cannot change anymore the alignment after the long study. The alignment that was identified in the study is final,” DPWH Undersecretary Emil K. Sadain said in a text message over the weekend. He emphasized that the feasibility study of the bridge that will connect Samal Island to mainland Mindanao through Davao City was done thoroughly, with all the technical, economic, social, environmental and other engineering aspects assessed. “There is no shortcut here. Having the alignment in the Samal island side inside Paradise Resort is not intentional but based on long prudent and factual study,” he said. The Rodriguez family, owner of the resort and the surrounding property affected by the project, has been appealing to DPWH and Ove Arup and Partners Hong Kong Ltd. for a realignment, citing the need to protect the marine environment at the Paradise Reef. Lawyer Julito R. Sarmiento, chief executive officer and founder of Climate Change Adaptation Resettlement Earth (CARE) Commune, said in a virtual press conference on Thursday that the Rodriguez family might be forced to file a Writ of Kalikasan to stop the project. Mr. Sadain, however, said such legal action will not hinder the longstanding bridge project. The writ is a judicial remedy relating to environmental protection and the people’s constitutional right to a healthy ecology. Samal Mayor Al David T. Uy previously said the Writ of Kalikasan cannot be applied in this case as the affected properties are classified under a commercial zone. Mr. Sadain assured that the preservation and protection of the marine environment is part of the priority considerations in the construction of the bridge. The P23.04 billion bridge, which will span 2.8 kilometers, will be funded through official development assistance. The final bridge landing sites will be in R. Castillo Street, Agdao on the Davao City side and in Barangay Caliclic in Samal. — Maya M. Padillo

Bomb plot in Jolo pier foiled

A SNIFFER dog sat beside a suspicious item found by a Philippine Coast Guard-Explosive Ordnance Disposal team at the Jolo pier at around 6 p.m. on September 19. The abandoned item did turn out to be a bomb, with two electric blasting caps, a rifle grenade, spark plug, and concrete nails. “I commend our troops and our partners for this accomplishment. You saved the lives of the innocent people and foiled this terroristic activity of our heartless enemies,” Brig. Gen. William N. Gonzales, Joint Task Force Sulu commander, said in a statement on Sunday. The Coast Guard team immediately relayed the situation to the military’s 35th Infantry Battalion and local police, who cordoned off the area where the item was found, in between the offices of the harbor master and maritime police. A twin suicide bombing in Jolo on Aug. 24 killed 14 and wounded over 70 others.

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