April 30, 2006


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BGH flyover opposition costs P50M

BAGIUO CITY (Apr. 24) — The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) estimated an additional P30 to P50 million to finish the Baguio General Hospital (BGH) flyover project due to the delays in construction resulting from local government’s non-issuance of a tree-cutting permit clearance.

Initially the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) allocated a total of P88 million for the BGH flyover. Some P44 million has been released for phase I and another P22 million for phase II, awarded to Advance Foundation and Cupido Construction, respectively. The P25 million phase III still has to be bid out.

City Mayor Braulio Yaranon claims that the P44 million is a saving from the funds used to repair Marcos Highway in the past years. He claims the other P44 million has no source.

DPWH Assistant Regional Director Daniel Domingo clarified that continuous price hikes in construction materials and oil products justify wasted government funds.

Private sectors, composed of media, businesspersons and private individuals are against the BGH flyover mainly because heavy traffic is not caused by BGH rotunda but due to the bottleneck at Santa Catalina; insufficient financing that may result in an eyesore unfinished project; Japanese financiers frown at diverting funds to another project like overpass; cutting of 100 full grown pine trees; and the absence of a Commission on Audit (COA) certification for the project’s fund availability, among others.

Ambivalent drivers

In an interview, “Jimmy” not his real name, a public utility driver, said jeepneys utilizing the BGH loop as a loading and unloading area may be affected by the flyover. He said it may ease the traffic at the BGH rotunda but passengers from the hospital may find it hard to ride the usual BGH-Campo Sioco jeepneys with the flyover sucking vehicles towards Marcos Highway.

The Bakakeng-Central Kitma, Jeepney Operator Driver Association (JODA) secretary is against the project. Instead, he suggested an overpass at the Rimando and Harrison roads where heavy traffic usually occurs, to do away with diggings that may destroy the watershed at the BGH area.

Local officials still disunited

Yaranon, insists that he will not issue a permit to cut trees within the project area. “Not a single tree should be cut due to the flyover,” he said.

DPWH’s Domingo said only a few trees and some shrubs would be cut, volunteering to replace cut trees.

Councilor Rocky Thomas Balisong, chairperson of Public Utilities, Transportation and Traffic Legislation, argued that there is a need for a flyover in the area due to huge traffic.

Domingo wanted Baguio residents to foresee a larger community with the foreseen role of the city as an educational, tourism and medical capital. “It is our obligation to finish it. We do not have any basis to stop it, unless there is a direct instruction from the president, the department secretary or the courts,” he said. # Jay-ar Gervacio/MMSU Intern for NORDIS

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