The provincial board is requesting the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the Regional Development Council (RDC) to conduct a feasibility study for a bridge that will link the island municipality of Dumaran to mainland Palawan.
Board member David Francis Ponce de Leon said Tuesday (April 6) that the bridge can be a long-term solution to the current difficulty in accessing the island town, approximately seven kilometers off the mainland.
Dumaran is an island municipality in the northern part of Palawan although it has barangays that are situated in the mainland of the province.
Ponce de Leon stated that with the expected increase in the movement of people, delivery of goods and services in light of the pandemic crisis and gradual influx of tourists, the construction of the bridge will be a great help to the people.
“Magagamit din ito ng mga pupunta sa Araceli. Mapapadali ang pagpunta ng ating mga kababayan,” he said.
Board member Cherry Pie Acosta also proposed to request DPWH for the possible transfer of the controversial Culion-Coron bridge project to Dumaran mailand-island connectivity.
Acosta said that her idea is based on the petition against the project. “Narinig natin na tinatanggihan ang bridge that will connect islands of Coron and Culion. So bakit hindi na lang dito ilagay sa Araceli-Dumaran. Tingin ko naman ay bukal sa kalooban na tatanggapin nila ang proyekto. ‘Yan lang ang ating comment if ever na hindi talaga payagan ang sa Coron at Culion baka mapag-aralan na mai-transfer dito,” she said.
“Wala naman ditong kilaman ang pagtutol ng Culion. Ang ating inaalala ay baka mai-realign sa ibang proyekto ang pondo kung sakaling hindi na talaga payagan dahil napag-alaman natin na may tumututol,”she added.
Board Member Albert Rama also chimed in, calling on environmental advocates in Palawan who are always criticizing development projects of the government.
“Dito sa Palawan ay maraming mga organisasyon na walang ginawa kundi tumutol sa programa at proyekto ng gobyerno na pangkaunlaran. Kung pakikinggan natin sila ay walang proyektong pangkaunlaran ang maisasagawa, kaya para sa akin ay dapat ipaliwanag sa mga tao ang kahalagan nitong proyekto,” Rama explained.
Board member Juan Antonio Alvarez also pushed the approval of the resolution for Dumaran island and mainland bridge, but also proposed teh passing of another resolution for a feasibility study of possible transfer of the Coron-Cluion bridge project to Dumaran.
“Ang pagkakaalam ko kapag ganyang malaking proyekto na may pondo na ay hindi nag anon kadali na ilipat. Kung hindi ako nagkakamali, ang approach sa Culion-Coron bridge ay sinisimulan na bagama’t may komokontra,” Alvarez said.
“Tuloy na lang ito [resolustion] at gumawa ng panibago to further study the Culion-Coron bridge, na sinasabing dapat pag-aralan at dapat namang pag-aralan ng mabuti kung ito ba walang masyadong impact [sa environment],” he added.
Board member Leoncio Ola who also threw support to the resolution pointed out that traveling from mainland to island town is a decade-long sacrifice of the residents coming in and out the island.
“Ang pa-connect sa Dumaran, malapit lang distansya pero malaki ang daluyon dyan. Sakripisyo talaga ang ating mga kababayan, kung kaya’t hihilingin natin sa DPWH ito ay mapapagaralan,” Ola stated.
The proposed Culion-Coron bridge is a national funded project with around P4.2 billion allocation from the DPWH.
The 20-kilometer bridge will connect the two islands. However, the a group of local divers and local citizens launched an online petition opposing the project citing its dangerous effect to the environment. The group also said dive sites and other tourist attractions are also within the five-kilometer radius of the project.