The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) vowed to comply with permitting regulations in the construction of the Puerto Princesa Bay Bridge, a project it described as part of the national government’s Build Build Build initiative.
MIMAROPA Regional Director Engr. Arthur Pascual said that their department is conscious of Palawan’s environmental laws, and will make sure to secure a Strategic Environmental Plan (SEP) clearance from the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD).
“The feasibility study was already completed and approved. The Detailed Engineering Design (DED) was also completed and submitted now with the Bureau of Design. We are waiting for their approval. We promise that kapag may go signal na kami, we will go through everything, mga consultation, etc,” Pascual said in an interview on Wednesday.
Planning for the ambitious Bay Bridge project, also called the viaduct, began in 2019 as one of the DPWH’s Build Build Build initiatives. The 4.7km bridge aims to connect the City Baywalk in Barangay Mandaragat to Sandiwa, Barangay Tiniguiban, behind the City Hall to ease traffic at the National Highway. It will also be passing over Puerto Princesa Bay in order to connect the two points.
The DPWH recently went under scrutiny by local environment officials early in the year for some of its large-scale projects in Palawan. These included the allegedly denuded forest in Sitio Talaudyong, Barangay Bacungan, which was meant to make way for a major road connecting Talaudyong to Bahile Road. Another large-scale DPWH project was the Coron-Culion Inter-Island Bridge, presently suspended by the PCSD after locals protested its construction. Both projects reportedly did not secure any SEP clearances.
Pascual added that once the Bureau of Design approves the DED, an estimated P750-million will be released for the project under 2022’s General Appropriation’s Act (GAA). He explained that the project is already included in the DPWH’s Regional Budget Proposal for 2022.