INSPECTION. Public Works Secretary Mark Villar (2nd from right) inspects the ongoing construction of the Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge Replacement Project on Tuesday (Oct. 20, 2020). Villar said the construction has shown significant progress despite the coronavirus pandemic. (DPWH photo)
MANILA – China should be given “some leeway” to hire workers for the construction of two bridge projects donated by the Chinese government to the Philippines, Malacañang said on Wednesday.
In an interview with CNN-Philippines, Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque made this appeal after some senators questioned the influx of Chinese workers hired for the construction of Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge and Binondo-Intramuros Bridge crossing the Pasig River.
“The proper perspective is, it’s an outright grant or donation to the Philippine government,” Roque said. “And because of that, I just appeal that we should give them some leeway, although, we would appreciate it of course, if the Chinese government should employ more Filipinos.”
In a Senate budget hearing, some lawmakers questioned the Department of Public Works and Highway (DPWH) why 31 percent of the workers of the Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge Replacement Project are Chinese while 45 percent are also Chinese for Binondo-Intramuros Bridge project.
“Well, let me highlight that these bridges are 100 percent donations from the Chinese government. So, I think that should give us the proper perspective. It’s being given to us 100 percent, we don’t pay back anything for the building of these bridges and that is why we need to give them some flexibility in the personnel that they have hired,” Roque explained.
Roque, however, said the Philippines has the right to insist that Filipino workers should take highly technical positions if the government will pay the construction of the infrastructure projects.
“Had this been a project that we would pay for using taxpayers’ money, of course government would insist that aside from highly technical positions, that Philippine laborers should be employed,” he said.
According to the DPWH, the Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge Replacement Project is expected to be completed by December 2020, while the completion of the Binondo-Intramuros Bridge in Manila is set for March 2021.
On Tuesday, DPWH Secretary Mark Villar inspected the ongoing Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge Replacement Project which, he said, saw significant progress despite a two-month work suspension due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
“Although temporarily-suspended for two months due to Covid-19, we are now seeing significant progress of this ongoing iconic bridge project,” Villar said during the inspection.
He said the 506-meter Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge Project is part of the Metro Manila Logistics Improvement Program to ease traffic along Edsa as it connects Makati City and Mandaluyong City,
Once completed, the bridge will have four lanes from the previous two lanes and will soon accommodate an average or 50,000 vehicles per day.
“This bridge is one of the many projects that are part of our master plan to decongest Edsa,” he said. (PNA)