Two China-funded bridges set to break ground

By Mary Grace Padin

MANILA, Philippines — The government is targeting to start the construction of two China-funded bridges across the Pasig River in November this year, Department of Public Works and Highways chief Mark Villar said.

During a meeting with a Chinese delegation recently, Villar said the agency is already undertaking the necessary preparations for the groundbreaking of the P4.61-billion Binondo-Intramuros bridge and the P1.376-billion Estrella Pantaleon bridge.

He said this is in time for the visit of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang who is attending the 20th ASEAN-China Summit in Manila.

The projects were recommended by the Investment Coordination Committee (ICC)-Cabinet Committee for approval of the National Economic and Development Authority board last month.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said the two bridges, funded by the Chinese government through a grant, are designed to help ease traffic congestion in Metro Manila.

He said the two bridges signify the strengthened ties between China and the Philippines.

Chinese Commerce Minister Zhong Shan, who led the Chinese delegation, said the two bridges are of significant importance as they would have a direct impact on the daily lives of Metro Manila residents.

Philippine officials met last weekend with their Chinese counterparts to review the progress made on the first batch of infrastructure projects submitted by Manila for possible financing assistance from Beijing.

They also discussed in detail the second batch of projects the Philippines plans to implement, also with the cooperation of China.

During the meeting, both sides underscored the “substantial” progress made to improve the economic relations between the two countries.

Dominguez and Zhong acknowledged the efforts of both sides to streamline government processes and speed up the preparations for the projects eyed for Chinese financing.

In fact, Dominguez pointed out that potential bidders have already been identified for the Chico Irrigation and Kaliwa Dam projects, which were included in the first batch of projects presented to Beijing.

Zhong, for his part, also reaffirmed China’s commitment to assist the country in the rehabilitation of Marawi City and the earthquake-hit province of Surigao del Norte.

The Chinese government is expected to turn over this October $3 million worth of heavy equipment and machinery for the reconstruction efforts in Marawi.

He also reiterated China’s intent to help the Philippines in the construction of two drug rehabilitation centers, in line with the Duterte administration’s campaign against illegal drugs.

The Chinese official also reaffirmed China’s support for the development of an industrial park to distribute benefits of economic growth in the countryside.

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