Zamboanga bridge collapses, politicians with it: The big picture

April 27, 2018 - 3:25 PM

Social media users did not mince words as they poked fun at the Zamboanga mishap on Thursday that sent government officials to murky waters after a portion of the bridge in a housing project site suddenly collapsed.

Zamboanga Mayor Maria Isabel Climaco-Salazar, House Reps. Albee Benitez (Negros Occidental) and Celso Lobregat (Zamboanga City) and other officials were inspecting houses on stilts when the makeshift wooden footbridge they were walking on suddenly collapsed.

The incident provided local officials, including members of the National Housing Authority, evidence of a shoddy government project in Barangay Rio Hondo, Zamboanga City whose residents were those displaced by the 2013 siege.

“I, together with Cong. Albee Benitez, Cong. Celso Lobregat and other officials, staff and some members of the media are first-hand witnesses, and victims, of NHA Region 9’s gross incompetence and negligence,” said Climaco-Salazar in her Facebook page.

Many Filipinos on social media deemed it a slap over supposed pocketing of funds of housing projects.

Meanwhile, other influencers opt to make light of the situation.

An adjacent bridge also collapsed a few minutes later, the Zamboanga mayor said on Facebook. No one was reported hurt.

The real role of the National Housing Authority

The NHA was created through Presidential Decree 757 under the watch of then President Ferdinand Marcos mainly to provide adequate dwelling places for many Filipinos.

In section 1 of the decree, the role of the NHA includes “housing development and resettlement, sources and schemes of financing, and delineation of government and private sector participation.”

Section 3 specifies that NHA is responsible for making sure that the housing projects would “enhance the provision of housing to every Filipino.”

This includes the Zamboanga City Roadmap to Recovery and Reconstruction (Z3R) project, which was designed for the displaced victims of the Zamboanga crisis in 2013.

In September 2013, more than 118,000 residents had to flee from the armed standoff between a faction of the Moro National Liberation Front and the military that lasted for 20 days.

The risk management council also reported that the siege incurred at least P200 million damage to property.

It’s overdue (what’s new?)

The Z3R project began four months after the end of the war and was slated to be finished until June 2015.

“Local and national authorities have begun implementing the Zamboanga City Roadmap for Recovery and Reconstruction (Z3R), looking at longer-term shelter solutions and infrastructure development,” the report stated.

The first phase of the project was supposed to be done by the end of September 2014.

But three years later, only 93 percent of the houses were finished, Zamboanga Today reported.

Residents still not safe, five years on.

Nearly five years after the crisis, it seemed that the residents are still not safe.

Following the accident, Climaco-Salazar assured that she had already ordered the immediate repair of the destroyed bridges. She also called for a probe into the members of the NHA and their private contractors.

Benitez, chair of the housing and urban development committee, will also conduct further investigation on the housing units and the people involved.

“Let those found at fault face justice,” the mayor said on Facebook. — Video by STAR/Roel Pareño