House cleared from Pampanga bridge path, but funeral parlor stays
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO — A team from the city government in this Pampanga capital on Thursday demolished one of two structures blocking a bridge that the government built for P25 million, partially resolving a right-of-way problem that has dragged on for six years, officials said.
In less than two hours, operators of a backhoe and a boom truck destroyed the concrete house of the Simeon siblings on a formerly disputed 119-square-meter property through the help of workers from the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the council of Barangay San Jose.
The removal of the structure, which had the consent of the owners, exposed the approach of the 27-meter San Jose Panlumacan Bridge over the San Fernando River, according to Almer Miranda, head of the DPWH Pampanga first district engineering office.
Easing traffic flow
The DPWH would have to fill and raise the approach to the level of the bridge so that it could be opened to traffic, Miranda said.
Mayor Vilma Caluag, who has drawn the conflicting parties back to the negotiating table, is planning to open the bridge this October to avert accidents among students and motorists who are using an old, rickety steel bridge beside the idled bridge.
Completed on April 4, 2016, the bridge is seen to ease traffic congestion once it opens since it provides an alternate route to eastern and southern villages in San Fernando and Mexico town.
Before agreeing to the demolition of their house, the Simeons had transferred to a new unit in a socialized housing project of the city government in Barangay Panipuan, the Inquirer confirmed with one of the siblings, Lawrence Simeon.
The Archdiocese of San Fernando’s University of the Assumption gave an undisclosed amount to the family.
Caluag said the other property owner, Ruperto Flores, had agreed in principle to move out of his 45-sq-m lot that is partially occupied by his funeral business.
Their lawyers have yet to file a motion to settle the expropriation cases out of court for a compromise agreement, according to Isabelita Manalo, project manager of the DPWH’s Flood Control Management Cluster in Central Luzon.
The Simeons, Manalo said, need to file a separate extrajudicial notice, being heirs of their deceased father, to allow the DPWH to release the amount deposited in court.
The cases stemmed from the property owners’ rejection of the valuation fixed by the Land Bank of the Philippines at P5,000 per sqm, which amounts to less than P700,000 each.
Residents of the villages of San Jose, Del Pilar and San Felipe expressed concern about the safety of students when in-person classes resumed in August, prompting an Inquirer story on the unused bridge.
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