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Footbridge breaks apart

2 solons latest NHA victims
/ 07:06 AM April 27, 2018

BRIDGE FALLS DOWN Representatives Abelardo Benitez (in striped shirt) and Celso Lobregat, Zamboanga City Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco-Salazar and other officials clamber up the footbridge that collapsed into murky water. The bridge leads to the relocation site at Sitio Hongkong in Barangay Rio Hondo. —PHOTO COURTESY OF RMN ZAMBOANGA

ZAMBOANGA CITY—Two lawmakers had their firsthand experience with a poorly built government project on Thursday, falling through a bridge and suffering slight injuries.

A wooden footbridge leading to a government housing project collapsed under the combined weights of Zamboanga City Rep. Celso Lobregat, Negros Occidental Rep. Abelardo Benitez, Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco-Salazar and several officials from the National Housing Authority (NHA). They plunged into the murky waist-deep water below.

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The group was inspecting the site at Sitio Hongkong in Barangay Rio Hondo, where victims of the 2013 siege of the city by Moro rebels had been relocated.

“Benitez and I were talking about the many issues we’ve noted about the place when suddenly, we heard loud cracks and I was the first to fall through,” Lobregat said. He suffered only scratches.

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“I am alive and well and kicking,” he said.

Lobregat said he thanked God that nothing serious happened. “I was imagining if there were poles sticking out and I was the first one to fall and they fell over on top of me, can you imagine in the movie?”

He and the rest of the party clambered on the collapsed walkway with help from soldiers and other people.

Substandard materials

Lobregat and the other officials were accompanying Benitez, chair of the House committee on housing and urban development, in his inspection of the houses following complaints about the use of substandard materials.

Benitez said he was trying to determine who was responsible for the project and the supposed use of poor-quality construction materials.

“This was the first time in my search for substandard projects that I encountered such experience,” he said.

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“We will hold people accountable and we have to address safety. They were spared by the calamity, the human disaster only to be victims of poor housing design and materials,” he added.

Benitez said it was obvious the foundations of the footbridge were made of substandard materials.

The footbridge was built in 2016 as part of a P53-million NHA housing project for some 240 families affected by the siege of Moro National Liberation Front rebels, said Rasdie Mukarram, barangay chair of Rio Hondo.

But last year, Mukarram told the Inquirer, the village replaced the foundations because the original posts had rotted.

He said the NHA had been ignoring the complaints of the barangay officials.

“To our leaders, you saw how these NHA officials fooled our people by putting up poor materials in our housing project. I am sad that it happened to them but this poor work will never be addressed if we only used our own voices,” Mukarram said.

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TAGS: bridge collapse, Philippine news update, Zamboanga
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