P40-M bridge inaugurated in remote North Cotabato village

Village officials and residents of a remote village in Makilala, North Cotabato became beneficiaries of a PHP40-million concrete bridge that could withstand flash floods and other natural calamities.

EARLY BRIDGE INSPECTION. North Cotabato Governor Nancy Catamco (center) inspects the early-stage construction of the PHP40-million overflow bridge in the village of Guangan, Makilala town that she inaugurated Sunday (Oct. 18, 2020). Edith Caduaya (inset), a Davao City-based journalist who was born and raised in Barangay Guangan helped facilitate fund sourcing for the project. (Photo courtesy of Makilala LGU)

“We never expected that this remote village of Guangan will catch the attention of President Rodrigo Duterte, Senator Bong Go, North Cotabato 2nd District Congressman Rudy Caoagdan, and North Cotabato Governor Nancy Catamco,” said Guangan village chairman Armando Yabut during the inauguration of the bridge on October 18, 2020.

Yabut recalled that he was only 14 years old when the old concrete bridge was built.

“I was one of the workers here in 1974 and we were paid PHP2 a day; it is only now that this is rebuilt,” Yabut said.

A magnitude 6.6 earthquake that hit the province in October last year damaged the bridge that was also overtaken by age.

“This is a classic example of convergence or unified efforts of national and local governments. We are united and together let’s all rise to the occasion,” Catamco said.

Guangan, with a population of only nearly 200 settlers, is located along the borders of North Cotabato, Davao del Sur, and Maguindanao.

The bridge serves as the gateway and the nearest access to the town, cutting travel time by over an hour.

Yabut said residents have long felt neglected because the Guangan Bridge — described by the residents as an “overflow” bridge that was built in 1974 — has not been repaired or replaced for decades.

Guangan was declared no man’s land in the early 80s due to the sporadic skirmishes between the then Ilaga militia group and Moro rebels.

The 2019 earthquake rendered the “overspill” bridge almost totally damaged until Senator Bong Go, who was informed about the importance of the bridge, facilitated the release of the PHP40-million fund from the Department of Public Works and Highways.

Edith Caduaya, a Davao City-based journalist who was born and raised in Barangay Guangan, was the one who relayed to Go the state of the bridge and how important it was for the locals.

Catamco and Caogdan, meanwhile, formally requested funding for the bridge, which the Office of the President granted.

“As the mother of the province, the devastation has prompted me to be strong in sourcing out for funds, connecting to different funding agencies and benevolent donors,” said Catamco during Sunday’s “thanksgiving and inauguration.” (Edwin Fernandez, PNA)

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