MANILA - A senator has called for a Senate inquiry into a project that would replace a "perfectly working bridge" connecting Makati and Mandaluyong cities as she said the selection of a previously banned Chinese contractor for the job was "a recipe for anomalies."
Through Senate Resolution No. 984, Senator Grace Poe urged the chamber's Committees on Public Services and Public Works to look into the merits of replacing the Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge, commonly known as the Rockwell Bridge.
“There is a need to closely scrutinize the plan of our government agencies with respect to public infrastructure to give due consideration to the motorists and residents in the affected areas,” Poe, chair of the Senate public services committee, said in a statement.
The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) announced last week the bridge's closure starting Saturday, Jan. 19. The bridge crosses the Pasig River, connecting the Rockwell commercial area in Makati City and Mandaluyong City.
The closure would pave the way for the bridge-widening project, which the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) said would likely be completed by 2021.
In contesting the project, Poe noted that the selected contractor, China Communications and Construction Corp., was banned by the World Bank in 2009 for "bid-rigging, bribery and corruption in relation to projects funded by the multilateral lender."
Poe said the Chinese contractor was reportedly used for reclamation activities in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, where the Philippines and China have unresolved disputes.
The senator also questioned how the proposed widening of the two-lane bridge to four lanes would increase the road network capacity when the end of the bridge lands on a two-lane street.
Poe also doubts that there were "no strings attached" with regards to the bridge-widening project, which will be funded using a P1.2-billion grant from China.
Originally set in September 2018, the DPWH aims to widen the bridge due to an increase in vehicle traffic.
Read Poe's full Senate Resolution here: