MANILA— President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday honored China and the public works department for the completion of a Beijing-funded bridge that would connect the cities of Mandaluyong and Makati in the capital region.
China shelled out P1.46 billion for the 506.46-meter Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge, the construction of which started in 2019, Duterte said during the project's inauguration.
"This is not my work, this is the work of the people involved directly... the People’s Republic of China, who provided the money, and the workhorse of the DPWH and its dedicated workers, at ‘yong mga taong naghirap dito (and their people who worked on this). Sa kanila ito ang proyekto (the project is theirs)," said the President.
"The credit and the honor should belong to the one who funded the project and of course the one who toiled night and day to make this bridge a reality," he added.
Duterte said the funding "highlights the goodwill of the Chinese people and its government and further cements the good relations between our two countries"— even amid unresolved maritime disputes between Manila and Beijing.
The 4-lane bridge was "constructed to become resilient against natural disasters." It will connect "two important business districts" and ease traffic congestion along major thoroughfares in Metro Manila, said Duterte.
"It is a testament to the strong commitment of this administration to improve mobility and promote ease of travel among motorists and commuters in Metro Manila and its adjacent communities," he said.
Some 50,000 vehicles are expected to pass daily on the bridge that will cut travel time between Makati and Mandaluyong to 10 minutes, said Villar.
Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian said the financial grant from China shows its sincerity in helping complete the Duterte administration's infrastructure projects.
He commended Filipino and Chinese workers involved in the construction.
"They have overcome a lot of difficulties because of the pandemic. On one hand, they need to make sure they are safe, and to abide by the protocols of the COVID-19 prevention. On the other hand, they worked so hard to complete it in time," he said at the program.
The Philippines and China have yet to resolve a decades-old maritime dispute.
Beijing has snubbed a United Nations-backed court's 2016 ruling that junked its historical claims to the South China Sea, within which is the smaller West Philippine Sea.
Duterte has refused to press China to follow the ruling, an arbitral award to a Philippine filing, as he pursued investments and loans from the economic superpower.
He has repeatedly thanked China for its coronavirus vaccines and other pandemic aid.
— Report from Joyce Balancio, ABS-CBN News
Video courtesy of PTV