By Jillian Marielle Tiraña

President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. broke ground on the construction of the Davao-Samal bridge project amidst concerns on Thursday, October 27, in Lanang, Davao City.

Photo Courtesy of Bongbong Marcos (Facebook)/Ambassador Huang Xilian (Facebook)

The project aims to build a 4-kilometer-long bridge with four lanes, connecting Davao City and Samal Island. Through the bridge, the travel time between the two cities will be reduced to less than five 5 minutes rather than an hour-long boat ride.

“Once completed, this bridge will help us develop the economic potential of Davao City and the Island Garden of the City of Samal,” Marcos Jr. said, adding that it will increase residents’ access to employment, education, and other services.

The president also thanked China for its active role in the development of the project for funding over P 18.67 billion or roughly 80% of the project through concessional loans.

Citizens expressed their concerns surrounding the country’s loan from China due to the result of other Chinese-funded projects from countries such as Sri Lanka which went bankrupt after being unable to pay its debt.

The Save Samal Reefs Alliance also stated that the construction of the SIDC bridge poses concerns to the environment. Over 7,500 square meters worth of corals and 2.7 hectares of marine protected areas may be affected by the project.

Ateneo de Davao University president Father Joel Tabora cleared that while they are not against the bridge construction, the Paradise reef should be preserved for its value, glory, and joy it brings.

“Mindlessly, we allow our environment to be destroyed. It is our home. But we allow it — in the name of progress — to be dirtied, abused, ruined, or destroyed,” he stated.

Meanwhile, Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Davao Region spokesperson Dean Ortiz defended that the project would have little to no impact on the reefs, saying that they opted for a “state-of-the-art modern technology” for the project construction.

Ortiz added that they have secured the necessary clearances and permits from different government offices, even the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), for the project.

The SIDC bridge is set to be completed by 2027.

Edited by Arianna P. Montes