Sevilla Bridge reopens

THE renovated Sevilla Bridge, connecting Shaw Boulevard in Mandaluyong City and Sta. Mesa in Manila, fully reopened its four lanes on Aug. 17. The bridge reconstruction, a joint undertaking of the Department of Public Works and Highways and San Miguel Corp., gave way to construction works of the Metro Manila Skyway Stage 3. Public Works Secretary Mark A. Villar said the renovation was also intended to improve San Juan River’s flow to mitigate flooding.

Senator questions designation of Cabinet members as local government overseers

A RESOLUTION has been filed in the Senate seeking to look into the “micromanagement” by some Cabinet members of certain local governments by designating them as overseers of the local coronavirus response. Senate Resolution No. 495 was filed by Senator Risa N. Hontiveros-Baraquel after members of the national Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on the coronavirus response were assigned to monitor cities in the capital Metro Manila and neighboring provinces, the area considered as the country’s epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak. “The IATF members, while arguably experts in their respective fields, are not experts nor do they have any experience in health system performance, critical care capacity, and surveillance, isolation, and treatment protocols,” Ms. Hontiveros said in a statement on Monday. She questioned, for one, the reason for the assignment of Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III in Quezon City, when he is tasked to lead the Philippines’ overall COVID-19 response. “The members of the IATF, many of whom have no background in local governments or pandemic response, are unnecessarily overstepping,” she said, “What the LGUs need is a coherent national COVID management strategy, not undue interference.”  — Charmaine A. Tadalan

DoTr targets partial operation of Mindanao railway by Q4 2021

TRAINS BETWEEN the cities of Davao and Tagum in Davao del Norte are targeted to start running by the fourth quarter 2021, based on the Department of Transportation’s latest timeline for the Mindanao Railway Project. Full operation of the railway’s first phase — covering Tagum, Davao, and Digos City in Davao del Sur — is seen by the 2nd quarter of 2022. MRP Project Manager Clipton J. Solamo said they remain on track with the adjusted project schedule with the shortlist of project management consultants already under review. The shortlist for the design-and-build contractor is still being finalized by the Chinese government, which will provide official development assistance to partly fund the P82.9-billion first phase. “It’s (the railway project) undergoing procurement process. It’s a long process. We will follow RA 9184,” Mr. Solamo said in a text message. He is referring to Republic Act 9184, the Government Procurement Reform Act, which prescribes rules and regulations for the modernization, standardization, and regulation of procurement activities, including for project consultants. The railway, among the first priority projects listed under the Build, Build, Build program of the Duterte administration, has faced several delays due mainly to right-of-way issues. The first phase will span 102 kilometers, with three stations in Davao del Norte (Tagum City, Carmen, Panabo), three in Davao City (Mudiang, Davao central, Toril), and two in Davao del Sur (Sta. Cruz, Digos). A 10-hectare depot will be built in Tagum. The full MRP is envisioned to around the entire Mindanao mainland. — Maya M. Padillo

 Possible typhoon may affect northern Luzon this week

A LOW pressure area (LPA) east of Cagayan may become a tropical depression within 48 hours from Monday morning, weather bureau PAGASA reported. “Owing to its proximity to land, Tropical Cyclone Wind Signal #1 may be immediately raised over some provinces in northern Luzon in the initial Severe Weather Bulletin. This may result in disruption of maritime travel in these areas,” PAGASA said in its 10 a.m. bulletin on Aug. 17. The LPA at that time was about 25 kilometers east of Calayan, Cagayan. Once declared a typhoon, it will be named Helen, the 8th to enter the country this year. The last three typhoons did not make landfall and had minimal effect. With the low pressure area and prevailing southwest monsoon, rains are expected in most parts of the country until Tuesday.