NLEX Corp. targets completion of Candaba Viaduct upgrade by June

NLEX Corp. on Monday said it is aiming to complete the Candaba Viaduct upgrade by June. “Targeted for completion by June this year, the project requires southbound motorists to slow down and utilize a temporary 31-meter Bailey bridge to allow cars, vans, small trucks, and buses to cross over the link slab repair site,” the tollway firm said in an e-mailed statement. “Cargo trucks are rerouted to the counterflow lane at the northbound carriageway,” it added. The company completed the replacement of 13 link slabs on the Manila-bound portion of the viaduct in 2020 and is currently working on 12 more link slabs on the same segment to strengthen the bridge. NLEX Corp. President and General Manager J. Luigi L. Bautista said, “For several years, the Candaba Viaduct has been a significant part of the commuters’ everyday life, having served as a reliable link between Metro Manila and the provinces in Central and North Luzon.” The company started upgrading the Candaba Viaduct in August last year. “These rehabilitation works are necessary to ensure the safe transport of people and unhampered delivery of essential goods and services, supporting the government’s push to accelerate economic development,” he added. NLEX Corp. is under Metro Pacific Tollways Corp., the tollways unit of Metro Pacific Investments Corp., one of three key Philippine units of Hong Kong-based First Pacific Co. Ltd., the others being Philex Mining Corp. and PLDT, Inc. Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has a majority stake in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls. — Arjay L. Balinbin

21 Abu Sayyaf members surrender since January

FOUR members of the Abu Sayyaf, a kidnap-for-ransom group with international terrorist ties, surrendered over the weekend, bringing to 21 the total number of those who voluntarily yielded to authorities so far this year. The military, through its Western Mindanao Command, reported that the latest four were all based in the southern island province of Sulu, the group’s stronghold. Seventeen other Abu Sayyaf members surrendered in January. “According to them, Sulu-based Abu Sayyaf Group members have lost unity and direction since the death of leader Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan and other sub-leaders,” the military said in a statement released by the 11th Infantry Division. Those who surrendered also turned over their weapons, according to the division’s commander, Maj. Gen William N. Gonzales. The military said the series of surrenders is also attributed to continuing efforts by army units in the area and the local government of Patikul town to convince Abu Sayyaf members to leave the group. Mr. Gonzales said he is now working closely with Sulu Governor Abdusakur M. Tan for the “formalized de-radicalization and rehabilitation program” for the former Abu Sayyaf members. “The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process is downloading funds. We are planning for halfway house, livelihood programs and scholarships for the children of former ASG (Abu Sayyaf Group) members… This is important so all can start anew and Sulu can continue towards peace and development,” Mr. Gonzales said. Data from the Armed Forces of the Philippines show 128 ASG members and sub-group leaders surrendered in 2020 while 68 others were killed or captured. — MSJ

Sarangani Bay playground


Whales and dolphins were spotted in Sarangani Bay, a declared protected seascape, last week during the monthly marine mammal monitoring activities led by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ (DENR) Region 12 office. Around 20-30 short-finned pilot whales (Globicephala macrorhynchus) were recorded along with eight Risso’s dolphins, 80-100 Spinner dolphins, and up to 200 Fraser’s dolphins. The monitoring team includes personnel from the Protected Area Management Office, and environment officers of General Santos City and Sarangani province.

Legazpi port surpasses January revenue target

THE Bureau of Customs’ (BoC) Legazpi office collected over P35.66 million in January, surpassing its target of P24 million for the month. “Based on the preliminary report submitted to Statistical Analysis Division, the revenue collection posted a surplus of P11,663,672.40 or 48.60% higher than the collection target,” the Customs bureau said in a statement on Monday. The Lagazpi Port’s main revenue source is rice importation, which accounted for 69.4% of the month’s total. The Legazpi Port in Albay is the main maritime gateway in Bicol. Its Customs office covers the sub-ports of Tabaco and Jose Panganiban.