Panay-Guimaras-Negros bridge construction won’t start under Duterte administration — Drilon

CONSTRUCTION of the Panay-Guimaras-Negros (PGN) bridges will be passed on to the next administration, Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon said on Wednesday following a meeting with the government’s adviser for flagship projects. “There is simply no time,” Mr. Drilon said in a statement. The senator, who hails from Iloilo where the Panay link will be located, said Presidential Adviser for Flagship Projects Vince B. Dizon informed him that the project is still undergoing feasibility study and that the target date for starting construction is 2023. Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Information Officer Randy R. Del Rosario confirmed this, saying the project is still in the “Feasibility Studies stage.” Mr. Drilon has been pushing for the bridges that will span 32.47 kilometers, connecting the three islands of Panay, Guimaras, and Negros and boost the Western Visayas economy .“The PGN Bridge is a dream of the people of Western Visayas. The lack of inter-connectivity is a stumbling block to the region’s growth and development. We must address the lack of connectivity to transport our agricultural products between Panay, Guimaras, and Negros,” Mr. Drilon said. This “undelivered commitment,” he said, will be a factor when voters make their choices in next year’s local and national elections. — Bianca Angelica D. Añago

Tropical depression Auring enters PHL area Wednesday, heavy rain expected by weekend

THE country’s first typhoon for the year, named Auring, entered the Philippine area Wednesday morning but its impact is not expected until the weekend, according to the national weather bureau. Tropical depression Auring, located 900 kilometers southeast of Hinatuan in Surigao del Sur as of 10 a.m. Feb. 17, is expected to intensify into a tropical storm and make landfall within the Caraga Region by Saturday evening or early Sunday. The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) alerted authorities and residents in the storm’s path to “take appropriate preparatory measures due to increasing likelihood of heavy rains and gusty conditions associated with the potential passage of a tropical cyclone during the weekend through Monday.” Areas that are expected to be affected are: the Visayas islands; the regions of Bicol, MIMAROPA (Mindoro-Marinduque-Romblon-Palawan), Caraga, Northern Mindanao, and Davao; and the provinces of Cotabato and Lanao del Sur. PAGASA said typhoon signal #1 might be raised over Caraga and Davao by Friday due to expected strong wind. Auring was moving at 20 kilometers per hour (km/h) with maximum sustained winds of 45 km/h.

Ormoc Bay added to list of red tide areas

THE Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) has warned consumers from eating shellfish harvested in Ormoc Bay, Leyte after the area tested positive for red tide contamination. In its fourth shellfish bulletin for the year, BFAR said Ormoc Bay joins the growing list of red tide zones such as Inner Malampaya Sound, Palawan; Sorsogon Bay; Dauis and Tagbiliran City, Bohol; Tambobo Bay, Negros Oriental; and Daram Island, Zumarraga, San Pedro Bay and Cambatutay Bay in Western Samar. Other areas that remain positive for red tide include Calubian, Carigara Bay, and Cancabato Bay in Leyte; Biliran Islands; Guiuan and Matarinao Bay in Eastern Samar; Dumanquillas Bay in Zamboanga del Sur; Balite Bay in Davao Oriental; and Lianga Bay and Hinatuan in Surigao del Sur. All types of shellfish and Acetes sp. or alamang harvested from the aforementioned areas are unsafe for human consumption. Other marine species gathered in these areas can be eaten with proper handling and cooking. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave