GROUNDBREAKING. Lt. Gen. Benedict Arevalo (5th from left) leads the groundbreaking of the multi-million pesos hanging bridge in Barangay Abis, Mabinay town in Negros Oriental province on Wednesday (Feb. 1, 2023). The old bridge was washed out during the onslaught of Typhoon Odette (Rai) on Dec. 16, 2021. (PNA photo by Judy Flores Partlow)

DUMAGUETE CITY – A multi-million peso hanging bridge will soon benefit thousands of farmers and residents in Mabinay town, Negros Oriental province.

The 50-meter-long cable-suspended bridge made of steel and concrete will be built in Barangay Abis, Mabinay and is projected to boost the government’s campaign against insurgency.

The construction of the bridge located at Sitio Cansanaan, Barangay Abis, will begin in March, more than a year after the old bridge that connects nearby barangays in Mabinay and adjacent towns of Bindoy and Ayungon, was destroyed during the onslaught of Typhoon Odette (Rai) in December 2021.

The construction of the bridge, the only means to cross the Cansanaan River, will be completed in three months, said Mayor Ernie Uy in an interview with the Philippine News Agency.

A memorandum of agreement between the local government unit of Mabinay, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and the GMA Kapuso Foundation, Inc. (a socio-civic organization that initiated the project), was held Wednesday, prior to a groundbreaking ceremony at the project site.
The project is estimated to cost between PHP5 million to PHP7 million.

Lt. Gen. Benedict Arevalo, commander of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Visayas Command, led the ceremonies and was joined by Philippine Army officers and officials from the local government and barangay units and the sponsoring foundation.

During a brief program that preceded the MOA signing and groundbreaking, Arevalo read the message of the AFP Chief of Staff, General Andres Centino, who expressed hope that the project would bring a lasting positive impact on the lives of the locals in the area.

Centino also recalled the time when he was a young lieutenant assigned to Negros Oriental and personally experienced how difficult it was to cross the Cansanaan River.

The hanging bridge project will provide residents “access to places where they can avail of basic goods and services and engage in livelihood opportunities,” Centino said.

“It will also serve as a monument of our resilience and partnership in overcoming challenges and difficulties,” he said, adding that this collaboration with the foundation would "empower the lives of the Filipinos one at a time.”

Arevalo, who is also the concurrent commander of the 3rd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army in Jamindan, Capiz province, believes that collaboration with the private sector is a big contribution to the development and unity of the country.

Arevalo said “it is better to build bridges than walls” because walls “symbolizes divisions while bridges represent unity”.

The construction of the bridge will be undertaken by a private contractor commissioned by the foundation, with the support of the 53rd Engineer Brigade of the Philippine Army.

Col. Ricnon Carolasan, chief of staff of the 53rd Engineering Brigade based in Camp Lapu-lapu, Cebu City, said the 542nd Engineer Construction Battalion would deploy skilled personnel for the duration of the project.

Army personnel from the 11th Infantry Battalion and the police, on the other hand, will be providing security.

The Mabinay government will provide other requirements such as sand and gravel and ensure the maintenance of the hanging bridge once it is completed.

The town mayor also said the LGU has also planned the construction of a concrete road to complement the bridge project as it would boost the economy, security, and peace and order in his town and neighboring municipalities.

"There are at least three barangays in Mabinay that are identified through the Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict as insurgency-affected, and the new bridge will be a big help to the government's whole-of-nation approach," Uy said. (PNA)