MEMBERS of various groups advocating heritage conservation who have been expressing serious concerns regarding the proposed construction of a multi-milllion Filipino-Chinese ‘friendship bridge’ have found an ally in the person of a Manila councilor.
According to Councilor Bernie Ang (3rd district), there are already a lot of structures that signify and aim to cement the friendly relations between Chinese and Filipinos. Ang, himself a Chinese-Filipino, had been a councilor for over a decade now, representing the third district of Manila which includes the Chinatown area.
In the Chinatown area alone, Ang said there is a huge ‘Chinese-Filipino Friendship Bridge’ arch at the foot of Jones Bridge which serves as the opening gate of Chinatown. Inside, there is also a ‘Chinese-Filipino Friendship Bridge’ in the heart of Ongpin Street and another friendship arch facing the Sta. Cruz Church which also leads to the Chinatown area.
Ang said the funds intended for the yet-to-be-constructed bridges could be put to better use via programs that would help uplift the lives of people living in the slums of Chinatown, an area which falls under the jurisdiction of Manila’s third district.
In the area of San Nicolas alone and the riverbanks in the third district, Ang said there are thousands living in utter poverty who are in dire need of resettlement.
Noting that programs which would alleviate poverty among many Filipinos is one of the top priorities of President Rodrigo Duterte, the councilor said helping the poor residents of Binondo will definitely give more meaning to the intention for which the Chinese government gave funds to the country.
Ang’s pronouncements came after the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) announced the construction of two bridges worth $75 million and to be fully funded by the Chinese government beginning this year.
Reportedly, the first of the two Chinese-funded bridge will connect the Binondo and Intramuros districts in Manila, while the other will replace the existing bridge connecting Mandaluyong and Rockwell area in Makati.
Heritage conservationist groups have objected to the plans and said a pedestrian bridge will do, saying that based on studies, the construction of the proposed Binondo-Intramuros Bridge will likely affect the Aduana Building in Intramuros due to its soft foundation as well as the Chamber of Commerce Building and Plaza Mexico. Reportedly, the groups also noted that the bridge will cover the Estero de Binondo and the Puente de San Fernando will have to be demolished to give way for the construction of the said bridge.
The ICOMOS Philippines said that ramps of the proposed bridge will affect the buffer zone of the San Agustin Church and Monastery, a World Heritage Site, adding that UNESCO might raise concerns to the proposed bridge and threaten the bid of the whole Intramuros area to become a World Heritage Site.