BURST

Delays plague ‘Build!’ bridge projects in N. Vizcaya

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya–At least seven out of eight bridge projects being constructed here under the government’s “Build, Build, Build!” infrastructure program have suffered delays, affecting travel in the Cagayan Valley region.

All of these unfinished bridge-widening projects here and in Diadi town, are along Daang Maharlika, the region’s main highway, and have been blamed for a number of road crashes and traffic congestion.

Records from the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) show that the eight bridge projects, with a total cost P195 million, have incurred delays, some by as long as seven months.

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Vehicles negotiate a narrow portion of the national highway in Barangay Bonfal West in Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya, as workers of a bridge widening project there try to finish the work despite falling seven months behind schedule.  In January, a motorcycle rider died while four others were injured in a crash on this exact spot. Photo by Melvin Gascon

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CRUSHED

Life crumbles for family of OFW killed in Taiwan quake
By Melvin Gascon, Inquirer Northern Luzon

TUGUEGARAO CITY— Normida Albano, 49, sobbed as she clutched a framed college graduation photograph of Melody Castro, the overseas Filipino worker who was among those reported killed when a magnitude 6.4 quake hit the island state of Taiwan on Tuesday evening.

“This is all I can hug for now, just so I can grieve,” she said about her first-born child on Friday. Nearby sat Albano’s granddaughter, Melody’s only child, 6-year-old Given Grace, who was barely aware of the tragedy that has struck the family. News confirming Melody’s death still has to sink in.

But the family said they would need to steel themselves for the long wait until her remains are returned to remote Banguian village, a quaint farming community at the banks of the river in Abulug town in northern Cagayan, about 130 km north of this capital city.

“We have no one to turn to… What happens to us now? We are still mired in so much debt,” Albano admitted.

AFP
The Yun Tsui residential building in the Taiwanese city of Hualien where Filipina and Abulug, Cagayan native Melody Albano Castro, 28, was found dead following the magnitude 6.4 earthquake Wednesday. (AFP photo)

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NO SWIMMING

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Officials this week ordered the closure of this stretch of the white sand beach in Nangaramoan in Barangay San Vicente in Santa Ana, Cagayan, the growing popularity of which has spawned an unregulated and unplanned sprouting of structures near the beach, as seen on this aerial photo during a recent inspection conducted by the town government of Santa Ana. Photo courtesy of Santa Ana Tourism Office

World’s finest beach closed over violations
By Melvin C. Gascon

TUGUEGARAO CITY—A stretch of white sand beach in Sta. Ana town touted as one of the best in the world has been shut down by authorities following its operators’ failure to comply with regulations, according to the administrator of Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (Ceza).

Lawyer Raul Lambino, Ceza chief, said he ordered the operators of the beach at Sitio Nangaramoan in San Vicente village to put up sanitation facilities and observe building construction and environmental laws.

“We have to close down the beach to put things in order. And this will remain closed until we are able to rehabilitate it,” he said. Continue reading “NO SWIMMING”

DOOMED

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Ferraris, Porsches, Hummers at Cagayan ecozone to be wrecked
By Melvin C. Gascon

TUGUEGARAO CITY—At least 100 imported luxury cars in a warehouse at the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport (CSEZF) in Port Irene in Santa Ana town, Cagayan province, will be crushed and destroyed, according to lawyer Raul Lambino, administrator of the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (Ceza).

Lambino said he would order the destruction of the cars, some of them Ferraris, Porsches and Lamborghinis, to send a message that the government was serious about its campaign against smuggling.

“Those cars will be sent to the crusher, definitely. We must destroy those to deliver a message that we will not tolerate activities like that,” he said, referring to the anomalous importation of secondhand vehicles using privileges granted to the Cagayan economic zone. Continue reading “DOOMED”

DEATH TRAPS

Cagayan Valley’s ‘bad’ roads tagged crash hazards

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya—Motorists have assailed the “horrendous” road conditions and the ongoing road repairs and bridge construction projects on the national highway in Cagayan Valley region, which were supposedly blamed for a number of deaths and crashes in recent days.

The national road, also known as Maharlika Highway, has been the subject of endless complaints from travelers who have suffered from crashes, near-mishaps, long delays and inconvenient travel due to bad road conditions and frequent repairs.

On Friday morning, one Joan Mendez, 31, was killed after she was pinned to death by a trailer truck that went wayward as it ran over a bumpy portion of the asphalt road in Barangay (village) Baretbet in Bagabag town. Continue reading “DEATH TRAPS”

NO JOKE

Youth group blames ‘rape culture’ for slay of Cagayan lass

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya—A youth organization has condemned the killing of a 20-year old working student from Lal-lo town in Cagayan, blaming the prevailing rape culture in today’s society.

In a statement, Gabriela Youth echoed the call of the victim’s family for justice for Rose (not her real name), a female working student who was found dead under a bridge in her village last week.

“While many concerned sectors are intensifying their campaign to end sexual violence against women, the government seems bent on ignoring these rising incidence of rape and abuse. Instead,  President Duterte himself tries to trivialize this issue by repeatedly making rape jokes,” it said. Continue reading “NO JOKE”

DEADLINE

Cops told to stamp out illegal gambling in Cagayan Valley

CAMP ADDURU, Tuguegarao City, Cagayan—The top police official in Cagayan Valley on Thursday ordered all local police offices in five provinces here to stamp out all forms of illegal gambling until Aug. 9, or face immediate relief.

Chief Supt. Robert Quenery, Cagayan Valley police chief, also warned operators of Small Town Lottery (STL) in the region to strictly comply with the terms of their gambling permit, as local officials have expressed doubts over the legitimacy of their operations.

“Those [whose performance] are found to be wanting will definitely face sanctions. [Stopping illegal gambling operations will] give chance to the authorized [STL] agents to have a smooth flow in the conduct of their operations,” he said. Continue reading “DEADLINE”