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Marcos applauds China for $400-M bridge connecting Davao and Samal


PRESIDENT Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. on Thursday called China an “active partner” of the Philippines as he led the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of a $400-million (P23.3 billion) bridge by a Chinese company in the country’s south. 

The 3.86-kilometer four-lane bridge, which will connect Samal Island to Davao City, will serve at least 25,000 vehicles daily by 2027, Mr. Marcos said in a speech, based on a transcript sent by the presidential palace.

He said the bridge called Samal Island-Davao City Connector would boost economic development in the two areas, create jobs and improve social services.

China Road and Bridge Corp., a unit of China Communications Construction Co., will build the bridge. About 90% of the project will be funded by a loan from China.

“It is for us to also express our gratitude to the government of the People’s Republic of China as they were an active member and have always been a dependable partner in this infrastructure development program,” Mr. Marcos said.

The bridge is a “testament to the strong and ever-growing foundation of the bilateral relations and economic cooperation” between Manila and Beijing, he added.

“This is not the only project that we have depended upon, the concessional loans and even grants from the government of the People’s Republic of China, and it is clear to see the benefits that those projects bring to our people, to our economy and to the Philippines.”

Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian, who was present during the ceremony, described the project as “a new milestone of the China-Philippines friendship.”

“[This is] a flagship project of our government-to-government cooperation,” he said. “It honors the strong bond of practical cooperation and close friendship between China and the Philippines.”

“With an investment of about $400 million, the construction of the bridge will bring thousands of jobs to Filipinos.”

Environmentalists warned the sea-crossing bridge project threatens protected areas in Davao City and Samal Island.

The bridge would destroy corals within the 7,500-square-meter Paradise Reef on Samal Island and a 2.7-hectare marine protected area in Davao, the Save Samal Reefs Alliance has said.

“Who speaks for the corals in this project? Who will answer for the communities relying on marine life in Davao Gulf when the bridge is there but the reefs are killed?” it earlier said in a statement.

Paradise Reef is home to yellow scroll, brain and table corals, giant clams, red-orange starfish and colorful tropical fish, said Joel E. Tabora, president of the Ateneo de Davao University.

“We are not against the connector bridge,” he said in a statement. “But where there are clear alternatives to destroying Paradise Reef by building the bridge to land in the Costa Marina Beach Resort, here we take a stand for the environment. Build the bridge, but preserve Paradise Reef.” — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza

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