CERVANTES, Ilocos Sur: The Philippines “longest bridge” has been completed and inaugurated.
The Alulung Bridge in this town is considered the longest not because of its length, but because of the time it took to finish – 35 years.
President Benigno Aquino 3rd was supposed to lead the inauguration of the bridge but cancelled his trip due to an allergy attack, a Malacanang official confirmed on Thursday.
The President’s younger sister, Viel Aquino-Dee, took his place. She was joined by Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin.
Mrs. Aquino-Dee apologized to the Ilocanos for her brother’s absence, saying he was not able to attend because he lost his voice.
The 180-meter long bridge bridge, which cost P191.3 million, was conceptualized in 1978 as a five-span reinforced concrete deck girder type of bridge.
The unfinished span was damaged by floods in 1990 and construction was stopped.
The project was restarted in 1999, with a plan to construct the bridge at another portion of the Abra River.
The bridge was completed on March 25. It cut average travel time between Cervantes and Tadian, Mountain Province from one hour to 30 minutes
In a text message, Palace deputy spokesman Abigail Valte said that the President is “feeling under the weather” and instead stayed in his official residence in Bahay Pangarap to rest.
Valte said the President’s allergic attack was due to flowers, which was all over when he attended last Tuesday the anniversary of the Philippine National Police in Camp Crame in Quezon
“It is not due to the floral arrangements at the Palace which are put in strategic places. The President was surrounded by flowers at the PNP event last Tuesday,” she said.
The other schedule of the President, a meeting with Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., was also cancelled, she added.
A similar allergic attack during in his visit to Australia in October last year prompted the President to skip a dinner hosted by then Prime Minister Julia Guillard.
CATHERINE S. VALENTE