The Fall Print
Friday, 27 April 2018 11:30

By Bhong Simbajon

In an ironic twist of fate, Zamboanga Mayor Beng Climaco- Salazar and Congressman Celso Lobregat together with other top government officials fell into murky waters after a stilt catwalk they were walking on collapsed during a Congressional site inspection on housing projects for victims of the 2013 Zamboanga siege.

The mishap happened during an investigation conducted by the Committee on Housing and Urban Development chaired by Congressman Albee Benitez.

Benitez himself was among the victims, mostly composed of government officials and City Hall employees, who fell into the water when the catwalk suddenly collapsed.

Most of the victims sustained bruises.  No one suffered major injuries as a result of the accident.

Benitez arrived in Zamboanga City yesterday to conduct an inquiry and a personal on site visit to government housing projects under the Zamboanga City Roadmap to Recovery (Z3R) houses built by the National Housing Authority (NHA).

The officials were intently listening to the explanation of NHA District Manager Al-Khwarizmi Indanan while walking when the catwalk made of wood suddenly collapsed, plunging everyone into the water.

Video footages taken by E-media and Zamboanga Times/ Today show Climaco- Salazar pulling up a portion of the bridge on top of Lobregat.  The solon himself  was pulled out of the water by a security escort.

“This is a very unforgettable experience.  Now it shows how substandard the materials were used to construct these facilities here in Zamboanga City,” said Benitez.

Benitez vowed to investigate the matter in his committee.

“Buti na lang kami yung nahulog, hindi ang mga tao.  Napakadelikado ng gawa nilang tulay. Nakita nyo naman ang resulta,” added Benitez.

The solon, however, failed to address a similar incident minutes later when another portion of the catwalk collapsed, plunging many residents, mostly children, into the water.

During a courtesy call by Benitez on Climaco at City Hall earlier that day, the two officials held a closed door meeting about issues related to Z3R housing units.

Some media people questioned the meeting being closed-door saying that problems on the housing projects should be made public.

After the meeting, the two together with other officials proceeded to inspect the housing units in Rio Hondo, giving everyone a view on the state of the Z3R government housing project.

Benitez said that he will make NHA answerable to the findings made by the committee.

Meanwhile, Lobregat vowed to hold NHA answerable, saying that he will also consult the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) about the matter.  (Bhong Simbajon)