Caluag, other parties settle San Jose bridge obstruction problem

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The long overdue opening to traffic of a contentious bridge in Panlumacan, Barangay San Jose, this city, now gets closer into realization as an amicable settlement between the concerned parties – including the City Government – and one house blocking its path has taken place.

AMICABLE SETTLEMENT. Barangay San Jose, City of San Fernando, Pampanga captain Mercy Macabali visits the unused Panlumacan Bridge with the owner of one of two blocking houses Rogelio Simeon on September 12, 2022.

This 27-meter-long bridge was completed in 2016 by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). But, as of this writing, it has remained unused due to blocking issues caused by two properties.

This has been forcing vehicles and pedestrians – most of whom are young students and personnel of University of the Assumption (UA) in the neighboring Del Pilar village – to use the narrow old steel bridge beside it.

Upon learning of the problem during an inspection activity in San Jose, City Mayor Vilma Caluag immediately called for a meeting with all the concerned agencies and institutions, and the families to settle the current issues.

After several years of failed series of negotiations, on September 9, 2022, one house that occupies a larger amount of space and is comprised of five families, has finally agreed, with the guidance of their public lawyers, to have their house demolished and vacate the area after an amicable settlement between them and the concerned parties took place.

“Hindi natin masasagot ang pangunahing rason kung bakit nakipagkasundo sila atin pagkalipas ng maraming taon. Pero sa ating pakikipag-usap sa mga pamilya, ipinangako natin na sa gitna ng kasunduang ito, hindi natin sila papabayaan at kung ano ang napag-usapan, iyon ang matutupad kaya [ang] tiwala [nila] sa atin ang naging susi ng kasuduan,” said Caluag.

Apart from the compensation to be given through the government’s zonal valuation, families under the said house will be receiving several kinds of support from different parties, according to San Jose captain Mercy Macabali.

On September 12, 2022, Macabali visited the site with Rogelio Simeon, 64 years old, who was representing his other family members in the settlement. Macabali said the Simeon family is to receive the following:

·Financial assistance from both the DPWH and UA;

·A housing unit from the City Government under its socialized housing program;

·City Government’s provision of materials for the construction of the temporary relocation house in the said lot; and

·Provision of demolition tools and equipment by the San Jose Council.

Caluag’s assertion was seconded by Simeon, citing “king pamikasundu mi kang Mayora (Mayor Caluag), ikit at penamdaman mi ing sinseridad na ketang sinabi ng ali na kami paburen, kayabe ing kekaming kapitan (Captain Macabali). Ngeni, menakit na kaming kakampi at tiwala ing bibye mi karela,” he cited.

(Sa ating kasuduan kay Mayor Caluag, nakita at naramdaman natin ang kanyang sinseridad, pati na kay Kapitan Macabali, na hindi nila kami papabayaan. Ngayon, nakahanap na kami ng kakampi at tiwala ang aming ibinibigay sa kanila)

Macabali said the San Jose council will be providing guidance to the families as the amicable settlement will now be followed by succeeding procedures prior to the relocation and demolition activities.

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