P150-M bridge project seen as big factor in Albay congressional race

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Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman. Photo courtesy justiceformelissa.org
Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman. BicolToday.com File Photo 

BACACAY, Albay (7-Mar-2013/PNA) – The winnability of two young opponents who are members of two political dynasties in Albay’s first congressional district would be measured by the performance of and vital projects implemented by their respective patriarchs, political observers here said.

Lawyer Grecon “Grex” Lagman, Liberal Party standard-bearer and son of incumbent Rep. Edcel C. Lagman, and Ricky Ziga, son of former senator Vic S. Ziga who is running under the United Nationalist Alliance, are hotly contesting the seat.

The Lagman-Ziga political fight is considered as the most exciting electoral contest in Albay province.

Observers here believe that the chances of any of them winning would be based on the accomplishments of their respective fathers during their terms of office.

One project that could spell the difference is the P150-million “Tulay ng Pangulo sa Kaunlaran Project” or Sula Bridge project of former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

The bridge connects Cagraray Island through the Sula Channel to Albay mainland.

The Zigas’ political career started in the late ‘40s during the incumbency of former Senator Tecla San Andres-Ziga, Ricky’s grandmother.

It was the Ziga matriarch who originally initiated the establishment of the Sula Bridge during her political reign in early ‘50s to connect Cagraray island to Albay’s mainland to boost the economic and tourism potentials of the so-called “Bicol’s jewel.”

The construction of the multimillion-peso Sula Bridge, which was proposed by San Andres-Ziga, was strongly supported by the then Bicol political bloc.

But her pet project did not materialize until the incumbency of her son, Victor.

Instead, she put up the Cagraray District Hospital in Barangay Cabasan, Cagraray, to cater to the medical needs of the islanders so that they would no longer go to the Ziga District Hospital in Tabaco City.

When Rep. Edcel Lagman won the congressional seat in early ‘80s, he pushed for the construction of the 265-meter Sula Bridge.

Lagman poured in at least P67 million from his Countrywide Development Fund to complete the construction of the bridge.

The project, completed after almost three years of construction, was implemented by the Department of Public Works and Highways regional office here.

Engineer Edgar R. Briagas, project engineer of Sula Bidge, said the two-lane bridge is a modular steel panel (delta) structure.

This bridge project is seen to give favorable political edge to Lagman’s son over the third-generation Ziga scion, whose grandparents and father were the original LP stalwarts in the province.

The Zigas reigned in Albay for almost five decades, from 1949 to 1992.

The Lagmans boast of massive infrastructure development, education for poor but intelligent students, healthcare, livelihood support programs and socio-economic development.

The elder Lagman has been elected to a total of five terms as a member of the House of Representatives, representing the first district of Albay.

He first served from 1987 to 1998, and then from 2004 to the present.

The bridge is seen to hasten the economic and tourism development of Cagraray, which during the term of former President Fidel V. Ramos was declared as an ecotourism destination.

Under the declaration, limestone and marble, which abound in the island, cannot be extracted to preserve the uniqueness of the island and the 28 caves situated in the area. (PNA)

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