Mambaling Flyover opens after shooting

The Mambaling Flyover opened yesterday with a bang. Almost literally.

Less than an hour before the flyover was officially opened to motorists, blood was spattered on the northern approach of the overpass when a snatching suspect fired at two pursuers on a motorcycle.

Because the flyover was scheduled to open, law enforcers were in the area. They immediately apprehended the alleged snatcher, while the two well-meaning pursuers were rushed to the hospital by the Cebu City Traffic Operations Management (Citom) enforcers.

Even when Felix Panugaling was wounded, he punched the arrested suspect Jeffrey Pulgo on the head, while the latter was being escorted by policemen.

Citom Chairman Sylvan Jakosalem was inspecting the flyover when he heard three or four shots.

“We were afraid that the pursuer was hit in a major blood vessel because there was so much blood. But the incident highlights the sense of volunteerism,” said Jakosalem, referring to the two people who just happened to pass by and witness the snatching incident.

Among the witnesses was Jakosalem’s driver, Dominic Restauro, who was surprised to see a commotion on the north side approach of the flyover.

The alleged snatcher was on a bicycle when he pulled out a gun and shot the two men on a motorcycle.

Despite the incident, the opening of the flyover went on around noon.

Open, finally!

Northbound traffic was heavier than southbound shortly before noon yesterday, so Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, Jakosalem, Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Cebu City Director Nicomedes Leonor, contractor Willie T. Go and Citom executive director Rafael Yap decided to open the flyover to northbound traffic first.

A Revolution cab (GWR 138) was the first vehicle to cross the 410-meter flyover.

It was followed by a motorcycle, a red pick-up truck, a San Fernando minibus and a Bulacao jeepney.

Traffic quickly improved, then again was briefly tied up when Rama and Go decided to hail a 10H jeepney on the approach of the flyover. Jakosalem did the same on the next minibus.

Rama said he talked with the passengers, who were thankful for the opening of the flyover. Jakosalem said the minibus driver was happy that he does not have to get stuck in traffic in Mambaling.

Go also said the flyover is completely opened, not just partially, as earlier announced.

Trucks don’t have a problem passing through because dangling wires were immediately reined in.

Signs

Jakosalem said he spoke with the heads of SkyCable, Visayan Electric Company, and the Philippine Long Distance Telecommunication, and told them that WTG Construction volunteered to clear the low dangling wires last Tuesday.

Leonor, though, was not yet satisfied with the opening yesterday because there are still signs that need to be put up.

“We wanted it to open just one-way but due to public clamor, our regional director heeded to the request; but precautionary measures should be in place,” said Leonor.

The missing signs are those that will warn motorists to slow down because of the blind descent of the overpass, said Yap. But Citom assured those will be in place.

Go has placed drums painted black and yellow on the pillar of a skywalk on the side of Mambaling Elementary School. Traffic cones were placed on the approaches of the overpass, in the south, to delineate traffic going to the South Road Properties and traffic going straight to N. Bacalso Ave.

In the north approach, orange traffic barriers were placed so that drivers won’t be able to make u-turns.

No speeding

Rama also wants to put up a sign on both sides saying: “Vehicles turning right, stay right; vehicles going straight, stay left.”

Some motorists congratulated the officials when they passed by them during the opening. Rama reminded them, though, that the flyover is no race track.

While he does not want to take the credit for the opening of the flyover, it was Jakosalem who first announced that DPWH intends to open the flyover only after five to six months, when phase two has been completed.

“We were shocked at that moment and it was a good thing Sun.Star Cebu reported that we

were shocked, we were surprised, and I think they reacted to that. The readers also reacted,” said Jakosalem.

Jakosalem said Citom has been giving the public schedules for the opening of the flyover. He commended Go for doing extra work, even beyond what was needed for phase one.

“We (Citom) gave a sense of pressure to DPWH that it is possible to open it without phase two and it took the support of Citom, DPWH and WTG, who did things beyond their contract,” said Jakosalem.

Companion

The opening freed motorists from traffic jams, but trouble now awaits one man involved in yesterday’s shooting.

Pulgo, 30, was arrested by PO1 Julvi Cañedo and PO1 Jonas Rosales just a few meters from the Mambaling flyover. Pulgo is a resident of Sitio Tinabangay, Barangay Mambaling.

Police investigators learned that Pulgo and a companion identified only as Wendell allegedly snatched a minor’s cell phone in Tres de Abril. The minor cried out for help.

Panugaling, 45, and Arsenio Hanggin, 47, both residents from Punta Princesa, saw the two suspects riding a bicycle.

They quickly chased the duo until they cornered them on the northern approach of the new flyover.

Both were unaware that the suspects carried a caliber .38 revolver.

PO3 Diosdado Andales said the suspects shot Panugaling and Hanggin, who were brought to Chong Hua Hospital for treatment.

Wendell escaped and tossed the gun to a trisikad driver, who surrendered it to the police.

Three empty shells were recovered in the scene, while Pulgo was sent to the Mambaling Police Station, where he is now detained.

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