Friday, June 27, 2014

PNoy, Drilon to inaugurate P4-B infra projects in Western Visayas

MANILA-President Benigno S. Aquino III, together with Senate President Franklin M. Drilon, will inaugurate and inspect on today/June 27 P4 billion worth of infrastructure projects which will improve tourism, connectivity and business efficiency in Western Visayas.    

The Senate leader, an Ilonggo native and known champion of Iloilo in the national political level, will accompany President Aquino in a tour that featured about nine major infrastructure projects ranging from road expansion projects, social housing units, bridges and major regional facilities.

President Aquino earlier urged his Cabinet during a meeting with the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) Board to focus on completing similar ongoing projects and “to lay the groundwork for long-term economic development and inclusive growth.”

The projects include the P2.1-billion Iloilo circumferential road, the P700-million Iloilo Convention Center, the P500-million Senator Benigno Aquino Jr. Avenue and the P170-million Iloilo River NHA Subdivision Phase I in Barangays Camalig and Lanit Jaro.

The lawmaker said that the support of the President was especially crucial in the overall realization of these projects.

“The executive initiative and concern was a great impetus towards the realization of these projects that would ultimately benefit not only Iloilo, but the national economic situation as well,” Drilon stressed.

“We Ilonggos would like to express our heartfelt appreciation President Aquino in his support to every step we take in the road to development. We are grateful that the Aquino administration sees us as active players for national growth, and that national assistance has been made available in our most crucial undertakings,” he emphasized.

The Senate chief explained that the road and bridge projects are expected to provide significant improvements in Iloilo’s logistical capacity, while the housing projects are seen to contribute to Iloilo’s social programs.

The convention center, on the other hand, is seen to expand Iloilo’s tourism industry and enhance its bid in becoming the regional hub for major local and international events and summits.

Also joining the President are Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson, and Budget Secretary Florencio Abad.

Iloilo circumferential road

President Aquino will conduct a drive-through inspection of the four-lane 14.18-kilometer Iloilo Circumferential Road which cost P2.1 billion charged against the 2011 to 2014 General Appropriations Act.

Drilon described the Iloilo Circumferential Road (C-1) as a new road opening which is envisioned to serve as the most fundamental component of the road network in Metro Iloilo area.

“This new road will not only relieve Iloilo of traffic, but more importantly, will open hundreds of hectares of new areas for development,” he added.

Iloilo Convention  Center

President Aquino will also conduct an inspection of the P700-million Iloilo Convention Center located at Iloilo Business Park in Barangay Mandurriao in Iloilo City

Drilon said the two-storey convention center, which will be situated on a 1.7-hectare of lot donated by the Megaworld, sees completion by end-2014.

The new edifice will have an iconic design inspired by Iloilo’s Dinagyang and Paraw festivals. It is designed to attract and accommodate large sized conferences, summits, congresses, fairs, and trade shows and exhibits. It can accommodate more than 3,700 people, noted Drilon.

“This is a realization of a lifelong dream of the residents of Panay Island to have their own highly impressive and sophisticated convention center at par with those of Cebu and Davao’s that will be capable to hold the best and the most glamorous of the conferences, exhibitions, among others,” said Drilon.

“This project is designed to position Iloilo as a prime convention destination in the Visayas,” he added.

Improvement of Sen. Benigno S. Aquino Jr. Avenue

Another road infrastructure President Aquino and Drilon are set to inaugurate is the Sen. Benigno Aquino Avenue, which was widened into a tree–lined, 10–lane avenue, complete with red-tiled bicycle and pedestrian lanes.

The avenue, commonly known as the Iloilo-Jaro Diversion Road, is the main gateway to the city from the Iloilo International Airport in Cabatuan. It also connects Iloilo City to other central towns in the province.

The road improvement cost P494.2 million and includes widening of concrete pavement in both directions, provision of a bicycle and walk lanes, construction of a two-lane service road, loading and unloading bays, sidewalks, drainage system, and planting of tress and ornamental plants.

Drilon pointed out that the newly-renovated road is very conducive to pedestrians and bikers: "This kind of road inspires and helps commuters shift to biking and walking. Given the heavy traffic in the streets of our cities, there is a great potential for bicycles and walking to be the preferred mode of transportation for our countrymen on the go.” 

Drilon noted that such initiatives are not exactly unheard of in the country, as he pointed to several road projects in Iloilo which the senator had supported, where non-motorized travel has been integrated in the road systems.

The senator thus said that similar efforts should be made throughout the entire country: "We need to explore more options and choose the best alternatives. These programs will not only help alleviate our environmental concerns, but they will also promote a healthier regimen for our people.”

Low-cost housing

The President will also formally turn-over some 1,000 low-cost housing units to their beneficiaries. The P170-million Iloilo River Subdivision Phase I in Barangays Camalig and Lanit, Jaro is now home to 1,000 families, who used to live on the banks of the Iloilo River and have been a major source for river pollutants.

“Today, because of our efforts, the river is no longer a community toilet, but a place where people can fish,” said Drilon.

Drilon said that multisectoral organizations have been tapped to ensure the families’ welfare and spearhead a social preparation, and "to address the different needs of this newly-organized community.” 

“The provision of housing units alone would not solve the problem of poverty and lack of support affecting every informal settler. Any effective plan then would need to strike at the socio-economic roots of the problem,” said Drilon.

Drilon said that President Aquino is also expected to conduct a drive-through inspection of five key bridges in the province including the Aganan Bridge in Pavia Iloilo (P66 million) and the Iloilo Bridge (P88.2 million), the Iloilo Bridge II (P150 million), the Jaro Bridge (P157.7 million), and the Floodway Bridge (P53 million) located in the city.

Drilon also cited the P11.2 billion Jalaur River Multi-Purpose Project Phase II as among the big-ticket projects being undertaken in Iloilo. The project will provide uninterrupted irrigation water supply to 32,000 hectares of farm land and benefit more than 783,000 farmers in Western Visayas.

Follow Iloilo’s lead

Drilon said the developments in Iloilo can be applied in other parts of the country: “We will not stop pursuing our development goals because we want to show to the whole country that if it can be done in Iloilo, it can be done anywhere.” 

“What we see here is not the vision and effort of a select few. This truly is an endeavour that enjoyed assistance from the executive, local government units, and our great partners in the business sector,” Drilon said.

Drilon emphasized that the successes being experienced in Iloilo is a combination of a "united and result-oriented political leadership, and a highly cooperative and effective partnership with members of the private sector in Iloilo.”

“We can only do that if we can create an environment conducive to investment. More investments mean more jobs. More jobs mean less poverty. To attract investments, we embarked on a massive public infrastructure development,” Drilon underscored.

“In Iloilo, we have proven that we can create change when we put our collective interest before individual interest. In Iloilo, we are nurturing big dreams and are working hard to realize these dreams,” he concluded. 

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