By Charissa Luci-Atienza
Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has cited the need to implement infrastructure development projects in the countryside to attract investments and generate employment among the locals.
The former President made the pitch during her weekend trip to Naga City in Cebu where she visited one of her biggest priority projects for Cebu during her presidency – the Cebu South Road.
She cited that the P1.2-billion expansion and rehabilitation of the Cebu South Road project during her time may have improved the financial standing of the southern part of Cebu specifically in Naga, saying that it actually became a city just two years after the implementation of the road expansion project.
“So I was remembering how all of these things probably helped in the development of this part of Cebu so I was happy that in 2008 Naga became a city. Congratulations to the people of Naga that you have done so much to develop the city–the town before that eventually became a city,” she said.
Cebu Rep. Gerald Anthony Gullas Jr. said Naga, indeed, attracted investments and businesses thrived in the city following the P1.2 billion-expansion and rehabilitation of the Cebu South Road project.
“Actually, the National Government allocates money every year to improve the road. Actually, now, we are in the process of widening these roads and making them better for everyone who uses the roads. We’re continuing widening Naga, San Fernando, and Carcar. So that’s the reason why a lot of investments and businesses come to Naga, because of the infrastructure that’s in place because of these projects,” he said.
Arroyo recalled that during her visit to Cebu in 2004 to thank the Cebuanos for their landslide vote for her presidential bid, she was shocked to see that Cebu South Road, which was built by her maternal grandfather, was in a “horrible” and “ugly” state.
“I remember in 2004, my first visit to Cebu to thank the people of Cebu for the one million landslide that you gave me, we passed this way. And that time the road was horrible. I called it the ‘ugly road’. What’s the name of this road? Ugly road. I said, ‘my grandfather must be turning in his grave so we have to fix this road’. Because it was first built by my grandfather, Juan Macaraeg. He was district engineer of the Visayas during the Commonwealth,” she said.
“So we did fix the road all the way from SRP up to Santander. And then we also did the turning right from here up to Toledo. Yes, going southwest. So next time maybe I come, I’ll go and motor to Toledo, and see how that is,” she said.
In 2006, the rehabilitation and expansion of the Cebu South Road was inaugurated. The road has conveniently connected southern Cebu to Cebu City, the central business area of the province, as well as the Mactan Cebu International Airport.
Aside from improving the road network system in Metro Cebu for economic and social development, the road improvement project was also a part of then President Arroyo’s long-term goal of achieving a seamless, efficient and cheaper means of transportation for people and goods through the Strong Republic Nautical Highway.
Arroyo earlier vowed to revisit the priority projects during her presidency to check on their status and determine how she can further provide support and improve their condition before leaving her post as Speaker of the Lower Chamber.
Arroyo has implemented major projects in the province to express her gratitude towards the Cebuanos who gave her a landslide win in the 2004 elections.
“I’d like to take this opportunity again to continue, before I end my political life, to see what happened to the things that we did,” she said.
She hailed the people of Naga City for their efforts to continuously develop their city.
“It’s very beautiful. There are some projects that I did when I was President, and when I went back to them, they have been neglected. Not this one,” she said.