Robredo vows to prioritize highways, railroad for fellow Bicolanos

Presidential aspirant Vice President Leni Robredo vowed on Wednesday, Dec. 1 to prioritize the construction of an expressway and a railroad that will connect her home region of Bicol to other urban areas in the name of "rural development".

Vice President Leni Robredo (OVP)

She noted on the sidelines of her "Vaccine Express" event held at Virac Town Center in Virac, Catanduanes how easy it is to travel to the north via the North Luzon Expressway, the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway, and the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway.

But going to the Bicol is another story, since it will take almost 16 hours to get there--something that even gets worse during holidays because there’s only one way leading to the region.

“So ang pinakauna, ‘yung highway papunta dito, ‘yung railroad kasi iyon ‘yung makakatulong para ‘yung mga farmers natin makabenta ng kanilang produkto na ‘yung cost of transportation mababa (The first thing is the highway leading here and the railroad because that will help our farmers sell their products with a lower cost of transportation),” she said in a media interview.

“Dito sa Catanduanes ia-assess natin kung paano siya ikakabit sa mainland para, kasi ‘di ba lalo ‘pag bagyo, naaano talaga, nahihiwalay ‘yung Catanduanes, lalo pa ‘pag malakas ‘yung alon, walang flights. Talagang mahirap (We will assess how we can connect Catanduanes to the mainland, because especially when there’s typhoons, Catanduanes gets cut off, especially if the waves are strong, there are no flights. It’s really hard),” she added.

The aspiring president noted that the Philippines has yet to have a Bicolano president. If given a chance to be the first, Robredo promised to do many things for the region especially for Catanduanes, which is an island in the Maqueda Channel.

READ: Robredo hopeful for a solid Bicol vote in 2022, but says she has to work for it

Robredo said she is looking at revisiting a proposal to connect Catanduanes to Caramoan in Camarines Sur, also in Bicol.

The Vice President said the planned interconnectivity is going to “spur rural development” because it will give people easy access to urban centers.

Robredo said she also wants to establish “typhoon-resilient” infrastructure in Catanduanes because the island is prone to storms and floods.

“Maraming pwedeng gawin (There are a lot of things we can do) for the entire region,” she said.

Just last year, the lady official was at the forefront of extending help to island residents after they suffered from flooding caused by two typhoons.

READ: VP Robredo shares best lesson on preparing for a calamity: ‘It’s better to be ‘OA’

Robredo, however, was “very impressed” by the speed of rehabilitation that the island underwent.

“So, iyon ino-owe natin sa (we owe that to the) local government tsaka syempre sa mga Catanduanon, na nalampasan nila. ‘Yung resilience nakita natin sa itsura ng lugar (and, of course, to the Catanduanon, that they were able to endure. We can see the residency in how the place looks),” she said.

Robredo was on the island to oversee her Vaccine Express program. The initiative brought an additional 2,000 doses of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines from the Office of the Vice President’s (OVP) private partners.

She was also impressed by the number of vaccine recipients on the island, noting the good communication work of the local government.

Robredo is also scheduled to meet her local supporters and volunteers with a visit to Catanduanes State University and meetings with Solid Leni Bicol and sectoral leaders, as well as with Bishop Manolo De Los Santos and Rep. Cesar Sarmiento.