Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has highlighted the importance of infrastructure development in the growth of a community saying it is what brings investments and employment opportunities.
The former President made this statement during her weekend trip to Naga City in Cebu in which she visited one of her biggest priority projects for Cebu during her presidency—the Cebu South Road.
Arroyo said the P1.2-billion expansion and rehabilitation project of the Cebu South Road project during her time may have spurred growth in the southern part of Cebu specifically in Naga since it became a city two years after the road was expanded during her administration.
“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,” Arroyo said.
Rep. Gerald Anthony Gullas Jr. of Cebu agreed with Arroyo’s pronouncements, saying the road has attracted investments and businesses to Naga. This is the reason why, he mentioned, the Department of Public Works and Highways has been allocating budget for its maintenance and improvement year after year.
“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,” Gullas said.
Arroyo narrated that when she visited 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 an “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.
She added, “(s)o 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.”
The rehabilitation and expansion of the Cebu South Road was inaugurated in 2006. 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 has been going on “sentimental journey” revisiting 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.
Speaker Arroyo has implemented major projects in the province to express her gratitude towards the Cebuanos who gave her a landslide 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 stated.
Witnessing how the road has improved, she lauded the people of Naga City for their efforts to continuously develop their city, and mentioned that these infrastructure projects may have greatly helped in the progress of that area in Cebu.
“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.