Senator Franklin Drilon yesterday offered to help the city's officials push for the conversion of the old Bacolod airport site, which he called an idle asset of the national government, into an economic hub that produces wealth for Bacolodnons.
Senators Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, Manny Pacquiao and Drilon were among the guests at the inauguration of the city officials led by Mayor Evelio Leonardia at the Bacolod Government Center last night.
Drilon said there is a new dawn in Bacolod because, for the first time in many years it has a united political leadership, with Mayor Evelio Leonardia, Rep. Greg Gasataya, Vice Mayor El Cid Familiaran, and the bulk of the members of the city council belonging to the same group.
A united political leadership is the key to why Iloilo City's development was able to move faster than Bacolod, he said.
In Iloilo City the 52-hectare old Manduriao airport site has been converted into an asset that produces wealth for the city, he said. It is now the home of the Megaworld and a world class convention center, he said.
The 47-hectare old Bacolod airport site, of which 25 hectares is owned by the national government and 22 hectares by Philippine Airlines, could cost P1.250 billion today, he said.
Drilon urged Bacolod's officials to push for the sale of the old airport property so its can be converted into a commercial and industrial zone that would create more jobs and tax money for the Bacolod City government.
“I am willing to sit down and assist the city of Bacolod to do what we did in Iloilo in developing our old airport site,” Drilon said.
Pacquiao said his priority as senator is to ensure more sustainable livelihood and education.
He joined yesterday's inaugural rites to show his love and support for Leonardia who has been his kumpare and friend in hard times and in good times, Pacquaio said.
Pacquiao said he believes in the leadership of Leonardia who has “a passion for progress and whose commitment to service is solid”.
“His track record shows that he can be trusted with the future of Bacolod. With him as your mayor, you can expect new levels of progress,” Pacquiao said.
Pacquiao also reminded the city officials that “without God in our leadership it is impossible to become successful, and to fulfill our dreams for change”.
If public officials are God-fearing, there will be no need to watch over them as they will not steal money from the government, Pacquaio said.
Pacquiao and Drilon thanked the people of Bacolod and Negros Occidental who voted for them in the May polls.*CPG
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