House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, began a “sentimental journey” to her favorite projects in the Philippines at the Bacolod Silay Airport in Silay City, Negros Occidental, that was built during her presidency 11 years ago.
“I am going to leave public office on June 30…I want to make a sentimental journey to my favorite projects in the Philippines,” she said.
Asked if she would accept a Cabinet post after June 30, she said “Those things are so hypothetical. There’s no offer and I’m not applying”, the former president said.
Negros Occidental Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. said he told Arroyo not to retire, because, with her experience, she can still help even as a private citizen. “Experience is the best teacher”, he said.
Arroyo, yesterday, joined the 11 th anniversary of the Bacolod Silay Airport that she inaugurated as president on July 13, 2007 and began operations on Jan. 18, 2008.
Marañon and Silay Mayor Mark Golez thanked Arroyo for ensuring the construction of the airport that has brought in a floodgate of tourists and investors to the province.
Marañon pointed out that Negros Occidental has the second highest number of annual domestic tourists in the country, the Bacolod Silay Airport now suffers from overcrowding and needs to be expanded.
The airport was built for 1 million passengers annually and now there are already 1.7 million and growing, it has to expand already, Arroyo agreed.
Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) director general, Jim Sydiongco, who was at the anniversary rites with Arroyo, said P222 million has been allocated for the expansion of Bacolod Silay Airport for 2019-2020 and work has began.
“The expansion is really a wonderful bit of news for the 11th anniversary of the airport. When you inaugurate it again please invite me as private citizen Gloria by that time,” Arroyo told the CAAP chief.
“I am very proud to have been the president who finally built this airport,” Arroyo said.
“There was resistance against building the airport in Silay, it needed political will. If we wanted Negros to progress it could not be with a small airport , it had be an airport of international standards therefore we made a political decision to build the airport here,” she said.
“This is an airport is of international standards and we hope that one of these days there will be regular international flights coming here
That will really make Negros even more attractive not just to domestic but also to international tourists as well,” she said.
She pointed out that Negros Occidental has beautiful beaches like those in Sipalay, and is also now very attractive to investors.
Arroyo said that, to alleviate complaints of the distance from Bacolod and the south of Negros, she also had the Bacolod Silay Airport Access Road built.
Arroyo said that, from the airport and the access road, she was also making another sentimental journey on a roll-on roll-off vessel to Dumangas.
“To me the most important infrastructure in the Visayas are roads, airports and the ro-ro,” she said of the projects built under her presidency.
“We built nautical highways… I was so sad to hear a few years ago that the administration after mine discontinued the rest of the ro-ro port projects,” she said.
Arroyo said she would look into what can be revived.
The speaker said she is glad President Rodrigo Duterte has modernized the western nautical highway.*
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