ILOILO CITY – DISPLAYING the kind of leadership that he would conduct if elected in the coming May 9 elections, presidential bet Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. has put premium on progress and interest of the people over politics, when he pushed for the construction of the long –planned bridge that would link Iloilo, Guimaras, and Negros Occidental.
As a result, the proposal elicited the most applause from his Ilonggo supporters when he took the stage during the UniTeam’s rally at the Tamasak Arena, Barotac Nuevo on Thursday.
What was more glaring was that everyone knew the proposed bridge was being advocated by Iloilo Sen. Frank Drilon, an ally of his political nemesis, but this fact did not prevent him from supporting the plan.
“Kailangan po nating ipagpatuloy ang sinimulan ni Pangulong Duterte na ‘Build, Build, Build’ program sa imprastraktura. Pinag-uusapan nga namin kanina kung papaano ang gagawin para matuloy na ‘yung tulay na manggagaling sa Iloilo hanggang Guimaras hanggang sa Negros. Para mabuksan na natin at dumami ang economic activity dito,” Marcos told the massive crowd that waited for hours to see and hear him speak in person.
First proposed in 2017, the bridge will be the longest in Western Visayas, and one of the longest bridges in the country, which will span 32 kilometers and will be divided into two components — the 13-kilometer Panay-Guimaras link, and the Guimaras-Negros link that spans 19.47 kilometers.
“Isa ‘yun sa mga project na pino-propose at kailangan pag-aralan kasi hndi naman gobyerno ang magbabayad niyan. At kung hihingi tayo ng tulong sa ibang lugar kailangan naman maipakita natin sa kanila ang ganansya. Isa ito sa laging napag-uusapan when it comes to our infrastructure development,” he told the local media.
Marcos vowed to pursue the proposed bridge to open up the economy, in connection with his consultations with the Ilonggos on how to help the sugar industry.
“Maligaya kami at narinig naming kasama ang probinsiya ng Panay sa kaniyang mga plano kahit alam niyang hindi siya gaano nakakuha ng maraming boto dito noong tumakbo siya bilang ikalawang-pangulo. Nagpapakita lang ito kung gaano kaayos ang kaniyang magiging liderato kung siya ay mahahalal na pangulo,” Aklan gubernatorial candidate William Lachica said.
Lachica added that he could see the difference in 2016 and Marcos’ recent visit in the province “as the Ilonggos have welcomed him now with open arms and accorded him a warm reception.”
Initially, the Department of Public Works and Highways confirmed that engineering services for the bridge will take place, with financial support from the South Korean government, particularly the Export-Import Bank of Korea.
First proposed during the administration of then president Ferdinand E. Marcos Sr., the prospective bridge will expedite travel by land and allow the people to cross Iloilo, Guimaras, and Bacolod for purposes of commerce, tourism, and other essential travels.
Marcos also emphasized his commitment to pursue the incumbent government’s “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program, which he said will not only hasten the economy but will also produce jobs.
Marcos said his desire to pursue the ambitious project was also aligned with his call for unity, that his vision is profoundly rooted on the idea that every Filipino is needed for the country to achieve its goal.
“Siguro naman kahit hindi tayo nagkakasundo sa pulitika magkakasundo tayo sa adhikain na pagandahin ang Pilipinas. Doon tayo magsimula. Gawin natin itong tuntungan para maabot ang ating nagkakaisang pangarap na iahon ang bayan mula sa pagkakalugmok nito. Tanging ang pagkakaisa lamang ang ating maaaring asahan,” he said.