CEBU, Philippines – President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. mentioned focusing on regional development outside of the National Capital Region several times during his State of the Nation Address on Monday, July 26, to the delight of officials in the Visayas.
In Cebu province, Governor Gwen Garcia said the Visayas region’s economic center was “top of mind” during the speech.
“[It was] very comprehensive,” Garcia said.
While other presidents have made similar promises in the past, the reelected governor was confident Marcos would be able to deliver.
“[It was] short on motherhood statements and long on concrete plans. Candid about our situation but hopeful and focused on the way forward. More importantly, for Cebu, we are topmost in his mind in terms of infrastructure. The President’s overall plans are in synch with Cebu’s direction. Finally, I applauded the loudest when he stated emphatically, ‘No more lockdowns,’” the governor added.
Garcia’s One Cebu party helped deliver at least 1.5 million votes for Marcos in the country’s most vote-rich province. (READ: Cebu turns red: Former opposition bailiwick gives Marcos his biggest win)
As traffic continues to choke Metro Cebu, Marcos also mentioned he would support the revival of the Cebu railway and the long-delayed Bus Rapid Transit project. (READ: How Cebu is dealing with a Jeepney shortage)
Bacolod Congressman Greg Gasataya said Marcos’ support of ecozones would benefit his district.
“With President Marcos’ promise of full support in economic zones, we remain optimistic for the establishment of the Bacolod Special Economic Zone to provide employment opportunities and decentralize development through House Bill No. 292,” Gasataya said.
“It is likewise high time that we have the executive branch put renewable energy on top of its agenda considering that Negros is one of the most progressive renewable energy hubs in the country,” he added.
Negros Island faces perennial rolling blackouts.
“The measure we filed this Congress incentivizing renewable energy storage facilities will go hand in hand with the President’s policy of increased use of renewable energy in pursuit of climate change mitigation, clean energy, sustainable development, and rural electrification,” Gasataya said.
Tourism is a sizable chunk of the economy in the Central Visayas region, even more in Lapu-Lapu City, which is what stood out the most for Mayor Junard Chan.
“I believe that once the economy reopens it is expected to grow rapidly, especially since tourism is our bread and butter in the city of Lapu-Lapu. Tourism will be prioritized to promote the Filipino brand of hospitality and create more jobs to boost our tourism industry,” Chan said.
His city is home to the country’s second busiest airport and serves as the international gateway to cities in both the Visayas and Mindanao region.
Marcos appointed a Cebuana, Christina Garcia-Frasco, the daughter of the Cebu governor, to head the tourism department.
Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas said in a statement on Monday evening, July 25, that he applauded the “positive and dynamic direction” of Marcos’ SONA.
“I am elated that he wants to revive the Panay Railways, and continue all effective infrastructure projects in the Visayas Region. He showed proactive points on health, agriculture, and agrarian reforms. The Iloilo City Government welcomes his sound outlook for OFWs, migrant workers and foreign policies.I also admire his stance on environment, PPP and focus on quality education,” Treñas said.
Treñas supported former vice president Leni Robredo in the 2022 election and heads one of the few localities where Marcos did not win.
Still he said that he was “excited” to work with Marcos in the coming years.
“Iloilo City under my administration is excited to work with his plans for the coming years,” the mayor said. – with reports from John Sitchon, Marchel Espina/Rappler.com