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Aquino pours P27B into vote-rich Cebu

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LAPU-LAPU CITY—Taking his relentless campaigning for his chosen candidates to opposition-held Cebu, President Benigno Aquino III announced on Friday P27 billion worth of good news for the vote-rich province.

Among the big-ticket infrastructure projects being lined up for the Cebuanos is the Mactan Island Circumferential Road in Lapu-Lapu City that will widen the existing road network and improve access from the Mactan Cebu International Airport to various resorts on Mactan island.

The biggest of these projects in terms of cost is the proposed Mactan Cebu International Airport passenger terminal building, which has a budget of P17.5 billion.

The rest of the projects include a new P1.3-billion Naga power substation; the P1.4-billion Cebu City-San Remegio road improvement project; the P702-million Carmen bulk water project; the P20-million master plan study for the Metro Cebu drainage system; and the P166-million management information project of the Cebu Port Authority.

Earlier on Friday, Mr. Aquino presided at the ground-breaking ceremonies for the P3.7-billion Mactan circumferential road project at Barangay Ibo in Lapu-Lapu City before picking up his campaign schedule in the province, attending scheduled rallies for the administration-allied tickets in the cities of Bogo, Toledo and Cebu.

Public works Undersecretary Romeo Momo said the Mactan island circumferential road project will cover 26 kilometers. The road will start and end in Barangay Ibo and traverse the municipality of Cordova. One kilometer of the road network will have five lanes, two kilometers will have four lanes and the rest will have two lanes.

An initial P300 million has been released—P100 million for road right of way acquisition and P200 million for the construction of a 2.15-km four-lane asphalt pavement, including lanes for bicycles, jogging and plant boxes.

In a speech at the ground-breaking ceremony, Mr. Aquino said the road will cut down the travel time from Cebu City to Lapu-Lapu City by 15 minutes.

He said the project aimed to increase tourist arrivals and encourage more investments on Mactan island.

He said the proposed Mactan Cebu International Airport passenger terminal building project would increase the airport capacity from the two million a year at present to 10 million.

Tourism for all Cebuanos

Without the new facility, the airport would not be able to accommodate the projected increase in tourist arrivals, he said.

“We believe there will be an influx of tourists [to your province] and therefore the facilities have to be there so that we can maximize the tourism industry for all Cebuanos,” he told an audience of about 15,000 at a campaign rally in Bogo City.

Mr. Aquino said there were 11 prospective bidders for the airport terminal project, which was approved by the National Economic and Development Authority in November 2012.

The first phase of the project, with an estimated cost of P8.87 billion, will start in 2014 and is expected to be completed by 2016.

Capitol standoff

On Friday night, Mr. Aquino brought the 2013 election battle to the grounds of the Cebu City Capitol, the scene of a monthlong standoff between suspended Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia and Malacañang last December.

Garcia, who was meted a six-month suspension by Malacañang for an administrative case, held out at her office at the capitol even as her vice governor, Agnes Magpale, held office elsewhere in the building after being appointed acting governor by the Palace.

The standoff ended last Jan. 30 when Garcia left her office to visit Oslob town outside Cebu. When she returned 16 hours later, she found her office had been padlocked on orders of Magpale.

Garcia, who is also facing graft charges before the Sandiganbayan, is a scion of the Garcia political clan that has dominated Cebu provincial politics for decades. She is running for a congressional seat in the city’s third district while her brother Pablo John, will run for her old seat against Hilario Davide III of the ruling Liberal Party. Magpale is Davide’s vice gubernatorial running mate.

Friday’s event on the capitol grounds was the proclamation rally for the administration’s Team PNoy senatorial ticket and the candidates for local positions of the Liberal Party and its allied parties. It was organized by Rep. Tomas Osmeña who is running for Cebu City mayor under the Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK), which is allied with the LP.

Mr. Aquino led nine of the 12 Team PNoy senatorial candidates who attended the rally: reelectionist senators Loren Legarda, Aquilino Pimentel III and Francis Escudero; Rep. Sonny Angara, Jamby Madrigal,  Benigno “Bam” Aquino, Grace Poe, Jun Magsaysay and Risa Hontiveros.

Osmeña and the rest of the BOPK slate as well as the LP gubernatorial candidate Davide and his running mate, Magpale, were also at the rally.

Senior Supt. Mariano Natuel, Cebu City police director, estimated the crowd at 65,000, which reached up to the Osmeña Rotunda, about 1 km from the capitol grounds.

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Tags: 2013 elections , Benigno Aquino III , Cebu

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