What Cebu needs: Water, aid for rural poor, new Mactan airport | Inquirer News
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What Cebu needs: Water, aid for rural poor, new Mactan airport

/ 07:14 AM April 26, 2013

When other Asian cities have overtaken the country, what does Cebu need to get back on track as a competitive city?

The answers varied for eight local candidates in yesterday’s second leg of the Mega Cebu Candidates for a held at the Cebu Cultural Center.

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To fight poverty, vice gubernatorial bet Agnes Magpale of the Liberal Party said she would increase, even double , the Capitol’s budget for scholarships for public school students.

Education, she said, is the best way for low-income families to rise from poverty.

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LP gubernatorial bet Hilario Davide Jr. said rural areas have long been neglected with a meager budget for agriculture so he would boost aid for the Farmer Training Program pioneered by his uncle, Dr. Romulo Davide “to cover all towns and barangays.”

Joseph “Ace” Durano, LP’s candidate for the 5th district congressman, said Cebu’s growth depends on water, but needs a “framework” to speed up developing sources like the Carmen Bulk Water Project, which he helped put together.

“Much of the growth we have seen in Cebu has been in urban Cebu. There needs to be a balance with increased growth in productivity in rural Cebu,” said Durano.

If elected, the former tourism secretary who seeks a return to the House of Representatives, said he would work with House leaders and stakeholders to push a Sustainable Water Source Development and Management Law.

AIRPORT TRANSFER

Big-ticket projects are being pushed by LP mayors of Cordova and Consolacion, both seeking reelection.

Cordova Mayor Adelino Sitoy set off a lively discussion with his proposal to transfer the Mactan International Airport to his town near Shell Island where “there’s space for two runways like Singapore” and 1,000 square meters for expansion.

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He said the existing airport, now being bidded out for a P17.5 billion expansion contract, has limited space for growing needs of the passenger terminal, and that both ends of the runway come with height restrictions for nearby buildings due to the flight path of planes.

The clamor for a third link between Mactan and Cebu mainland – whether it’s a bridge or underwater tunnel – also points to Cordova, he said, where there is “no land issue” and is only 520 meters from Cebu City.

Consolacion Mayor Teresa Alegado, who vigorously supported the Mega Cebu vision in her opening remarks, said her fast-growing town is ideal for a planned international container port.

She threw her support behind a Bus Rapid Transit system, and said she would develop tourism and improve roads in the town, aside from revise the Comprehensive Land Use Plan of Consolacion so investors would know how to plan their projects.

HIGHEST POVERTY

Cebu has the highest poverty rate in the country, said Evelyn Nacario Castro, executive director of the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc., in her welcome remarks to the non-debate forum that asked, “What’s your vision of growth for Cebu?”.

Although there are many investors , “we need to choose leaders who will work to improve our conditions, leaders with vision and who will transcend their terms of office,” she said.

Efrain Pelaez Jr., LP candidate for Lapu-Lapu City mayor said there was “no use making grand plans” when “corruption” was pervasive in the local government.

He said the first priority was to “fix our backyard and front yard and clean the house.” Pelaez said he wanted to build a hospital for the poor, and conduct a census of poor families in Lapu-Lapu so that they can be given options for housing and livelihood.

Pelaez said his first priority was to “restore decency and end corruption” under the administration of Lapu-Lapu Mayor Paz Radaza and her husband Rep. Arturo Radaza.

Mega Cebu covers seven cities and six towns from Danao city in the north to Carcar city in the south, part of an ongoing two-year effort to steer collaboration and well-planned growth.

Asked what was their vision of growth, Davide said he wants a Cebu where families have a better life through “equitable growth”, but lamented that “nothing much has happened in the rural areas.”

He said his “most ambitious goal” is to “restore trust and cooperation between people and the government” so development can take place.

Liloan Mayor Duke Frasco of One Cebu said he would focus on health and education if he wins a third term in office, and would continue the town’s free health services and scholarship program which now supports 497 college scholars.

He said the Mega Cebu thrust was a “great way to get mayors together so we can work together” and that “Liloan is on its way to becoming a city.”

Lawyer Victor Biaño of the United National Alliance said he would implement Mandaue’s Drainage Master Plan to reduce flooding, unify the two Mandaue City Colleges in order to offer free college education, and focus on “moral transformation” with reforms to wipe out graft.

The next round of the Mega Cebu Candidates Fora will be on Monday with Team Rama/One Cebu and independent bets in Cebu City and Cebu province./Eileen Mangubat, Ador Vincent Mayol with Christine Emily Pantaleon

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