MANILA -- President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is in Mindanao again for the third leg of her Super Regions tour following the Cyber Corridor.
Arroyo flew to Butuan Tuesday to inspect the ongoing upgrade of the Surigao-Davao Coastal Road project that will link the eastern towns of Bacuag, Surigao del Norte and Mati, Davao Oriental.
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Aside from cutting off the travel time between the two areas from eight to four hours, the road project will also hasten the transport of products and services from Caraga region and Davao Oriental to other ports like Davao.
Under the Super Region strategy, several development projects have been implemented to spur economic growth in Mindanao, which is home to around 21.58 million people (as of 2007 National Economic and Development Authority statistics).
The Mindanao Super Regions' two objectives are: to "unlock" the human and natural resource potentials of Mindanao and free the people from the threat of violence; and restore peace and prosperity.
"Peace remains to be a top priority of the Arroyo administration," Secretary Jesus Dureza, Presidential adviser on Mindanao, told Mindanao journalists during a press conference in Malacañang on Monday.
Peace and development, he said, go hand in hand.
The media briefing was attended by 18 journalists from Davao City, General Santos, Dipolog, Zamboanga City, Iligan and Cagayan de Oro.
Dureza said the government's collective vision for Mindanao is to achieve a vibrant integrated economy in the region by 2010 led by globally-competitive agriculture and agri-industrial sectors; sustained by a dynamic workforce and environmentally-sound resources base; and benefits shared by present and future generations, regardless of political and cultural beliefs.
Dureza said integrated transport and network system in the whole country are now in place. He added that a total of six projects were prioritized with funding requirement of P87.76 billion, eight projects worth P17.45 are already completed, and 22 are ongoing and expected to be completed before June 2010.
"From 2001 to 2009, P51.68 million was spent for the construction and/or improvement of 6,557.47 kilometers of roads and 37,734.23 linear meters of bridges thereby allowing unimpeded flow of products from the production areas to the processing plants and markets and distribution points," he added.
Apart from the completed Surigao-Davao Coastal Road project are the Hawijan-Salug Sinakungan Road, Diosdado Macapagal Bridge in Butuan City. Seven other road projects are still on going, six of them are due for completion before June 2010.
The seven ongoing road projects in Mindanao, Dureza said, are: Sibuco-Sirawai-Siocon-Baliguain; Dapitan-Dakak; Iligan City Circumferential Road; Kapalong-Talaingod; Dinagat Island Road Network; Surigao-Davao Coastal Road; and the Central Mindanao Road connecting Awang, Upi and Lebak.
Meanwhile, the upgrading and improvement works on 21 existing airports in the country worth P26.89 billion have already been completed from 2001 t0 2009. Among them are the P6.4 billion Davao International Airport which was completed in 2003 and the new P7.85-million worth Laguindigan Airport in Misamis Oriental.
Dureza added that seven other airport projects in Mindanao are due for completion by the time Arroyo's term ends in June. These are: Zamboanga Airport worth P451 million; Dipolog Airport worth P478.05 million; Pagadian airport worth P375.46 million; Ozamis airport worth P215.125 million; Butuan Airport worth P592.74 million; Siargao Airport worth P197.50 million; and Cotabato Airport worth P327 million.
"It is not all statistics but physical infrastructure that we see. There's a lot of close cohesion that we can do. Women, local government units, non-government organizations and private sector are now all working for peace and development," the Dabawenyo Cabinet official said. (GAA)