SENATORIAL candidate and Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos aims to spearhead the crafting of a “One Visayas” development masterplan to transform the island group into an economic and techno hub as well as an arts, culture and tourism center.
“The Visayan group of islands has a rich cultural and historical heritage, has abundant natural resources, and its people are hardworking, resilient, adventurous and gifted with a natural flair for entertainment and the arts,” Marcos said.
“So many of the big names in the cultural scene, creative arts, tourism and entertainment hail from the Visayas – and it is about time that this part of the country be enabled not only to have its fair share in the benefits, but be a dynamic mover of development now going on in the country,” she added.
“We have to carve out a niche for ourselves because there are things that only the Visayas can offer especially in arts and culture, as well as the leisure and entertainment industries,” Marcos said.
She recalled that in the 1970s, Cebu was branded as the “Milan of Asia".
Over the years, however, its furniture, garment and manufacturing industries have weakened. These have found new vitality with the rise in recent years of world-class talents the likes of Kenneth Cobonpoe and Michael Cinco.
“Now is the best time to take stock of what has been accomplished in the Visayas so far, and to lay out a viable unified development roadmap to put the Visayas on track to where it can best develop its potentials. Cebu and Bohol, especially now with their new international airports, lead the way in charting directions for development. Bacolod and Iloilo are now enjoying higher economic growth from better development planning. The circle of economic growth needs to be widened even more to include the other provinces and benefit many more of our kababayans," Marcos said.
“One Visayas” is envisioned to align and harmonize the development priorities of the different Visayan provinces and to capitalize on the strengths and resource potentials of every province.
“This requires building the strategic infrastructure needed not only to link the different islands so as to facilitate movement of goods and people, and enable swift delivery of services and development assistance, but also to establish advanced institutional facilities in education, information and communication technology, public health, arts and culture,” Marcos said.
“We need to make the Visayas a focal infrastructure development arena in the administration’s Build, Build, Build program. Our people should enjoy equitably the benefits of a fast growing economy as much as those in Luzon and in Mindanao,” she added.
Marcos said Luzon will remain the top-of-mind entry point.
"However, all eyes now are on Mindanao, not just because the President is from Davao but also because of its rich, untapped resource potentials and the hope that peace and order needed for development holds with the new Bangsamoro autonomous region,” she said.
“I am committed to the vision of ‘One Visayas’ because I am proudly a daughter of the Visayas - my mother is a native of Tacloban City,” she added.
For 2019, the government’s priority infrastructure projects in the Visayas under the Build, Build, Build program are the P754 million for the New Bohol (Panglao) International Airport; P450 million for the Catbalogan airport in Samar; P50 million for the Tacloban airport in Leyte; P282 million for the New Cebu International Container Port Project; and P75 million for the rehabilitation and improvement of various ports and wharves. (PR)