Zamora-Arceo: Planning for sustainability

TODAY, we are celebrating the 121st Philippine Independence Day. After more than a century, our country has gone through transformations while the social and economic landscapes are changing so fast. Others keep tabs and join the ride. But the other half is left behind.

However, observe we must. Remember we should. Let us celebrate our independence as free citizens of this country, hopefully though with renewed commitments to use such freedom for the common good.

And I give one salute to City of San Fernando Mayor Edwin Santiago for doing the right thing in his last term of office. During a brief talk with the Pampanga Press Club at Widus Hotel last week, he enumerated major programs and projects that were designed for sustainable development. The City of San Fernando is seriously following its comprehensive development plan while all other policies for urban development, tourism, land-use and infrastructure are smoothly set in place. The city is aiming for sustainability not only to become more liveable, but also to support the social impact of economic activities in Clark.

The mayor said that he initiated improvements on the city planning during his first two terms but this time, he vows to steer the city in full blast to complete the projects, particularly the P800-million Civic Center that will rise over a 15-hectare land in Barangay Del Rosario-Alasas. The Civic Center will house a central command center, youth center, senior citizens center, technical-vocational school, and a sports center.

At least the City of San Fernando is thinking fast, preparing for the inevitable – social and economic evolution. By far, he is the only mayor in Pampanga whom I heard talking about the future and looking beyond his term. He also knows the value of inclusive development. No one must be left behind. Everyone should be a part of the development and that is sustainability there.

Santiago is both blessed and lucky because he was seated at the Capital in time with the leadership of the dependable private sector leaders like the late Levy Laus of the Laus Group of Companies, Rene Romero of the Romac Group of Companies, Jess Nicdao of the Nidel Management Inc and more. These men are the pillars of the Pampanga Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PamCham), the largest business group in the province so far aside from the Clark Investors and Locators Association (CILA).

In the same meeting at Widus last week, Romero revealed that PamCham fully supports the local government units (LGUs) in Pampanga. The chamber is further advocating its thrusts for business development, socio-economic development and good governance. According to Romero, who is the current president of PamCham, they are now focusing on the major infrastructure projects that would enable the province to be seamlessly connected.

Romero said they are working on the implementation of the Quarry Road project from Porac to Jose Abad Santos Avenue (JASA). They are working closely with the DPWH and the city government. This is a 17 kilometer by-pass road that will cut across Porac and San Fernando and runs parallel with the FVR Megadike East Lateral section.

The chamber president is also confident that with the completion of this road and other road networks from San Fernando to the 4th district, business and tourism will improve by three folds in no time.

And speaking of the 4th district, Romero added that they are pushing for value-adding on local agricultural produce such as tilapia, prawns, vegetables and more. The group is thinking of inclusiveness as well because the other districts are already reaping the spill-overs of economic actions in Clark. Take for example the Calibutbut Industrial Zone, Angeles Industrial Zone and the San Simon Industrial Park. Romero added though that they are also studying the environmental impacts of the industrial areas, especially the industries in San Simon.

Good for Pampanga that it has thinkers, workers and advocates. After the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo and the catastrophic events that followed, Pampanga was doomed and was seen as a dead land. But alas, after 28 years on June 15, Pampanga has proven its resiliency. The partnership of the government and the private sector has led the province to become one of the leading and most progressive provinces in the country.


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