MANILA -- Nacionalista Party (NP) standard bearer Senator Manny Villar vowed to extend the South Luzon Expressway (SLEx) to Bicol region if elected.

Villar said this move will further boost the economy and the tourism industry in the province.

“The only way to stimulate the economy and boost tourism in the Bicol region is to extend SLEx all the way up to Sorsogon. I know it is not easy to do that, but we can first extend SLEx to Lucena City as an initial phase,” Villar said when interviewed by a local radio station in Bicol.

The presidential bet said the second phase can be in Naga City, Camarines Sur up to Sorsogon.

He added that if this project will push through, about five million residents of the regions and other adjoining provinces will benefit in the program.

Villar also said extending SLEx to Bicol provinces would complement the proposed extension of the Light Rail Transit toward the South, particularly to Lucena and Bicol.

Over the weekend, Villar and NP senatorial candidates courted voters in Legazpi City and Tiwi in Albay and Sorsogon City and Casiguran in Sorsogon just before the big rally held at the Freedom Park at Naga City.

The event was attended by boxing champ Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao who is running for congressman in Saranggani and Wowowee host Willie Revillame. (Glaiza Jarloc/Sunnex)