WELL, it looks like Cebu Province will finally get a light rail transit (LRT).
This was revealed by President Rodrigo Duterte during his first State of the Nation Address (Sona) last Monday.
Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Dino said one of the Duterte administration's priorities is to provide another mass transport system here in Cebu aside from the Bus Rapid Transit, which is supposed to go up for bidding this year.
The Cebu LRT will be realized within Duterte's six-year term. At least, that's what he promised… if I remember his Sona correctly. Internationally-renowned filmmaker Brillante Mendoza's directions were kind of distracting, to put it kindly, so I may have heard wrong but a quick check with people who actually watched and listened to his more than one-hour speech confirmed the former Davao City mayor's revelation.
Barring any extenuating circumstances, the trip to Argao come 2022 might only take 45 minutes—instead of the average three-hour ride today. And it will be inside a comfortable, air-conditioned carriage.
I don't know if it's wishful thinking on my part, but I hope Duterte will make good his promise.
Apparently, I'm not the only one on the edge of my seat for this project to take off. Gov. Hilario Davide III also welcomed the reintroduction of the railway here in Cebu, saying he would support the project. “It's a very good plan, to focus on the public transport system in Cebu. We've long wanted it to materialize,” he told Sun.Star Cebu.
Then he should have voted for his opponent, One Cebu's Winston Garcia, in the last election. After all, it was one of Garcia's campaign promises.
But hey, back then, Davide was dancing to the tune of the previous administration that had ignored Cebu for the last six years. What's important is that the governor supports the project now. To quote Duterte: “Fingerpointing is not the way of honorable men.” So I should try to walk the talk—the operative word being “try.”
Cebu City Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella, who was acting mayor when interviewed for his reaction--Mayor Tomas Osmeña was out of the country with his family--also favored the implementation of a railway system in Cebu, saying that it's long overdue.
I wonder how that sits with Osmeña, who, by the looks of it, washed his hands of the Duterte administration's war against illegal drugs when his police director was replaced. “It's now all up to them. I won't do anything. Let them take over everything,” was his reaction then. Then again, it might not matter what Osmeña thinks. It's not up to him, anyway.
If Congress grants Duterte emergency powers that he had requested during the Sona, the implementation of the LRT can be fast-tracked, Dino had said.
Several lawmakers have already sponsored a bill seeking to grant the President special powers. So it might not be long before the first track is laid here in Cebu.
I'm keeping my fingers crossed.