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Drilon urges gov’t to start building Iloilo-Guimaras bridge

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon is urging the government to begin constructing the bridge that would connect the provinces of Iloilo, Guimaras, and Negros Occidental to avoid incidents such as the wooden-hulled boats that capsized and resulted in the death of 31 passengers.

“The recent tragedy which claimed the lives of 31 people, should leave no doubt on the need for this bridge, regardless of any economic rate of return standard used by our economic managers in deciding on this project,” Drilon said in his speech before Iloilo businessmen and local officials.

He said an ongoing feasibility study on the bridge started last January.

The Senate leader urged Iloilo officials and businessmen to lobby for the construction of the bridge.

“We will lobby and put pressure on the government to commence construction of the Iloilo- Guimaras bridge. We should all join hands in putting pressure to fulfill the wish of many Ilonggos to have this done as soon as possible,” he said.

In the absence of a bridge, people from Guimaras use motorized wooden-hulled boats to go to and from Iloilo.

Drilon is also pushing for positioning Iloilo as a MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions) destination, and the establishment of agro-industrial economic zones.

Iloilo officials and businessmen honored Drilon for contributing to the province’s development during a reception recently hosted by the Iloilo Economic Development Foundation Inc. and the Iloilo-Multisectoral Business Organization Inc.

“Senator Drilon and I have worked on a quite a number of projects, like the construction of the Iloilo International Airport. We cannot underestimate the impact that it has,” said former Iloilo Gov. Arthur Defensor Sr. during the reception.

“The 10-lane highway from the airport to Iloilo City is responsible for opening the eyes of the country that Iloilo is on the road,” he added.

The 15-kilometer Sen. Benigno Aquino Avenue, a project of Drilon, is the main road into the city. It is now a commercial strip, with new hotels and other business establishments.

A 14-km four-lane circumferential road, the Pres. Corazon Aquino Avenue, complements Sen. Benigno Aquino Avenue and gives easy access to the city. It also opened new land areas for development.

“Sen. Drilon has revived interest in our river by developing the Esplanade,” Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Trenas said, referring to the 8-kilometer long, 6-meter wide Iloilo River Esplanade, the longest linear park in the country, which has become a model of urban development. —Amita Legaspi/VDS, GMA News