MAASIN CITY-President Rodrigo Duterte pointed out on the need for connectivity, especially in relation to the transportation industry, so the province can move on the path to economic growth.
“Connectivity is what is important now. You have all factors to make it really big, the problem is on connectivity,” the President said in front of a sell-out crowd organizers estimated to be more than 10,000, who occupied virtually the entire stretch of the capitol’s Sunken Garden here Monday(July 2).
The President came here as the main guest of honor in celebration of the 58th founding anniversary of the province but his presence was also seen as a sort of a homecoming, to the land of his birth, as country’s top leader.
He arrived three hours off the original schedule yet was truly received with warmth and rejoicing by his fellow Southern Leytenhons, led by Rep. Roger Mercado, Gov. Christopherson Yap, and City Mayor Nacional Mercado.
Among the Cabinet officials travelling with the President were spokesperson Harry Roque, who held a press conference ahead of the presidential visit, Francis Tolentino, political affairs secretary, Christopher’Bong’ Go, special assistant to the President, Mike Dino, presidential assistant for the Visayas, and Arthur Tugade, transportation secretary.
Duterte personally asked Tugade onstage on what else was needed, and how much time is required, for the Maasin Airport at Barangay Panan-awan to be fully functional, in which the answer given was two years.
“Connectivity is needed so people can come here,” the President said, adding that shipping ports anywhere around the province must also be improved in addition to the full-scale development of the Maasin Airport.
Earlier in the day, Secretary Tugade and top officials of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) inaugurated the new passenger terminal building at the airport.
Tugade was quoted by reporters covering the event as saying that among the work priorities was to extend the airport’s runway from 1.3 kilometers to 1.8 kilometers, in order to accommodate commercial airlines.
Gov. Yap, in his welcome remarks, expressed his gratitude for having served the government at a time when the nation’s highest leader was a native Southern Leyteño, and was a guest in the province’s founding celebration.
“Welcome home, Mr. President,” Gov. Yap declared.
Lone district representative Roger Mercado likewise felt proud of the President’s presence, saying the province’s 58th anniversary was made even more memorable with him around. (mmp/PIA8-Southern Leyte)