Duterte vows to improve Southern Leyte’s connectivity
By Sarwell Meniano and Roel Amazona
MAASIN CITY, Southern Leyte (Philippines News Agency) — President Rodrigo R. Duterte vowed to improve “connectivity” in Southern Leyte to spark development in the province, which is considered by the Chief Executive as one of the areas “ruined” by illegal drugs in the past.
In his 51-minute speech using mainly the Visayan dialect, Duterte asked Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade to prioritize the improvement of the city’s airport and seaport.
“Your island has a lot of room for improvement, but first is connectivity so that people can come here and see what they can do,” Duterte told the crowd gathered at the provincial capitol grounds here.
Tugade, who led the inauguration of the new airport terminal building, said the government will extend the Maasin City Airport runway in Panan-awan village from 1.3 kilometers to 1.8 kilometers.
Initially constructed in 2015 within the 36-hectare airport, the new building can hold 300 passengers daily, or roughly 100,000 travellers per year, according to the transportation department.
The project aims to upgrade the facility from being a community airport to a standard principal class 2 airport, through the construction of additional amenities including parking areas, power house, access road, and installation of furniture and air-conditioning units, which have all been bid-out on June 14, 2018.
Currently, the airport’s runway can only accommodate light aircraft of Air Juan and a Cebu-based flying school for practicing short field take-offs and landings.
The DOTr chief said the Philippine Ports Authority will undertake the transfer of the port’s lighthouse, install solar lighting, and construct a new port operations building to provide efficient service and enhanced navigation at sea.
There are regular trips through slow boat and fast craft from this city to Cebu and Surigao.
Duterte also asked Tugade to establish a sea travel route between Manila and Davao as it will provide a more inexpensive means of transport for travellers. This route, according to him, will benefit the country’s provinces such as Southern Leyte.
In return, the President asked the people of Southern Leyte to help maintain their drug-free status. “Don’t allow illegal drugs to be distributed again here. They have destroyed many lives, ruined the dreams of a lot of people.’
“I will not allow illegal drugs especially in the place where I was born,” said Duterte, who was born on March 28, 1945 in Laboon village here.
Southern Leyte is the first province in the Visayas to achieve drug-free status. The central government awarded the certificate on April 17 this year.
Before the launch of the President’s anti-drug war, there were 462 drug-affected villages in the province, according to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency. The number represented 92 percent of the 500 villages in the entire province. (PNA)