Press Release
March 12, 2014

Drilon: Iloilo's progress possible for whole country

Progress amid problems can be done with political will and effective partnerships, Senate President Franklin M. Drilon said, stressing that the significant developments made by Iloilo within a short period of time is proof that economic recovery and the achievement of developmental goals is indeed possible for the country.

The Senate leader, an Ilonggo native and a staunch supporter of the province, lauded the many signs of Iloilo's growth as he spoke before various business leaders who attended the Iloilo Business Forum held at the Hotel Intercontinental, Makati on Wednesday, March 12, 2014.

The event showcases massive infrastructure developments and projects which represent a highly-energized and proactive economic policy that Iloilo City, along with the entire province, has undertaken in the past seven years.

In his speech, Drilon noted Iloilo's rise from being a one of the provinces of the Visayan region with a gloomy economy to its current status as an economic dynamo poised to retake its spot as the premiere province on the entire southern part of the country.

"lloilo's decline came to a point where its seaport was once described as the "armpit" of the Visayas, where it severely lost its economic luster. It was plagued by pitiful public services, haphazard economic ploys and poor infrastructure. In fact, the title, 'Queen City of the South', which once belonged to Iloilo, was transferred to Cebu more than a hundred years ago because of this," he said.

However, the senator said that the combination of a "united and result-oriented political leadership, and a highly cooperative and effective partnership with members of the private sector in Iloilo has led to monumental reforms and policy improvements, thereby transforming its economic fortune.

"We knew our strengths: our strategic location; our vast pool of talent; our abundant natural resources; and, a growing consumer market. Thus to reduce poverty and make our economy grow, Iloilo's leaders turned to strategic infrastructure development as a means to more investments, which means more jobs," he explained.

According to Drilon, the immense political resolve and thorough cooperation with the business partners like the Iloilo Economic Development Foundation has paid off, in the form of greatly perceivable leaps in infrastructure and economic developments in the province.

"Once-decrepit structures like the Iloilo International Airport and major roads like the Senator Benigno Aquino Avenue have been vastly revamped, while fishing wharfs and shipping ports are being updated to globally-competitive standards. The Iloilo River Esplanade and the Iloilo Convention Center are set to bring in unprecedented levels of local and international tourism revenues for the province," he said.

He added: "Meanwhile, Iloilo's woes regarding its power supply has been resolved, and is now one of the information and communications technology (ICT) hotspots in the country, while its rapid urbanization is attracting the full line-up of the country's biggest real estate firms and consumer brands - such as the Ayala Group and the SM group of companies."

The Senate Chief also pointed to several big-ticket projects in Iloilo including the P11.2-billion Jalaur River Project, an infrastructure project expected to benefit 783,000 farmers in 25 of Iloilo's 42 municipalities, provide 17,000 jobs, and will eventually lead to the doubling of Iloilo's rice production, from 142,000 to 300,000 tons annually.

The construction of a state-of-the-art convention center is part of a major campaign to improve the province's capacity to host and accommodate international occasions such as 2015 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation ministerial meetings, and important domestic events.

There are also various ongoing road infrastructure projects which include the 14-kilometer, 4-lane Iloilo circumferential road, the 150-km Iloilo-Capiz-Aklan highway, and the widening of a 3-lined, 10-lane avenue. The projects are meant not only to relieve Iloilo of its traffic problems, but more importantly, to open hundreds of new areas for development.

"We will not stop pursuing our development goals because we want to show to the whole country that if it can be done in Iloilo, it can be done anywhere," stressed Drilon.

"In Iloilo, we have proven that we can create change when we put our collective interests before our individual wants. In Iloilo, we are nurturing big dreams and are working hard to realize these dreams," he emphasized.

Drilon said the developments in Iloilo can be applied in other parts of the country: "The story of Iloilo is not just the story of the Ilonggos. It is the story of Filipinos. This is the story of people who are determined to scale new heights of economic and social success."

Lastly, Drilon expressed elation at the developments, which have "made Iloilo the 2nd most competitive city in the whole Philippines, and the number one in governance, as stated by the National Governance Council."

In the 2013 SWS Survey of Enterprises on Corruption, Iloilo managers posted a satisfaction rating of 83 percent, the second highest, in terms of the city government's efforts to promote a good business climate. Likewise, of the seven (7) areas outside of NCR that were surveyed, Iloilo businessmen are the most positive at 86 percent calling their business prospects either good or excellent, ahead of Angeles City, Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Cebu and Davao.

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