, December 7, 2005
(OFFICE OF THE PRESS SECRETARY) President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo released today P20 million for the upgrading of the Central Panay Highway in Capiz as part of the government’s tourist promotion program and improve the transport network in the entire Panay Island.

The President handed the P20 million check to Sen. Mar Roxas after she formally opened Capiz province’s 2005 Sinadya sa Halaran Festival in honor of the 150th jubilee of the Immaculate Conception, the patroness of the province.

In her message delivered in Ilonggo, the President said the improvement of the Central Panay Highway is crucial to the development of the tourist spots in Panay Island as a component of the roll-on roll-off (RO-RO) Strong Republic Nautical Highway.

The President, who arrived here at 10:45 a.m., had a brief meeting at the airport with Senator Roxas, Governor Vicente Bermejo, Representative Rodriguez Dadivas, (1st Dist.), Representative Fredenil Castro, (2nd Dist.), and Roxas City Mayor Antonio del Rosario.

The President then proceeded to the city plaza where she was welcomed by some 2,000 residents, students, barangay officials, and the mayors of the 16 towns of the province.

She also led the ribbon cutting ceremony at the inauguration of the city tourism information center at the city plaza.

The President said Representative Castro had requested for P180 million to upgrade the highways in Capiz to improve the overall road network in the province and ensure the convenient movement of goods and services.

She said that with the P20 million allocation, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) can now start immediately the road upgrading project.

The additional amount needed for the Central Panay Highway project will be included in the 2006 national budget.

"We are determined to institute reforms in order to accomplish vital infrastructure projects," she said in Ilonggo.

She thanked the Capicenos for inviting her to grace the Sinadya sa Halaran Festival. She is the first President to attend the festival.

After delivering her message, the President, accompanied by Governor Bermejo and Capiz Archbishop Onesimo Gordoncillo, lighted a candle at the nearby Immaculate Conception Metropolitan Cathedral

Later, she had lunch with the local officials at the Roxas’ residence in Barangay Baybay before flying to Calapan City in Mindoro to inspect the flood-ravaged areas in the province.

PGMA enjoins all Filipinos in honoring RP SEAG athletes

ROXAS CITY – President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo urged all Filipinos to go all out in honoring the Filipino athletes who participated in the just-concluded 23rd Southeast Asian (SEA) Games and won for the country the overall championship of the biennial games.

In her inspirational message at the opening this morning of Capiz province’s 2005 Sinadya sa Halaran Festival at the Roxas City Plaza, the President said the Filipino athletes would be given a fitting tribute during a victory parade in Manila this afternoon.

The Chief Executive said the Filipino athletes’ ability and determination that resulted in the Philippines’ triumph is something for the Filipinos to celebrate.

"Nakita sa mga katawhan ang abilidad kug determinasyon sang Pilipino na magdaog sa tanan, magdaog sa economic reforms, kag subong magdaog gikan sa sports (The people have seen the ability and determination of Filipinos to win in all aspects, to win in economic reforms, and now in sports)," the President said.

The President, who was wearing a blue blouse matched with a pair of blue pants, said the color blue symbolizes unity in honor of the 150th jubilee of the Immaculate Conception, the patron saint of the province.

She also urged all Filipinos to unite as one country, by setting aside political and ideological differences, just as they did in cheering for the Filipino athletes during the Nov. 27-Dec. 5 SEA Games.

The President also thanked some 2,000 residents, students, barangay officials, and the mayors from the 16 towns of the province who patiently waited for her under the heat of the sun and for inviting her as the first Philippine president to open the Halaran Festival.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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