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‘Transfer Palace, Congress to Lucena’

LEGAZPI CITY—Albay Gov. Joey Salceda has  proposed the transfer of Malacañang, both Houses of Congress, and the national government centers outside Metro Manila, particularly to Lucena City in Quezon, to help solve Metro Manila’s traffic congestion and promote truly meaningful countryside development.

Salceda said transferring the national government seat to a nearby, spacious and safe area will ensure the efficient flow of government’s urgent daily functions unhampered by monstrous traffic jams and flooding in the metropolis—problems that do not have prompt and easy solutions. Lucena is only about 135 kilometers south of Manila.

The more practical recourse, the governor said, is to transfer the national government seat, and its entire apparatus outside Metro Manila, somewhere near, safe and with ample space for better layout, he said. A study revealed that the Philippines is third in Asia and fifth in the world, in terms of traffic chaos.

Salceda said the government could build a new ‘Presidential Mansion’ in Lucena City, resettle both Houses of Congress and develop NGCs in the area designed along the green economy principles in infrastructure planning.  A respected economist and economic adviser to Philippine Presidents, he had pioneered the green economy concept in his province, which has recently gained international acclaim. 

Albay’s Green Economy scheme, as demonstrated by the multi-billion peso Albay GUICADALE (Guinobatan-Camalig-Daraga-Legazpi) Economic Township in Barangay Alobo, Daraga, is anchored on the principles of disaster risk reduction management, particularly its “building back better elsewhere” principle.

Initially a geostrategic intervention scheme designed to move people out of harm’s way in risky areas to safer grounds, GUICADALE is now fast shaping up as an economic development platform to transform its 64,000 hectares of rolling terrain into a sprawling business boom center, with the Daraga International Airport at its center.

Malacañang being the seat of government, and the national government centers, should smoothly function unhampered by chaotic traffic congestion and disaster risks such as flooding, a stark reality in Metro Manila, he noted, adding that the government should reduce infrastructure buildup within  Metro Manila, and instead focus on developing the countryside, especially in areas that support the transport industry and those that would connect as bridges the islands in the Visayas and Mindanao.

The governor said the roll on-roll off transport must be maximized, to efficiently link up Leyte and Cebu, Cebu and Bohol, Bohol and Negros, Negros and Panay, and Leyte and Surigao in mainland Mindanao.

He also proposed the development of new international gateways at the Clark Freeport Zone and other strategic locations; the extension of the South Luzon Expressway to Matnog, Sorsogon via Lucena and Legazpi City; and the construction of the Luzon West Coast Road. These projects, he said, can be funded through a competitive Public Private Partnership scheme and concessional Official Development Assistance, and value engineering to ensure and boost desired results.

The government should heed the popular call to establish a Luzon-wide transportation system that should “pave the way for the construction of an integrated railway system, high-standard highways, and strategically-located airports, seaports and land transport stations in provinces all over Luzon,” Salceda stressed.

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