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GMA to critics: I'll take bashing for RP development

- Manny Galvez -

BALER, Aurora , Philippines  – Confident that what she was doing would be for the country’s economic good, President Arroyo yesterday said she would just endure the criticisms against her in the remaining months of her term.

Mrs. Arroyo said she would roll with the punches and continue to make “hard and unpopular decisions” for as long as these will bring progress to the country.

“I have made hard and unpopular decisions but it’s okay as long as it would bear fruit in terms of development,” she said in her speech at the 31st foundation anniversary of Aurora as a province at the capitol grounds here yesterday morning.

Mrs. Arroyo said since she first became president in 2001, she has been focused “like a laser beam” to develop the country.

She led wreath-laying ceremonies yesterday morning at the monument of Doña Aurora, assisted by Gov. Bellaflor Angara-Castillo and Lt. Gen. Ricardo David Jr., Northern Luzon Command commanding general.

The rites were also attended by Sen. Edgardo Angara, House Deputy Majority Leader Juan Edgardo Angara, Baler Mayor Arthur Angara, Vice Gov. Gerardo Noveras and other local officials.

She was later presented with a joint declaration of Aurora as an insurgency-free province by Angara-Castillo, 702nd Infantry Brigade commander Col. Felicito Trinidad and provincial police director Senior Superintendent Romulo Esteban.

The joint declaration of the whole Aurora, once known as a communist hotbed, as insurgency-free is in keeping with her administration’s deadline of eradicating the Maoist rebellion by June.

In her speech, the President cited her administration’s goals to develop the province, including the establishment of the Aurora Special Economic Zone Authority, and construction of a tri-modal transport system such as an airport and seaport in Casiguran and a ro-ro port in Dingalan.

She also commended Senator Angara, a native of this town, for authoring several fiscal measures in Congress for the country’s economic development.

Mrs. Arroyo justified the allocation of thousands of hectares for agribusiness development, particularly in the ASEZA site in Casiguran which would open it up to agribusiness. The land eyed for development in Casiguran had been criticized for allegedly causing massive displacement of residents and agriculture workers.

Mrs. Arroyo, assisted by Department of Trade and Industry regional director Bless Lantayona, later turned over 25 bamboo desks to the Diego Ortiz Elementary School under the engineered bamboo project.

The project aims to help cultivate and produce bamboo to supply 25 percent of the P10-billion desk requirements of the Department of Education.

She later motored to nearby Dipaculao town for an ocular inspection of the P375-million Dibutunan Bridge in Barangay Mijares, Dipaculao, considered the longest in Luzon.

It is part of the P2.2-billion, 120-km Baler-Casiguran Road, which serves as an alternate route to Dalton Pass going to Cagayan Valley.   With Michelle Zoleta

AURORA SPECIAL ECONOMIC ZONE AUTHORITY BALER MAYOR ARTHUR ANGARA BALER-CASIGURAN ROAD BARANGAY MIJARES BELLAFLOR ANGARA-CASTILLO AND LT BLESS LANTAYONA CAGAYAN VALLEY CASIGURAN DALTON PASS DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION MRS. ARROYO
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