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Arroyo revisits RO-RO ports in Cebu ahead of retirement

CEBU, Philippines – With only a week left in her term, Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo visited two roll-on roll-off (RO-RO) ports in Cebu as part of her “sentimental journey” to places that defined her presidency and 3 consecutive terms at the House of Representatives.

Arroyo said she visited Taloot port in Argao, and Liloan in Santander town as her way of thanking Cebuanos for their support.

“I’m really very grateful to the people of Cebu and so I decided that one of my last trips before I end my term as Speaker will be here to say daghang salamat sa inyong kanunay nga pagsuporta kanako (thank you very much for your unwavering support),” Arroyo told her political supporters during a meeting in a resort on Monday, June 17.

The Pampanga lawmaker often credits her 2004 presidential election victory to vote-rich Cebu, where she got 1 million votes and won the presidency over her closest rival, the late Fernando Poe Jr. 

Arroyo, with the ports authority, also announced that 19 new routes are in the works, with 4 already operational.

Two of the proposed new routes are in Cebu from Barangay Punta Engaño in Lapu-Lapu City to Getafe, Bohol; and in Poro, Camotes islands in Cebu to Isabel, Leyte.

Arroyo said that the ports she visited were constructed during her presidency as part of her Strong Republic Nautical Highway  flagship project.  

“It started with agricultural products, because Mindanao is the food basket, and Luzon is the market,” Arroyo told reporters. 

She explained that the project came about based on a study of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) during her presidency, and she saw it as an effective way to reduce the cost of domestic cargo and travel costs.

“So instead of loading and unloading, let the truck enter the boat itself. That’s the RO-RO system,” Arroyo said. 

She also said that RO-RO system boosted domestic tourism in the country, saying that one could take a bus from Cubao to get to Boracay via Caticlan for only P500 by bus.

The RO-RO transport system, which integrated land and sea transport, flourished under the presidency of Arroyo. It reduced interisland transportation costs and  travel time, and also improved agricultural and non-agricultural income, according to a study.

When reporters asked her about her plans after Congress, Arroyo said she would focus on writing her memoir. She had repeatedly said that she would retire from politics once her term ends this year.

Arroyo also denied any presidential appointment was in the works. She had earlier said she was considering taking a post as a provincial government consultant in her home province, Pampanga. – With Ryan Macasero/Rappler.com