Legarda: Roadmap for Antique’s progress includes Efficient Transportation and Infrastructure

August 24, 2020

Deputy Speaker and Antique Lone District Representative Loren Legarda today said that providing Antique with efficient rural transport and infrastructure will help realize the full potential of the province to become a premier ecotourism destination in Panay Island and in the whole country.

“With various programs and projects to provide livelihood and sustain economic growth, our province will soon be at par with our more developed neighbors. This will be even more guaranteed as investments that come in for the transportation sector and infrastructure system is developed to ensure productivity, opportunity for trade and tourism, social integration, and job generation,” Legarda said.

It was through Legarda’s efforts that the Philippine Airlines (PAL) is now servicing direct flights to Antique via Clark International Airport twice a week. Legarda supported the allocation of funds under the Department of Transportation (DOTr) for the reopening and development of the Antique Airport in San Jose de Buenavista after being non-operational for 12 years.

Ongoing improvements to better serve the passengers are being implemented at the Antique Airport. Among these improvements are the constructions of new apron and taxiways, a spacious passenger terminal building to accommodate more passengers, an Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting Building (ARFF), a powerhouse, a staff house, a new administration building, and security and perimeter fence with target date of completion on November of this year.

Under the implementation of community quarantine, PAL had scheduled special flights from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) to bring home locally-stranded individuals (LSIs) to the province and vice versa.

Also through Legarda’s effort, the Archipelago Philippine Ferries Corporation (APFC) decided to offer new FastCat RoRo routes to cater to Antiqueños and tourists who want to travel to the province. FastCat had its ceremonial voyage from Lipata Port in Culasi to Caticlan Port on May 6, 2019 and on June 29, 2020 FastCat launched its maiden voyage from Caticlan to Caluya.

FastCat trips from Bulalacao, Oriental Mindoro to Caluya, Antique and from Caluya to Caticlan Port in Malay, Aklan, and return trips for both legs are scheduled every Monday. Travel time from Bulalacao to Caluya is approximately two and a half (2 1/2) hours, while the Caluya-Caticlan route has an estimated travel time of two (2) hours.

“Antique has so much to offer, from the beautiful sceneries to local foods and crafts to cultural heritage. I wanted Antique to be more accessible not only for the convenience of my kasimanwa but to tourists and investors who would want to experience the hidden charm of the province. The opening of the Antique airport and the availability of RoRo routes will bring Antique closer to its goal of being one of the premier ecotourism destinations in the country,” Legarda said

Aside from the improvement of transportation services, Legarda has ensured that the needed infrastructure such as roads, bridges, and ports are also in place. Legarda supported the improvement/rehabilitation of 11 ports in the municipalities of Anini-y, Culasi, Pandan, Hamtic, Caluya, Barbaza, and Libertad under the budget of the DOTr. She also supported the allocation under the Department of Agriculture (DA) for the construction of various farm-to-market roads in Antique to ease the transport of goods of Antique farmers.

Legarda also supported the allocation under the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for the ongoing construction of access roads and bridges in the province, which include the coastal road along Barangay Comon-San Pedro in San Jose de Buenavista, Sabang West Road in Bugasong, the road widening along Iloilo-Antique Road, the Pandan Ecotourism Road, the construction of the Sibalom bridge along Sibalom River, Ypayo bridge along Iloilo-Antique Road, and the Vilvar Bridge along Vilvar-Nasuli Road in San Remigio, among others.

The construction of the Pandan Ecotourism Road, which aims to provide easier access to transport produce such as coconuts that come from the uplands to the town proper, is underway and will soon be utilized to connect the seven upland barangays of Pandan, namely, Perfecta, Badiangan, Sta. Ana, San Joaquin, Napuid, Aracay and Ma-adios, to the main town and will shorten travel time from one hour to 15 minutes only. Meanwhile, the construction of the Vilvar Bridge in San Remigio, which was one of the long-held dreams of Antiqueños living in one of the municipalities with the highest poverty incidence in the province, is also ongoing.

“I have ensured my kasimanwa before that I will bring the government closer to them and I will do every effort possible to ensure that the province will soon attain inclusive growth. I believe that enhancing transportation services and infrastructure development is indispensable in fighting poverty, boosting trade and tourism, job generation and the promotion of local livelihood,” Legarda concluded.#