By Jeanne Michael Penaranda
CEBU CITY – President Rodrigo Duterte inaugurated on April 27 the P30-billion Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway (CCLEX) project, which connects Cebu City and mainland Cebu with Cordova town and the island of Mactan.
Two days following the inauguration, the 8.9 kilometer CCLEX, touted as the longest modern bridge in the country, was opened to the public, triggering heavy traffic as hundreds wanted to be among the first to use the expressway.
During the event, Duterte thanked the Cebu City government and the Cordova municipal government, and the Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. (MPTC) and its subsidiary Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway Corp. (CCLEC) which undertook the project, for the completion of the new “iconic” landmark despite the challenges brought by the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic and Typhoon Odette (Rai).
Also on the same day, Duterte led the celebration of the “Adlaw ni Lapulapu: 501st Anniversary of the Victory at Mactan” at the Liberty Shrine in Barangay Mactan, Lapu-Lapu City, marking the earliest recorded indigenous Filipino resistance to foreign intervention in 1521.
Duterte witnessed the highlight of the event, the reenactment of the Battle of Mactan and a cultural show organized by the Lapu-Lapu City Government.
The occasion also served to close the Mactan part of the 2021 Quincentennial Commemorations in the Philippines, the consolidated national and local program for the remembrance of the historic events of 1521 and the Philippine part in the First Circumnavigation of the World.
“It is only fitting that he will be immortalized with a new monument and museum in the Lapulapu shrine. It is my hope that its construction will proceed at the soonest possible time,” Duterte said in his speech.
“Your support for this administration’s goal to boost regional development, provide a comfortable life for every Filipino, and realize our vision of a strongly united nation is truly commendable,” Duterte said.
“Your hard work and dedication to ensure the completion of this monumental task are equally noteworthy,” he added.
He said the CCLEX will not only help solve the “perennial traffic issues” of Metro Cebu but also result in an increase in economic productivity through safer, faster and more convenient means of transporting goods, as well as people.
Duterte vowed that as president of the country, he will continue to work hard to bring a “more comfortable life” for all Filipinos “through sustainable, safe and reliable infrastructure for better mobility transport, especially that we are really crowding every space now.”
MPTC chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan said the P33 billion project would draw business and investment to Cebu.
“It will bring in more investments, stimulate trade and commerce, revitalize tourism, and give a collective sense of pride among its people,” Pangilinan said.
MPTC president and chief executive officer Rodrigo Franco noted that foreign direct investments had already begun pouring into Cebu City and Cordova.
Others who attended the event were top government officials and executives from the private sector, including Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez, Public Works Secretary Roger Mercado, Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn F. Garcia, Cebu City Mayor Michael L. Rama, Cordova Mayor Mary Therese P. Sitoy-Cho, Mandaue City Mayor Jonas C. Cortes, Talisay City Mayor Gerald Anthony V. Gullas Jr., and Cebu Archbishop Jose S. Palma.
The municipal government of Cordova has committed to lay a strong ground in promoting responsible development, particularly in tourism, as the town expects to attract more investments with the opening of the P30-billion and 8.9-kilometer Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway (CCLEX).
Town officials said President Rodrigo Duterte was set for the opening ceremony of the iconic expressway that connects the island of Cordova and Mactan to this capital city.
Cordova Mayor Mary Therese Sitoy-Cho said even before the realization of this P30 billion toll bridge, Cordova has been positioning the town as an eco-tourism gateway in the Visayas.
Becoming a gateway to the southern part of Cebu is a big advantage for Cordova. Cho expects to host not only more tourism and real estate investments, but also other employment generating industries like business process outsourcing and retail.
Cordova has already crafted enhanced local government policies to support the robust development in the town moving forward, with serious emphasis on responsible development, the lady mayor said.
Now with heightened interest from investors, Cho said the existing laws and regulations in responsible development are strengthened.
It is no doubt, she said, that Cordova will be one of the immediate beneficiaries of the CCLEX. In fact, big-ticket investors such as SM Prime of the Sy family are already positioned to take part in the expected economic turnaround.
“My vision for Cordova, as reflected in the LGU’s mission-vision, has always been for Cordova to become the eco-tourism gateway in the Visayas. This is supported by my platform of governance, which has not changed ever since I decided to become a public servant until now,” Cho said in a statement.
The town mayor cited that the CCLEX and the Mangrove Propagation and Information Center, also a joint project between Manny Pangilinan’s Metro Pacific Group and Cordova, “surely are instruments toward the realization of our vision”.
The 8.9-kilometer CCLEX was set for soft opening on April 30.
Cho said this development is a “dream come true” for Cordova, owing to the significant efforts contributed by her predecessor father, the late Secretary Adelino Sitoy during the conceptualization of this important landmark.
CCLEX is a project of the Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway Corp. (CCLEC) in partnership with the local government units of Cebu City and the Municipality of Cordova.
CCLEC is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. (MPTC), which counts the CCLEX as its first toll road project outside Luzon.