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One Visayas to push for tourism, infra growth – Benitez

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By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN

Prominent political honchos in the Visayas have recently formed an alliance that will focus on the economic development in the region.

With the support of the influential Visayan bloc in the House of Representatives, 10 of the 16 provincial governors from Regions 6, 7, and 8 recently formed the “One Visayas” which seeks to represent their scattered localities in order to press the national government for an equitable share of funding and resources to boost the region’s economy.

Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo “Albee” Benitez, conveyor of the Visayan bloc, said politicians from various provinces and legislative districts have crossed party lines and “agreed to have one vision and one voice to promote the progress and development of the Visayas.”

“One Visayas—this will foster some sort of economic cooperation among our neighboring provinces and hopefully create trading partners,” said Benitez.

Benitez, chairman of the House Committee on Housing and Urban Development, noted that while Visayas contributes over 50 percent of the country’s profit from tourism, the three regions get around 21 percent of the budget for tourism infrastructure and development in the past several years.

“We would like to promote tourism—50 percent of all foreign tourist arrivals is in the Visayas Region. Unfortunately, we only get 21 percent of the infrastructure funding coming from the national government. So this is something that we would to rectify,” said Benitez.

The Negros solon said One Visayas is also united in pushing the concept of federalism since the “want to empower regional centers” while waiting for the final shift of government system to federalism.

“We can combine our resources, work together, create economic cooperation among the Visayas Region, which is Regions 6, 7 and 8, and promote its economic development,” said Benitez.

Meanwhile, Benitez stressed that no political alliance has been made yet since the group is currently more on economic cooperation.

“I think this One Visayas is being formed, is devoid of political agenda because I, myself is not running,” said Benitez.