The expanded and improved Port of Salomague in the Municipality of Cabugao is the “key” to unlock Ilocos Sur’s growth in the areas of tourism, trade, and economic development, said Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Art Tugade.
Secretary Tugade made the statement after leading the port’s formal inauguration today, 08 July 2021, in fulfilment of the government’s vow to finish the port’s development projects.
Among the port’s improved facilities which were completed in April 2021 by the DOTr and Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) are the construction of the reinforced concrete (RC) Platform Back-up Area and the RC Pier Extension from 120 meters to 543 meters. Prior to its improvement and expansion, the Salomague Port was in an unkempt and poorly maintained state.
Sec. Tugade said the Municipality of Cabugao and the whole of Ilocos Sur and the nearby Province of Ilocos Norte will finally reap the benefits of the expanded and improved seaport, which can now accommodate cruise ships and more fishing vessels.
He added that the improved Port of Salomague will help the Ilocos Region reap employment and other economic benefits from tourism once the country eases into the “new normal” and travel restrictions are relaxed.
“Promise ‘ho, pagtapos ng pandemya at dumating ‘yung mga turista, dapat handa ‘ho tayo. Pagkat ‘yung pagdating din ng benepisyo sa turismo ay nandiyan din kaya dapat handang-handa na tayo,” said Tugade.
Strategically located near the historical sites and beaches of Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur, the Salomague Port is eyed to be one of the country’s ports of call for cruise ships and is expected to increase cruise calls to the country with its proximity to the ports of Hong Kong and South China.
Moreover, at least 71 local residents were given jobs during the construction phase of the project even as local job generation is expected to boom once the port starts its operations.
Sec. Tugade credited the efforts of PPA General Manager Jay Santiago for the many projects that were accomplished and have benefitted the maritime industry.
"I congratulate PPA General Manager Jay Santiago, who has given me pride as head of DOTr. Many projects have been inaugurated and celebrated through the efforts and industry of Jay Santiago and PPA. I assure you, my dear friend, and in public, I accept and I admit that with your projects and your dedication indeed, you help make me and DOTr look good. We look good because of people like you. We look good because of institutions like PPA,” said Sec. Tugade.
Ilocos Sur local officials, meanwhile, expressed their gratitude to Sec. Tugade and the PPA for opening up opportunities for development with the completion of the Salomague Port.
Representing Ilocos Governor Ryan Luis Singson, 2nd District Ilocos Sur Board Member Mildred Elaydo said, “Today in this historic work of Salomague begins the journey of the Province of Ilocos Sur towards reopening its coastal waters to opportunities in trade, tourism, and stronger economic development supported by no less than the National Government through the Department of Transportation and Philippine Ports Authority.”
Cabugao Municipal Mayor Edgardo Cobangbang, Jr. said, addressing Sec. Tugade: “Maraming maraming salamat po at naitaon po na naidaan sa inyo Sec. Tugade itong Salomague Port Extension Project, kasama po ng buong DOTr, sa akin pong mga kaibigan sa PPA. Maraming, maraming salamat po, DOTr. Mabuhay po, Secretary Art Tugade.”
Ilocos Sur 1st District Representative Deogracias Victor Savellano also told Secretary Tugade: “Matagal na po naming dream ito—ang magfunction ang Salomague Port. Ang sinasabi po natin dito, Secretary Tugade, kami po dito sa Ilocos Sur ay natutuwa sa inyong ginawa—sa ating napagtulungan, ‘yung matagal nang dream. Matagal pong natengga ‘to, pero ngayon po sa administrasyon ni President Duterte, napagtulungan natin. At sa tingin ko pagkatapos ng pandemya, nakahanda na ‘ho tayo para sa mas maluwag pa na pagpunta ng mga cruise ships dito.”