Aquino attends toll road event in Quezon after collapse rumors

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President Benigno S. Aquino III leads the raising of the Philippine Flag during the inauguration of the Museo ni Emilio Aguinaldo at the Emilio Aguinaldo Shrine in Kawit, Cavite on Friday (March 20). The museum chronicles the life and times of Aguinaldo, especially during the revolution against Spain and war against the United States. Also in photo are National Historical Commission of the Philippines chairperson Dr. Maria Serena Diokno and Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Abaya. (MNS photo)

President Benigno S. Aquino III leads the raising of the Philippine Flag during the inauguration of the Museo ni Emilio Aguinaldo at the Emilio Aguinaldo Shrine in Kawit, Cavite on Friday (March 20). The museum chronicles the life and times of Aguinaldo, especially during the revolution against Spain and war against the United States. Also in photo are National Historical Commission of the Philippines chairperson Dr. Maria Serena Diokno and Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Abaya. (MNS photo)

TIAONG, Quezon (mabuhay) – President Benigno Aquino III on Monday attended his first public event, two days after Malacañang denied a rumor that he had collapsed.

Aquino attended the briefing on the P13.8-billion South Luzon Expressway (SLEx) Toll Road 4 (TR4) project and other road projects in Southern Luzon at Barangay Lalig, Tiaong, Quezon.

Malacañang on Saturday dismissed the rumor that Aquino lost consciousness on Friday evening.

With the President at the briefing were Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, Quezon Representative Vicente Alcala, Tiaong Mayor Ramon Preza, Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) Executive Director Edmund Reyes, San Miguel Corporation (SMC) chief operating officer and South Luzon Tollway chair Ramon Ang, and Citra Metro Manila Tollways Corporation (Citra) president and chief executive officer Shadik Wahono.

SMC is undertaking the new 58-kilometer section that would link  Sto. Tomas, Batangas, all the way to Lucena, Quezon by 2019. San Miguel and Indonesia’s Citra currently operate SLEx

The four-lane toll road project is supposed to cut the travel time between the two provinces from four hours to just one.

The government hopes the shortened travel time will help boost commerce and tourism in Regions IV and V.

SLEx-TR4 is the latest project in SMC’s infrastructure portfolio, which already includes the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway, the at-grade and elevated Skyway system and the Skyway Stage 3 project, the NAIA Expressway project, the existing SLEx, and the recently upgraded and expanded Southern Tagalog Arterial Road or STAR Tollway

The first section of the project will be from Sto. Tomas to Macban, Laguna (10.51 kilometers), the second from Macban to San Pablo, Laguna (12.2 km), the third from San Pablo to Tiaong (8.1 km), the fourth from Tiaong to Candelaria, Quezon (14.4 km) and the fifth from Candelaria to Lucena (12.31 km).

Target completion date for the first section is in 2017. The whole project should be completed by 2019.

“We look at infrastructure as an opportunity to participate in the growth of our country. Quality infrastructure will change and impact lives,” Ang said in a statement.

SMC said it planned to start construction “in less than a year.”

The public appearance of Aquino followed the rumor that came from a TV reporter’s tweet that claimed that the President had collapsed.

Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda immediately addressed the issue by quoting Aquino who said that “no such thing” happened.

Later that day, the President called for a meeting with Palace reporters but the informal gathering was cancelled about twenty minutes after it was announced.

The rumor was eventually quelled when Aquino was spotted by some reporters in Quezon City, having dinner with friends.

He said he was just as surprised when he received Lacierda’s text about the rumor. (MNS)

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