2007 STATE OF THE PROVINCE ADDRESS
ZaNorte Convention & Exhibition Center
Dipolog City, March 19, 2007
HON. ROLANDO “Lando” ENRIQUEZ-YEBES
ZaNorte Provincial Government
Mga pinangga kung katawhan sa ZaNorte, sa ikatulo nga higayon karong adlawa, ako, uban sa akong kauban sa buhat nga naga-representa kanato sa Kongreso, uban sa atong mga membro sa Sangguniang Panlalawigan, mopadangat na usab sa usa ka report on the state of the affairs of the province sa miaging tuig nga milabay kung diin ang sumbanan sa atong pagdumala sa pang-gobyerno probinsyal, mao ang, UNA SA TANAN, ANG KATAWHAN. Ako mapasalamaton ug dako, sa inyong pagduyog kanako sa pagpahigayon sa mga programa, mga projekto ug serbisyo ngadto sa kinabag-ang hut-ong sa atong katawhan. Sa atong tulo ka mga Kongresista, Congresswoman Cely Jalosjos Carreon, Congressman Matoy Barinaga and Congressman Cesar Jalosjos, nga miunong kanako sa pagbalik-balik ngadto sa Malacanang to get full funding for major projects nga critical sa atong paglambo, whose implementation has been stunted for years prior to this administration. Uban sa atong mga abtik nga Kongresista,, nakuha nato ang suporta sa Presidente niining mga proyektoha, diin, uban sa mga dagkong proyekto sa lain-laing probinsya, gibatbat kani niya sa iyang State of the Nation Address niadtong miaging tuig.
First time in the history of the province that the Province of ZaNorte, is recognized and given special mention by the President in her State of the Nation Address or SONA, no less. For the information of those who are not aware of this, allow me to enumerate these funding support from and approved by no less than the President, Her Excellency Gloria Macapagal Arroyo:
♦ P 1.326 Billion para sa pagkomponi sa dalan gikan sa Sibuco ngadto sa Sirawai-Baliguian hangtod sa Lungsod sa Gutalac o ang gitawag nga Zamboanga West Coast Road, nga may kalay-on nga 117.13 kilometers. This is on its way to effective implementation starting this year. The national government has jumpstarted it with a huge investment of P 221.0 Million this year, intended for civil works and detailed engineering. Reports from the MEDCO show that, civil works for the Sibuco-Sirawai and Sirawai-Sibuco road sections, are scheduled for bidding this month, while detailed engineering is on-going as I speak, for the Siocon-Baliguian road section, and survey works for the Baliguian-Gutalac road section. This will be my legacy to the people of the Triple S-B, and Gutalac municipalities, jointly with Congressman Cesar Jalosjos, and Mayors Edding, Carino, Soriano, Esmali, and Candelaria.
♦ Next , is the amount of P 731.0 Million for the improvement of the Dipolog airport, nga sa sulod sa duha nga higayon, was dropped from the list of priority projects for funding by the JICA and Asian Development Bank or the ADB. The improvement and upgrading of the Dipolog airport is very important and strategic to our province. It serves not only us ZaNorteans, but the people as well of the Provinces of Misamis Occidental, Zamboanga del Sur and Zamboanga Sibugay. Implementation status to date, indicates an initial release of P 115.0 Million for the widening of the runway and asphalt overlay, and shoreline protection.
♦ Third, is the funds amounting to P 210.0 Million for the widening of the 10.8-kilometer Dapitan City-Dakak Road; critical usab kanato, because of the Dakak Park and Beach Resort nga mao ang nagaunang attraction sa turismo, sa atong probinsya. For this project, an initial funding of P 106.50 Million was released for civil works, which will commence next month, and for detailed engineering.
♦ Ika-upat, mao ang paghatag ni Presidente ug P 15.0 Million for the Sicayab-Bucana-Port o Pulauan Road, to open up an alternate road going to the province’s major port, the Pulauan Port in Dapitan City.
The President, in one of the Cabinet meetings I was invited to attend in Malacanang, has committed to spare provinces in the list of the bottom ten poorest provinces sa tuig 2003, akong usbon, sa TUIG 2003, from providing counterpart funds to projects spearheaded by the national government, sama sa nahiunang upat nga mga proyekto. Added to this remarkable financial blessings from the national government, is another P 50.0 Million for the construction and/or improvement of twelve farm-to-market roads nga anaa sa mga hilit nga mga barangays sa atong mga kalungsuran.
I am pleased to report, that, two weeks ago, the Office of the Provincial Treasurer, already received the check for the initial release of P 14.250 Million from the Department of Budget and Management to start mobilization works for these twelve Farm-to-Market Road projects in the Municipalities of Katipunan, Roxas, Jose Dalman, Sindangan, Siayan, Godod, Liloy. Sirawai and Sibuco. The inclusion of the Municipality of Roxas, nag-paila lamang mga wala kita magatan-aw sa bolok sa politika sa atong pamunuan dinhi sa atong probinsya. The important thing is, we are able to equitably extend assistance and support to all the people of this province, regardless of economic standing in the community and political affiliation, ubos sa atong prinsipyo sa pang-gobyerno, UNA SA TANAN, ANG KATAWHAN.
Kani tipik lamang sa kinatibuk-ang P 1.032 Billion worth of farm-to-market road projects nga akong gihangyo sa Presidente niadtong usa ka meeting nga gipahigayon didto sa Presidential Management Staff Office sa Malacanang compound. Uban sa atong mga technical people, I presented the barangay road network connecting production areas and market centers in remote barangays. Diha-diha, DA Undersecretary Paras, committed in principle to provide the funds, and further gave the go signal for the initial release of P 50.0 Million. If we, at the provincial helm, have been delivering basic services and projects to the people of our 2 cities, 25 municipalities and 691 barangays, amounting to millions of pesos, the national government, in turn is responding this with billions of pesos in projects.
Indeed, Zanorte is blessed, and this gives us more reason to double our work and serve the people with compassion, justice and equity to deserve these blessings.
PARTNERSHIP WITH THE SANGGUNIANG PANLALAWIGAN
I am equally very grateful to the members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, allies or not, under the leadership of Honorable Vice-Governor Bebie Olvis, for their unwavering cooperation and trust in my leadership. Every piece of legislation that gives the Governor authority in providing financial assistance to the Local Government Units, ranging from P 1.0 Million to P 5.0 Million for priority projects; in entering into agreement with national departments, for the implementation of projects such as the P 50.0 Million worth of farm-to-market roads earlier cited, is a concrete and solid manifestation of a strengthened PARTNERSHIP between the Executive and Legislative Branches of the provincial government under the incumbent leadership.
FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE TO THE LGUS
Under this atmosphere of fortified partnership, we are helping Mayors Lim of Salug, Dalman of Jose Dalman, Caballero of Manukan, Macias of Sindangan, Edding of Sibuco, and Feras of Pres. Roxas, realize their dreams for a municipal gymnasium and/or cultural and sports center, intended for community affairs;
Mayors Sulit of La Libertad, and Magsalay of Sergio Osmena for the implementation of projects that are supportive of agricultural and livestock development, namely the production of high value crops, and the development of an agro-economic center, respectively.
Mayor Tenorio of Mutia for livelihood development and road opening;
Mayor Olvis of Polanco for the construction of a 2-storey multi-purpose building, implemented by phase, and a farmer’s training center;
Mayors Soriano of Siocon and Uy of Dipolog City for tourism-related initiatives, namely, the lighting system of the Siocon’s Municipal Plaza rotunda and purchase of one unit of brand new Toyota Hi-Ace van for the Dipolog City Tourism Office.
Mayors Siasico of Siayan, Uy of Liloy, Carino of Sirawai, and Balais of Labason for the improvement of their respective public markets; and
Mayors Jalosjos of Dapitan City, Sabandal of Pinan, Manigsaka of Rizal, Tablezo of Leon Postigo, and Te of Godod, for the improvement of city/municipal and barangay roads to serve as catalysts in enhancing access to agriculture sources and potential local tourist spots
FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE TO THE BARANGAYS
On the other hand, under our assistance to the barangays, dili lang kita nakatabang kanila sa pagpahigayon ug mga inprastruktura sama sa dalan, water supply, suga, sama sa atong gihimo sa pinakahilit nga barangay, ang Barangay Panampalay, kung diin, karon dili lang duna na sila’y dalan, duna pay sugang dagitabnon nga atong gihatag kanila. Nagatabang usab kita sa pag-acquire sa lunat nga maoy nahimutangan sa ilang barangay school building, barangay hall, day care center, multi-purpose hall, ug uban pa, sama sa atong gihimo para sa Barangay Bambanan sa Pres. Roxas, Barangay Alvenda sa Mutia, ug Barangay Goleo sa Sindangan. Ang pag-angkon sa barangay sa luna para sa ilang mga pang-gobyernong edificio mahinungdanon, kay mao man kini and magsilbing barangay center sa katawhan.
Sama ra kini sa atong paglimpyo sa mga titulo sa mga yuta where facilities of the provincial government, like the convention and exhibition center where we are now, and the swimming pool, are situated, including the oval at the national high school grounds. What we started to do, we completed, following legal procedures, and government accounting and auditing rules and regulations; and every centavo of the people’s taxes well accounted for.
Other than our support for infrastructure projects, we have provided twenty five municipalities and twenty barangays with salter weighing scales, an important tool in the implementation of programs that address the concern on malnutrition in their respective areas of reponsibility. To sum it all, this financial assistance to our LGUs and barangays, one of the many firsts for Zamboanga del Norte, gives them a wider latitude of liberty in the identification of priority projects that would concretize their respective development plans and advocacies into specific actions for the welfare of their constituencies. Such financial assistance, manifests, as well, the provincial leadership’s confidence on the Local Chief Executives’ and barangay officials’ capability to implement projects. Indeed, they are our co-pilots at the sub-provincial level in charting the development road map of the province.
STATE OF THE PROVINCE’S FINANCIAL CONDITION
This brings me to the STATE OF THE PROVINCE’S FINANCIAL CONDITION in the last two years and eight months of this Administration. There is no truth to the claim of our critics, that this Administration has emptied the coffers of the province for non-essential activities and services. Rather, records of our depository banks evidently show that we have sustained the sound cash position of the provincial treasury. Undisputed is the fact that as of December 31, 2006, we have total of P 710.0 Million, as and by way of cash deposits in reputable banks.
And based on the certificates issued by these banks, the province’s financial condition HAS ALWAYS BEEN IN THE PINK OF HEALTH under my watch. Consider : by the end of December 31, 2006, we have a total cash deposit of P 450,339,291.09 with the Land Bank of the Philippines, Dipolog City Branch;
♦ P 76,133,712.18 with the Land Bank of the Philippines Sindangan Branch;
♦ P 6,000,000.00 with the bank’s Zamboanga City Branch;
♦ P109,734,458.57 with the Philippine National Bank; and
♦ P 68,593,466.45 with the Development Bank of the Philippines;
♦ Over, we have a TOTAL OF P 710,800,928.29 by the end of December 31, 2006.
Complementing the banks’ reports, is the Provincial Accountant’s consolidated financial report for calendar years 2004, 2005 and 2006, which clearly show the following factual truth :
♦ Increasing level of total income :
2004 : P 706.8 Million
2005 : P 810.2 Million
2006 : P 934.0 Million
I would like to make special mention here, that, because of our persistence in getting our rightful share of the national wealth, we recorded an increase of 121.52 percent in the total amount we received from the Department of Budget and Management last year as compared to that in 2005.
♦ Revenues from local sources are improving :
2004 : P 171.0 Million
2005 : P 232.2 Million
2006 : P 231.1 Million
May I report in particular that, the improvement in local revenue generation is partly attributed to : 1) enhanced collection in the real property tax, and; 2) the amnesty program that we adopted in the second year of our term.
By the end of 2006, we recorded an increase of 31.57 percent in real property tax collection as compared to last year’s collection.
I commend the Office of the Provincial Treasurer and the Mayors for this encouraging development.
♦ Continuously yielding income surplus at year’s end :
2004 : P 162.0 Million
2005 : P 168.0 Million
2006 : P 130.0 Million
This, notwithstanding, the numerous projects, services and incentives we have delivered and extended to the vast majority of the people, and to the workers of the provincial government, as well.
For the record, for the period July 2004 - February 2007, we have completed a total of 1,144 infrastructure projects, ranging from roads, bridges, water supply, power, school buildings, day care centers, tribal halls, multi-purpose buildings, and solar driers; including the purchase of computer units, books, chairs and tables for schools and government offices.
This number does not include the more than 500 projects of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan funded thru their Project Identification Fund,
Total investment : A WHOOPING P 368.0 Million.
On-going implementation, as we gather here this afternoon, are 386 projects, amounting to P 507.6 Million, and another 663 projects on the pipe-line with firmed funding commitment, in the tune of P 283.4 Million.
BENEFITS TO GOVERNMENT WORKERS
Provided the benefits our hospital personnel are entitled to under the Magna Carta for health workers, including 75.0 percent of the very elusive hazard pay; We initiated the upgrading of the entrant position for medical doctors in our hospitals, from salary grade 18 to salary grade 20, as a way of motivating our doctors, whose numbers in the past six years are fast dwindling, to stay and help us serve our people. Just early this month, we have received sufficient number of application from doctor applicants for our new provincial hospital. We granted all our officials and personnel productivity pay, and additional year-end benefits; incentives which they dearly deserve, for what can we, leaders of the province, do without the contribution of each employee working by our side.
We likewise increased monetary incentives to our partners in the implementation of our nutrition and social welfare development programs at the Local Government Units and barangays, namely, the Municipal Nutrition Action Officers, Barangay Nutrition Scholars, and Barangay Day Care Workers.
♦ From P 150.00 / month in year 2004 to P 500.00 this year for the Municipal Nutrition Action Officers;
♦ From P 80.00 / month in year 2004 to P 300.00 this year for the Barangay Nutrition Scholars.
And as support to the Department of Education, we increased the number of secondary school teachers whom we hired and funded thru local funds, from 185 in school year 2005-2006, to 195 current school year 2006-2007.
THE HUDYAKA FESTIVAL : VEHICLE FOR TOURISM PROMOTION AND CULTURAL DEVELOPMENT
We introduced the holding of the Hudyaka Festival, the first ever festival for Zamboanga del Norte, and provided it full funding support, to fire up the dying tourism industry in the province. It’s one festival that showcases the sights, sounds, products and distinct cultures of peoples that live in almost perfect harmony in the province’s twenty-seven Local Government Units.
In the last two years, the festival’s tangible imprints may be quantified by the operation of the Cebu Pacific Airline direct flights between Manila and Dipolog, and vice-versa, three times a week ; the entry of Negros Navigation plying the Dapitan-Manila sea lanes via the Port of Iloilo, every Tuesday.; and the arrival of the dedicated Dumaguete – Dipolog roll-on-roll-off service of the Montenegro shipping lines, opening better access to markets in the Visayas for our agricultural products.
The entry of Cebu Pacific has undoubtedly presented a healthy competition with Philippine Airlines that led to the adoption of promotional air fare programs beneficial to travellers. The operation of Negros Navigation, on the hand, presented alternative routes to potential markets outside the province for our products, like Iloilo. In foreign shores, particularly in the United States of America, the Hudyaka Festival has caught the attention of ZaNortean-migrants.
In last year’s celebration, we were pleasantly surprise with the homecoming of a group of balikbayans purposely to grace and join us, and witness for themselves this talked-about Hudyaka celebration. With their support, we are pretty certain, that in the next three years, the province will finally find a secured niche in the tourism map of the country and of the world.
THE POVERTY MAPPING PROGRAM : VEHICLE FOR A COMPREHENSIVE DELIVERY OF GOVERNMENT SERVICES TO THE POOREST AMONG THE POOR
On top of all these initiatives, is the heart, the centrepiece program of this administration, the POVERTY MAPPING PROGRAM, which gave birth to a legitimate comprehensive assistance program known as the Barangay Indigent Beneficiaries Organization or BIBO Program.
Allow me to backtrack a little. On the day I took my oath of office, I committed to address the growing poverty among our people.
I say growing, because the outcome of the Family Income and Expenditures Surveys conducted in 1997, 2000 and 2003 by the National Statistics Office said so; because, the data and figures incorporated in the report of the National Statistical Coordinating Board, collated from the surveys conducted, vividly showed the telling signs of an increasing poverty incidence in the province.
In 1997, our poverty incidence was reported at 42.4 percent;
In 2000, at 47.0 percent, ug sa tuig 2003, misaka kini sa 64.6 percent, posting an increase of 17.5 percent, the largest increase in poverty incidence among the country’s 77 province; thereby making us the poorest among the poor provinces in the country in 2003.
This was very lamentable in the light of the COA report on the total cash in bank of provinces, that showed Zamboanga del Norte with the second highest balance of cash in bank in the amount of P 785.3 Million. The Province of Cebu, was first, with a total cash in bank of P 899.0 Million.
That could have translated into numerous programs and projects para sa katawhan; more school buildings, roads, livelihood projects, power and water supply, agricultural support to farmers and fishermen, scholarship programs to deserving students, among other interventions; that could have made a meaningful change in the plight of the less privileged among our people
Losing no time, we immediately launched the Poverty Mapping Program, inubanan sa paghimugso sa Barangay Indigent Beneficiaries Organization or BIBO and Provincial Health Care Assistance Program, the first ever that is initiated in the province, with no subsidy nor funding support from any of the national government agencies.
Why poverty mapping? For one reason:
The province, just like the rest of the Local Government Units, has many wants to accomplish for the people, but with little funds at our disposal, we can only do so little . Mao nga gisunod nato ang giingon nga CAREFUL PRIORITIZATION IN FUNDS ALLOCATION;
We have to know, kinsa man kining anaa sa kalisod; ngano sila naglisod; asa sila, ug unsa man ang ilang gikinahanglan. Through this process, we put faces on the real beneficiaries sa atong mga serbisyo ug programa. This way, we allocate our money where it is most needed, and second, and this is very important, we spare the beneficiaries from the traditional bureaucratic hassles in accessing government services.
To date, I am pleased to report, nga aduna na kitay 287 LANDO-BIBO chapters comprising of a total of 103,607 household members who have already enjoyed the benefits and services under the program. Kani nagalangkob sa libreng pagpatambal sa atong mga hospitals hangtod nga sila mahibalok sa maayong panglawas.
This program is very fortunate, because prior to its official launching, if you recall, Honorable Board Member Uldarico Mejorada authored Provincial Ordinance No. 04-67, known as : FREE MEDICINES FOR THE POOR ORDINANCE. The said ordinance carried with it the stamp of approval and support of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan to this program. To give more meaning to the said ordinance, BIBO members are issued cards under the Provincial Health Care Assistance Program that give them easy access to free hospitalization and medicines in all provincial government hospitals. Our records show, that by the end of 2006, we have provided free hospital services to 12,088 BIBO beneficiaries; and free medicines to 10,072 beneficiaries.
BOTIKA SA KATAWHAN SA ZANORTE
Complementing this initiative is the President’s program on the Botika ng Bayan, which is aimed at making accessible, available and affordable to the vast majority of our people quality medicines and drugs at lower cost. And so, in partnership with the Philippine International Trading Corporation, we established our own Botika sa Katawhan sa ZaNorte, which started to open to the public early this year.
TULONG NI LANDO SA COMUNIDAD (TLC) PROGRAM
Today, the delivery of government services that are mandated under Section 17 of the 1991 Local Government Code, is in full swing under the Tulong ni Lando sa Communidad or TLC outreach missions, through the composite teams of the :
- Provincial Health Office, headed by our Doctor-Lawyer, Carmencita P. Icao;
- Community Development Assistance Unit or CDAU headed by Mr. Ronilo Pacilan;
- Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office of Mrs. Grace Marylen Sabal;
- Pro-Vet under Mr. Vicente Sanches, Jr.;
- Office of the Provincial Agriculturist under the combined leadership of Atty. Bernardo Concha, Mr. Noli Bengua and Ms. Maybel Bustaliňo;
- Provincial Nutrition Unit of Ms. Maria Leila Realiza;
- Provincial Engineering of Engr. Ramon Ochotorena;
- Provincial Environment and Development Office headed by Atty. Jes Gal Sarmiento, Jr., with Mr. Dodong Damuag as the Action Officer; and the
- Technology and Livelihood Center and Coopertaive Development Office headed by Mr. James Montejar and Mr Climaco Villanueva, respectively.
Equal recognition is also in order for the Chiefs / Officer-In-Charge of our government hospitals, from Sibutad to Sibuco, who gave their full support to the implementation of LANDO-BIBO Program
May I request these officials and their respective personnel, to kindly stand. Please stand.
You know, Ladies and Gentlemen, our implementers are constantly leaving the comforts of their air conditioned offices to reach, serve and lead the delivery of services to the less fortunate communities in our barangays, including remote barangays, some of which can be only be reached by foot on onset of rain, as exemplified by Barangay Titik in Sindangan and Leon Postigo; Barangay Femagas in Katipunan, and Barangay Pamanpalay in Pres. Roxas. Within the period July 2004-December 2006, the TLC Program has served the communities in 529 barangays in 25 municipalities. Last year alone, the program covered 190 barangays, inclusive of 33 clustered barangays. Their dedication to this cause is commendable. A rousing applause please for our co-workers.
- Services delivered right at the doorstep of the barangay communities, include, among others:
- Medical consultation / check-up, which benefited 33,370 clients in 2006 alone;
- Circumcision, benefited 2,260 young boys;
- Dental services, benefited 5,410 clients;
- Provision of free medicines and drugs to 10,072 clients;
- Provision of ambulatory and other assistive devices, such as wheel chairs, crutches, walkers and canes
- Milk feeding to pre-school and school age children
- Supplemental feeding
- Distribution of seedlings and fingerlings to farmers;
- Veterinary services like immunization, artificial insemination, and deworming of swine and livestock
- Dispersal of livestock and ruminants
- Livelihood assistance
- Dissemination on livelihood technologies applicable to the area visited
On livelihood assistance, we are currently assisting barangay level livelihood activities enhance the quality and marketability of their products, among which are the following:
- Production of Pinakurat vinegar, kinilaw sauce and bahalina coco wine of the LANDO-BIBO Owaon Chapter;
- Production of Nito glass tray basket of the SAWDARA Highlander Multi-Purpose Cooperative;
- Production of Pangase native wine of the LANDO-BIBO Siayan Pangase Processors Association;
- Production of candle holder wood craft of the Galukso Wood Craft, Inc.
- Production of charcoal briquette of the LANDO-BIBO Salisig Chapter
THE NEW PROVINCIAL HOSPITAL
On a higher plane of hospital services, we embarked on the construction of a new 200-bed tertiary level provincial hospital. These days, the people demand of their public servants the ability to show that they can use political power to deliver unconventional results. Public servants must walk an extra mile. In government, that translates into the delivery of public services with effective, economical and innovative manner. Our new Provincial Hospital illustrates such service.
Criticized by a few as a grandeur undertaking, which they predicted never to see the light of its fruition, the progress of the construction works as flashed on the screen in front of you, speaks otherwise. The pictures flashed before you paints to all of us a thousand words that prove them all wrong. This soon to be completed edifice will serve ZaNorteans with more improved and quality hospital services in four major services, namely, medical. Surgery, pediatrics, and obstetrics-gynecology, right here at home.
The accessibility of upgraded facilities that will answer to more specialized health care needs, will bring the cost of hospitalization down, because we will be spared from incurring additional costs for travel and accommodation when seeking medical attention in tertiary hospitals outside the province. I am getting ready for the soft opening of the hospital comes May this year. Contrary to allegations of our critics, there are sufficient equipment and facilities, and manpower for the operation of the new hospital.
I am very pleased to report that we have encouraged the spirit of volunteerism in our midst. Our people are generous of their time, resources. Thus, we are receiving support from our provincemates residing and/or working in the United States of America in equipping the new hospital. Since last year, donations for equipment are pouring in initiated thru the efforts of the Zamboanga del Norte Associations in California and Illinois, and the Renewed Life in Jesus Christ based in Vermont, USA.
For the record, the Renewed Life in Jesus Christ has given us about P 5.0 Million worth of both brand new and slightly used hospital equipment, like incubators, and supplies, good enough to sustain a one year operation. Seventy electronic hospital beds are about to shipped to us, in addition to the thirty plus beds we already received.
The Zamboanga del Norte Associations of California and Illinois, on their part, have given us seven units of dialysis machine; and recently, twenty-one boxes of books and medical supplies from the Zamboanga del Norte Association of Illinois.
On the home front, businessmen, professionals, and other sectors of our community are coming together to help improve the living condition of our province.
ON ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AND REHABILITATION
Time and again, I say, that our Administration, STRONGLY ADVOCATES FOR RESPONSIBLE MINING, with special bias towards SOCIAL RESPONSIBILTY to affected communities. Much as we, Local Government Units, would want to have a hand in the issuance of permits to large scale mining operations, this responsibility is entirely with the national government.
We are advocating for our direct equitable share in the proceeds, derived from the utilization and development of the natural wealth within our territorial area, including, sharing the same with the inhabitants by way of direct benefits. As the steward of the bounties of nature, we have committed ourselves to preserve the remaining 34,000 hectares forest cover in the Zamboanga Peninsula Region, found only in our province, specifically in the Triple S-B municipalities.
In consonance to this commitment, we created, in the early part of our Administration, Task Force Kalasangan, in partnership with the private sector, non-government organizations, religious leaders, local government units, and the representatives of the three congressional districts of the province. The one significant accomplishment of the Task Force, is the continued imposition of the total log ban in the province, even after the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, lifted the ban in other parts of the country.
THE HI-GREEN PROGRAM
In our efforts to rehabilitate the environment, we adopted, as our banner program in agriculture, the INTEGRATED HILLYLANDS GREEN REHABILITATION AND LIVELIHOOD PROGRAM or the HI-GREEN Program, purposely to rehabilitate degraded hilly lands with potentials for crop production, with the underlying objectives to introduce beneficiaries of the program, to alternative livelihood activities, at the same time, ensure food security at the barangay level.
The latter objective is achieved thru the establishment of integrated communal farming that includes nursery development, livestock and poultry development and inland fish farm development. At the onset of the program, 192 barangays in 18 municipalities, involving a total of 6,967 farmer-cooperators, expressed interest to participate in the program. And by the end of December 2006, nine of the participating barangays have fully established their community initiative integrated farm facility, and forty-eight barangays have established nurseries with a total of 404,425 assorted planting materials produced.
Five communal farms are now established in Bgry. Canibongan, Roxas; Brgy. Polandoc, Leon Postigo; Bgrys. Poblacion and Diongan, Siayan; and Brgy. Malila in Liloy. Each communal farms was provided with 45 upgraded poultry breeders, one (1) buck and two (2) sheep breeders, and inland fish farms with a total of 18,000 fingerlings.
In support to inland fish farm development, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, mipadangat kanato ug tabang financial in the amount of P 2.8 Million for the establishment of the BFAR-ZaNorte Multi-species Fresh Water Fish Hatchery.
The project is aimed at intensifying the production of hito, tilapia and fresh water giant shrimps or ulang fry.
ON PEACE AND ORDER, AND SECURITY
I believe that development and security are intimately intertwined with each other. The absence of one, makes the attainment of the other difficult. Mag-unsa man ang kalambuan kung wala’y kalinaw sa palibot. As one of the means toward this end, we have been providing financial assistance to the PNP Provincial Command to help in the fight of criminality and lawlessness in the entire province, and strengthen their intelligence works. The Peace and Order Council is being strengthened, as well, as an avenue in addressing the security problems throughout the province.
In the same vein, support is likewise extended to the on-going peace process between the government and the NPA and rebel groups initiated by the national government. But the ultimate initiative undertaken by this Administration to achieve genuine peace and order, is the implementation of development programs and projects under the principles of equity and fairness.
PLANS FOR THE NEXT THREE YEARS AND ONWARDS
My 8-Point Development Agenda will continue to serve as guide post in pursuing more development for the people.
Social and health care services will still lead the way in the delivery of services;
We will work for the institutionalization of the LANDO-BIBO Program, to ensure its continuity even after the term of this Administration shall have ended.
The 386 on-going projects and those 663 projects on the pipe line will be completed and implemented, respectively;
School-less, powerless and waterless barangays will have their fair share of these facilities and utilities;
The construction of a 10,000-seating capacity multi-purpose cultural and sports center at the same site where the old one once stood, is on the drawing board;
Financial assistance to the barangays will now shift to the provision of livelihood development assistance in the tune of P 150,000.00 per barangay.
Our pre-harvest support will continue with the acquisition of additional farm tractors to be made readily available to our marginalized farmers under the Plow-Now-Pay-Later Scheme.
Akong paningkamutan nga motaas ang kita sa atong mga mang-uuma pra makab-ot nila ang nangunang panginahanglan sa pamilya, sama sa pagkaon, sapot, edukasyon ug uban pa.
Marketing of our agricultural products will be given special attention with a scheme that calls for the assignment of our people in big market centers to continuously monitor the prices in the markets and immediate feedbacking to the farmers and producers. This scheme is being fine tuned with the provincial offices concerned.
For investment in business, agriculture and tourism to flourish, the provincial government, together with Mayor Jun Jalosjos of Dapitan City and Congresswoman Cely Jalosjos Carreon, will doubly work for the improvement of our roll-on-roll-off facilities at the Pulauan Port to accommodate and cater to more and bigger passenger and commercial boats.
Along this line, we will continue to lobby with the President for the conversion of Pulauan Port Terminal into a Port Management Office, so that, it shall have more funding and more leeway to chart the course of its development and improvement of facilities to entice the operation of more shipping companies, and for comfort and convenience of the commuting public.
Satellite ports will be attended to equally spread the development, brought about by increased sea traffic, like the port in the municipality of Mayor Eguia in anticipation of the opening of the Katipunan - Siaton, in Negros Oriental sea route, and vice-versa.
In the same manner, we will encourage the building up of telecommunications infrastructures in the province and open opportunities for internet phone calls. This is very important if we want to facilitate our participation in the global economy, specially in the areas of agriculture and tourism where our strength principally lies.
The new Zamboanga del Norte Provincial Hospital operating as expected, and extending the hospital care services, it is envisioned to provide.
Development of our cultural heritage will be given equal impetus to preserve our identity as a people, with a colourful heritage, distinct customs, traditions, practices, beliefs, dances and songs. We should never allow losing our identity nor be ashamed of our roots. Rather, we should protect our culture, our Lumads, from those who wish to take advantage of them; of us; of our weaknesses.
Government operations will be more transparent and accountability of public officials and employees will be bolstered with the full operation of the electronic-national government accounting system or e-NGAS, the electronic-real property tax system or e-RPTS and the electronic-human resource management information system or e-HRMIS.
Installation of these three systems is done in close collaboration with the National Computer Center and the Commission on Audit. To some significant extent, this partnership with national offices has saved the provincial government from the prohibitive cost of pursuing electronic-governance, simply called, e-governance.
And a lot more, that by the time the next Family Income and expenditures Survey will be conducted, I am hopeful that the Province of Zamboanga del Norte shall have extricated itself from the list of the poorest provinces in the country; if not, cut into half our poverty incidence in the next 3 years.
UNA SA TANAN, ANG KATAWHAN will continue to be our guiding principle in the delivery of government services, programs and projects, in serving the people with compassion, justice and equity.
DAGHANG SALAMAT UG MAAYONG HAPON.
ABANTE PA, ZANORTE !