After 23 months, or barely two years, in office as Governor of the Province, I am proud to report to the people of Negros Oriental that we are already able to place the province in the map of achievers in the country, hence, bringing Negros Oriental to new heights.
Although, just like any other area in the country, Negros Oriental also experienced its own ups and downs during my watch.
For example, just recently, we have discovered a new downside as far as the province is concerned.
While for the longest time we have been spared, we are all aware at present that Negros Oriental is now among the new paths of various types of disasters as proven by Tropical Storm Sendong, the 6.9 magnitude earthquake and the recent Typhoon Pablo.
But while we brace for various types of hazards, we are also blessed with numerous recognitions.
We are ranked number four among the ten best implementing provinces in the country by the Department of the Interior and Local Government.
This was followed by another award called the Seal of Good Housekeeping — still coming from the DILG. This award entitled the Provincial Government to some Php 25 Million which we spent for the construction of flood control dikes along the Banica and Okoy rivers.
This award also brought us the opportunity to bag the Gawad Pamana ng Lahi Award – the mother of all awards—by the DILG.
Moreover, Negros Oriental is the only province in region seven that qualified for the level one of the Seal of Disaster Preparedness or SDP – according to the DILG.
With all of these happening one after the other in such a short period of time, what else can I say except that the Province of Negros Oriental is in the pink of health in as far as its state of affairs is concerned.
But of course, we never failed to take into consideration the huge impacts of the recent disasters that hit us which caused so much devastation on the lives and properties of our people.
In fact, the provincial government still continues its efforts to rebuild the damaged communities using the financial assistance from the national government.
It is worth pointing out that because of the immediate implementation of a portion of the 961 million pesos, we were able to minimize the impact of the onslaught of Typhoon Pablo most particularly in some portions of the Okoy Riiver, which overflowed during the Tropical Storm Sendong, and in the process we were able to save lives.
It has always been the practice of my administration to focus on the positive to rise up from the bad in order for us to maintain our positive vibes because there are still a lot of things to do in order for us to achieve our ultimate goal of total peace and development in the province.
On this very positive note, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you, the ever reliable members of the media in the province, for you have always played a very crucial and important role in our efforts to save people who are at risk during emergency situations.
This was proven during the onslaught of Typhoon Pablo, more particularly in the preparation stage, by always including in your radio programs warnings and understandable advisories about the coming typhoon.
That alone already saved a lot of lives.
Of course, I would also like to extend my thanks to all the local government units for their pro-active stance to bring the lives of their constituents to safety.
To the members of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council or PDRRMC who earnestly joined hands in order to lay down measures to minimize the impact of the various disasters that hit the province.
And finally, I would like to give my appreciation to all the people in the province themselves for their cooperation.
I mentioned all of these things because, admittedly, aside from all other social concerns faced by the provincial government, it is the various disasters that really put a lot of challenges not only on the provincial government but on all of us.
It is said that poverty is among the worst enemies of the people in modern times.
Climate change causes various forms of hazards that pose a lot of dangers because we do not know when they are coming.
What is certain is the fact that they are coming especially so because ours is a country that sits on the ring of fire.
But while we put a lot of emphasis on disaster management, we also continue to take care of our other programs.
One of the greatest achievements of Negros Oriental this year is that the opportunity to host the Palarong Pambansa next year has been finally granted the province.
After a couple of tries, we finally bagged the hosting rights thereby giving our people the chance to personally watch the games.
We are now in the process of putting all the preparations in place because I do not want the Palarong Pambansa to be affected by the upcoming political exercise.
Finally, because of our desire to provide equal opportunities to our people, the Provincial Government will continue to ride on our program of government dubbed as the Sa Probinsiya–MagDEGAMO Ta! with H-E-L-P or HELP as its centerpiece.
HELP stands for Health– Education– Livelihood Programs and Projects– for peace and development.
In brief, the MagDEGAMO Ta! Program is a vehicle which calls for unity and for action in order to bring all the government services closer and more accessible to the people for the purpose of achieving total peace and development in Negros Oriental.
The MagDEGAMO Ta! Program is also aimed to strengthen food security and to provide livelihood opportunities for the people of the entire Province for them to live healthily, peacefully and happily.
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We have continued our efforts to improve our various hospital facilities which include the community primary hospitals, the district hospitals and our provincial hospital.
This is aimed to achieve our goal of zero maternal and child mortality rate in the Province. This is one of the major concerns of the millennium development goals or the MDG’s.
We have reduced the child and maternal death rates for the last three years (2010—28; 2011—23; 2012—15 cases of maternal deaths).
We also have a decrease in the malnutrition rate in the past year (2009—11.3%; 2010—8.4; 2011—8.1%; 2012—7.3%).
- We have completed the upgrading of our 6 Community Primary Hospitals (CPH) particularly in the establishment of Basic Emergency Maternal and Obstetrical Newborn Care or BEMONC.
- We have not only completed but more so formally opened the 7th Community Primary Hospital or CPH located in Barangay Dawis, Bayawan City. For the first three months of operation, it already served more than two thousand clients, 30 cases of which were birth giving.
- We have also started the upgrading of both Bayawan District Hospital for 12.1 million pesos and Guihulngan District Hospital for 24.3 million pesos all assisted by the DOH. This is for the establishment of a Comprehensive Emergency Obstetric and Neonatal Care (CEMONC). These are expected to be finished anytime soon.
- We are now staring at the near completion of the new Out-Patient Department (OPD) of the NOPH which got a funding assistance from the DOH amounting to 80 million pesos.
- We have continued the construction of the NOPH 4-storey central block. We are finalizing all the technical and legal requirements for our plan to secure a loan from banks to bankroll the construction of said facility.
- Through the Surgical Mobile Team, we were able to extend free surgical and medical missions to a total of more than one thousand residents in three rounds of said mission. This is a separate and a different activity from the usual medical mission.
- We have continued the school building program for the purpose of providing additional classrooms for our schools. Under my watch, 52 new classrooms were completed using solely provincial government funds.
- We have continued the scholarship programs started by my predecessors. Under my administration, however, we have expanded the coverage of the program. From the usual valedictorians and salutatorians, we also include poor but deserving students. This refers to those who have high marks or grades but are not salutatorians and valedictorians. We have more than 800 scholars at present enrolled in the various NORSU campuses. Of course, we have maintained the scholarship program for the school of medicine and allied health courses.
- We have added the number of Educators-Co-Mentors to fill in the vacuum caused by the lack of teachers from about 400 teacher aides last year to 543 this year.
- One of the biggest accomplishments of Negros Oriental this year is the opportunity to host the Palarong Pambansa in April of 2013. We are now setting aside some 15 million pesos for this rare opportunity for the people of Negros Oriental.
- Livelihood Programs
We continue to ride on our tourism potential as one of the main avenues in creating job and livelihood opportunities for our people.
- Our efforts to develop various tourism sites have been disrupted by Tropical Storm Sendong which brought massive damage to some of these tourism sites. This includes the Baslay Hot Springs, Forest Camp, Casaroro Falls and Tejeros. This incident, however, did not discourage us from continuing our efforts to tap our tourism potentials as among the main avenues to create livelihood and employment opportunities.
- The biggest chunk of the budget for tourism site development is for the on-going development of the Tanjay City Mangrove Forest amounting to 7 million pesos.
- We have put in an additional two million pesos to the Coopreneurship Surety Fund (CSF) as additional counterpart to the program. This is intended for our small cooperatives to secure loan from banks.
- We have also set aside funds for cooperative development in the entire province especially for BHW’s, BNS and BPDO’s.
- We have set aside 500 thousand pesos for the production of native animals such as: chickens, goats, pigs and cows.
- We were able to disperse some 936 thousand fingerlings of tilapia to farmers adopting the upland fishery project
- Through the Public Employment Service Office or PESO, we were able to assist Negrenses to land jobs both locally and internationally.
As of latest count, we already sent about 1,500 for local job opportunities and 500 for international job opportunities.
- Project Component
- We have ventured into more support to farm implements in order to encourage farmers to increase production of corn and palay by acquiring two hand tractors. This is to reduce farmer’s cost of production and to increase their income.
- We have increased the production of palay by 5.59 percent and corn by 5.49 percent
- We have completed the construction of three more units of Barangay Agricultural Development Centers or BADC’s and another 21 units are still under construction.
- We still continue to adopt the additional component to our organic fertilizer production through rapid composting. This is in addition to the usual vermi composting.
- We have tapped various technologies in our agriculture sector in order to increase farm production especially on rice through the use of the Systems of Rice Intensification or SRI. The first demo farm in Zamboanguita produced the desired results of more than a hundred percent increase in rice production.
- To strengthen all efforts towards increase production and compliance to pure organic farming method, I created the Negros Oriental Organic Agriculture Management Council (NOOAMC).
- We have allocated 500 thousand pesos for the improvement of the Bagsakan Center inside the Tabo sa PAO compound. This is intended for pure organic products.
- We launched a massive information drive for disaster risk reduction campaign through our Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Council (PDRRMC) and in cooperation with the Office of the Civil Defense (OCD). We funded three more batches of Search and Rescue or SAR training before the year ends.
- We have acquired a total of seven new heavy equipment using our PDRRM fund. This is intended for the pre-disaster activities especially in the construction of flood control dikes and also for our mobile engineering units.
- We have spent some 60 million pesos in our quick response fund for the relief and rehabilitation of affected communities during TS Sendong, the 6.9 earthquake and the Typhoon Pablo.
- We also networked with the Philippine Orthopedic Center through its program giving amputees in the province free artificial legs. Some 101 amputees are scheduled to have their artificial legs by March 2013.
- For the last two years, we utilized our capitol grounds for various cultural and special activities such as the Pasko sa Kapitolyo.
This is a venue for families to bond and have fun for free during the Christmas holidays. This year also se brought some of the activities of the annual Buglsan Festival to the capitol grounds.
- We also formed the Negros Oriental Sports Confederation or NORSPORTS to strengthen our sports development programs.
- Peace Efforts
- Under my watch some 18 members of the New People’s Army surrendered to the authorities thereby strengthening the peace initiative of the province.
- We have collaborated with the Philippine Army and other sectors in the Oplan Bayanihan activities. The contribution of the provincial government to the program was duly recognized recently by the Philippine Army Central Command through an award.
- We have started our desire to establish engineering district throughout the province by acquiring 7 brand new heavy equipment. Four more equipment will be added next year. This is also intended for the Disaster Preparedness and peace and order related concerns.
- We have completed the construction of four classrooms in Linantuyan highschool
My dear friends, these are just among the few programs and projects that we have started, accomplished and those that need to be continued.
Rest assured that we will continue to double, triple our efforts in order to implement programs and projects that are essential to attaining total peace and development in Negros Oriental.
With all these as my focal points in running this province– and through the help of the various sectors– most especially the private sector– I must say that the Provincial Government is not letting its guard down in order to achieve our vision of total peace and development in Negros Oriental.
All I want is for our people to live healthily, peacefully and happily.
Thank you very much. God bless. Sa Probinsiya-MagDEGAMO Ta!