BEFORE 1967, the five provinces in the Davao Region, Davao del Norte, Compostela Valley, Davao Oriental, Davao del Sur, and Davao Occidental, were administered as a single province named Davao.
This original mother province was split into three: Davao del Norte, Davao Oriental, and Davao del Sur when Republic Act (RA) 4867 (authored by Representative Lorenzo Sarmiento Sr.) was signed into law on May 8, 1967 by then President Ferdinand Marcos.
When it was created, Davao del Norte was composed of 13 municipalities, namely, Asuncion, Babak, Compostela, Kapalong, Mabini, Mawab, Monkayo, Nabunturan, Pantukan, Samal, Sto. Tomas, and the former towns of Tagum and Panabo.
Six additional municipalities were created on May 6, 1970, to include the towns of Carmen, Kaputian, Maco, Montevista, New Bataan and New Corella. By 1996, the province had a total of 22 municipalities, with the creation of San Vicente town (now Laak) in 1979, Maragusan in 1988 and Talaingod in 1990.
The first governor of the old Davao del Norte was Verulo Boiser, who served the Province from July 1, 1967 to July 7, 1977.
On June 17, 1972, Davao del Norte was renamed to Davao Province by virtue of Republic Act 6430.
The province has no office building of its own upon its creation that it temporarily used the mezzanine floor and the spaces below the grandstand of the old Municipal Gymnasium located at the back of the then Municipal Hall of Tagum. Other offices of the province had to use the Ymalay and Cervantes buildings along Mabini Street.
Construction of the Capitol Building started in 1969 courtesy of the Deed of Conditional Donation of a 22.3811-hectare land area given by Doña Margarita Magsanoc Aala. The seat of the Provincial Government was inaugurated on July 1, 1972, during the 5th Founding Anniversary of the province.
During Boiser’s term, the infrastructure development of the province was given a big boost when the province was included among the 28 provinces in the country in the development program of the then Ministry of Local Government and Community Development and the United States Agency for International Development. Under this program, the Province successfully implemented the Rural Roads Program for 15 years and the Barangay Water Program for 11 years.
The second local chief executive of the province was Governor Gregorio Dujali, who served from July 1977 to March 31, 1986. Under his leadership, the agricultural endeavors of the Provincial Government gained prominence. One of the significant projects was the “Pagkain ng Bayan,” a demonstration/model rice farm administered by the Provincial Government, which also generated income for the province. This economic enterprise was later expanded to include the production of other agricultural products.
After the People Power revolution, Prospero Amatong was appointed as the third Governor of Davao del Norte on April 4, 1986. He received his mandate as an elected governor on February 3, 1988, serving the province until 1998. His close supervision in the implementation projects enhanced the infrastructure development of the Province.
Amatong also established a rehabilitation center for the rebel returnees, providing them livelihood projects to earn a living. During his term, Davao del Norte was one of the pilot provinces for the government’s decentralization program, granting the Province financial assistance in the amount of P120 million for social, agricultural and infrastructure development.
The Amatong administration revolutionalized the implementation of infrastructure projects by administration with lesser involvement of contractors since the province purchased its own pool of heavy equipment.
On January 30, 1998, President Fidel Ramos signed RA 8470, creating the Province of Compostela Valley out of Davao del Norte.
Simultaneous with this historical event is the enactment of RA 8471, creating the Island Garden City of Samal that comprise the former municipalities of Babak, Samal and Kaputian; RA 8472 converting the then municipality of Tagum into a component city; and RA 8473 creating the municipality of Braulio Dujali. This brought the political composition of the Province into eight municipalities and two cities, with 223 barangays.
Former 3rd District Congressman Rodolfo del Rosario was sworn into office as the first Governor of the new Province of Davao del Norte Province on July 1, 1998. He led the Province in attaining its vision of becoming a premier province. Key to this success is the dynamism of his development programs in response to the changing needs of the times.
On his first term, the governor put premium on the Minimum Basic Needs approach to development to afford a better quality of life to the Dabaonons.
Among the highlights of the Del Rosario leadership is the bonding together of all the elected provincial officials into an alliance known as the “Hugpong Dabaonon” coalition in order to work together, setting aside political affiliation and ideological differences, in pursuing progress. He established the Technology and Livelihood Development Center, Davao del Norte Investment Promotion Center, the Carmen District Hospital, Luntiang Paraiso Regional Rehabilitation Center and the “Philhealth Para sa Masa” program.
Subsequently, on March 31, 2001, the Municipality of Panabo was converted into a component city by virtue of RA 1015 authored by 3rd District Congressman Antonio Floirendo Jr.
On March 15, 2004, RA 9265 authored by 1st District Congressman Arre Olaño was signed into law creating the Municipality of San Isidro.
By his sound policies adopted as governor, Davao del Norte leapfrogged from the 52nd spot in the 2000 Human Development Index, to 32nd in 2003 HDI, outpacing 20 other Provinces already in the top 30.
In 2004, Del Rosario briefly retired from local politics to serve as the Presidential Adviser on New Government Centers of the Arroyo government. This paved the way for the late Gelacio Gementiza, the former mayor of Tagum City, to become the fifth governor of Davao del Norte. Governor Gementiza continued many of his predecessor’s programs and projects geared towards alleviating poverty.
Responding to the clamor of the people for his return, Del Rosario reclaimed the governorship in 2007. This time he elevated the locus of intervention through his hard infra-oriented RDR Wheels development agenda, primarily addressing the infrastructure needs to the grassroots communities
In 2010, he ran unopposed, unfurling his human development agenda known as People, in order to put a human face to development. He later expanded the strategy to be responsive to global challenges and create risk resilient and climate change-adaptive Dabaonon communities. The main goal is to place the Dabaonon people in a better position to be the center, and the driver, of their own development. So that they will be able to fully take advantage of global opportunities and enjoy a high quality of life.
Among the impacts of Del Rosario’s legacy are the face-lifting of the Provincial Capitol Building and Grounds, construction of the 58-kilometer Talaingod-Bukidnon Road with national government funding and the completion of the of the state-of-the-art Davao del Norte Sports and Tourism Complex that paved the way for its historic hosting of the “best-ever” Palarong Pambansa 2015.
Another great milestone of Del Rosario’s s administration is the launch of the Davao del Norte Learning Institute that offers specialized diploma, baccalaureate and master’s degree courses to raise the academic qualification and capability of government personnel and barangay functionaries in the province.
In the 2016 elections, Del Rosario’s son, former 1st District Congressman Anthony del Rosario received the overwhelming mandate to continue the legacy of his father. The new governor vowed to pursue an economic growth that would really trickle down to the marginalized sectors. He declared to fully harness the human, social, financial and natural capital of the province to further economic growth, boost competitiveness and make a great difference in quality of life of the Dabaonons.
To keep pace with the speeding progress across the country, Governor Anthony expanded the human development agenda of my predecessor, which is now called the Best People strategy. The platform is spelled as Balanced ecology; Enhanced agri-aquaculture; Sustainable tourism; Transformative leadership, Public infrastructure, Education and sports, Optimum health and social services, Public-private partnership, Link to the world; and, Employment and livelihood opportunities.
He crafted the essential road map to properly implement the ten-point agenda, in accordance with his “Abilidad at Malasakit” or AMA leadership branding. This is aimed at opening up vast opportunities for the Dabaonons to take advantage of in this increasingly globalizing world. The governor set up even higher standards of excellence to secure the Province’s vantage position and continued relevance in this extraordinary era of change.
Governor AGR, as Anthony is fondly called, is jubilant to lead the Dabaonon people in celebrating the historic Golden Jubilee of the Province on July 1. He is very optimistic that the success of the 50th Araw ng Davao del Norte will augur well in inspiring his people to harness their full potential in helping build the nation and attain a better future. (PR)
Published in the SunStar Davao newspaper on June 26, 2017.
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