Guv: Reform and change, now a reality-A A +A
Wednesday, August 8, 2012
“REFORM and change is not just a political statement; it is now a reality.”
This was the remark of Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Sr. as he cited the gains and achievements of his administration after two years in his State of the Province Address (Sopa) delivered at the Provincial Board session hall Wednesday.
Defensor’s 45-minute speech was aired live over three major radio stations in Iloilo City and was viewed simultaneously via four widescreens installed on the sixth, fourth, second and ground floors of the Iloilo Provincial Capitol by Provincial Government employees and guests.
Defensor expressed confidence under his “reform and change” agenda he had reclaimed the people’s trust, respect and faith in the Provincial Government.
“My friends, we did not just reclaim the confidence of our people in government, but we also restored the pride and honor of our official family here at the Iloilo Provincial Capitol which was badly eroded by storms of adversity that rocked the very foundation of this edifice. Being an official or employee of the Iloilo Provincial Government is now a mark of distinction,” he proudly stated.
Defensor cited the “reform and change” he has instituted in the province’s procurement system which has resulted to a substantial savings of more than P100 million for the first two years of his administration.
He mentioned as example the recent acquisition of two motor graders which were cheaper by P1.6 million compared to the ones acquired in 2006 from the same supplier and the present procurement of medical oxygen for only P240 per cylinder compared to the previous price of P380 per cylinder.
Upgrading of hospitals
Defensor also boasted of having invested P500 million for the massive upgrading and improvement of the 12 province-run hospitals “so we can serve our people better, and encourage our Philippine Health and Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) beneficiaries and members to patronize our hospitals and in turn can earn from PhilHealth reimbursements.”
The Defensor administration also released P73.3 million to ensure the enrollment of 71,209 families in PhilHealth, covering the period from January 1, 2012 to December 31, 2013.
Defensor also increased the annual budget for financial assistance to individuals in crisis situations from the previous P2.5 million to P20 million to address their medical, burial and other emergency needs.
It was learned that every day, an average of 45 indigents come to the Provincial Capitol for financial assistance.
Anti-illegal fishing drive
Defensor also cited the successful campaign against illegal fishing activities in the province.
“For the first time in the history, we have stopped the operation of ‘hulbot-hulbot’ from the Municipality of Banate all the way to the Municipality of Carles where mayors of these municipalities have certified the manifestos signed by ‘hulbot-hulbot’ operators that they are ceasing their operations once and for all,” Defensor said.
He also claimed that the Provincial Bantay Dagat Task Force has made not only inroads in reducing illegal fishing in Northern Iloilo, but has also raised P2.6 million in compromise fines from the various apprehensions it made in 2011.
Improved rice production
On Agriculture, Defensor said in 2011 the province harvested 959,239 metric tons (MT) of rice, a significant improvement of almost 300,000 MT over previous year’s harvest of 659,970 MT. He said Iloilo now ranked third among the rice producing provinces in the country, a feat that earned the province the “Agri-Pinoy Rice Achievers Awards 2011” and a four-million peso prize from the Department of Agriculture (DA).
Meanwhile, his administration has so far spent P24.3 million for the Provincial Waterworks and Sanitation Program providing potable water to 286 barangays and 14 public schools that did not have water sources in the past.
To provide universal access to basic education, the province also invested P34 million by hiring 300 teachers and P39.4 million for the construction and repair of classrooms and school facilities this year alone.
Defensor also allotted funds for the completion and upgrading of facilities at the Iloilo Rehabilitation Center in Pototan which will soon be fully turned over to the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP).
He also cited the major repairs and renovation of the facilities at the Iloilo Sports Complex to make it a first-rate facility, where some P21 million was spent.
Defensor said his administration’s efforts on good governance have started to bear fruits as indicated by the various awards obtained by the province from the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to include the Seal of Good of Housekeeping (SGH), a distinction which carries a P30-million prize which was apportioned among eight critical provincial road segments that needed urgent repair and improvement, a big chunk of it, or exactly P10 million went to the concreting of the Dumangas-Balabag-Sulangan Road which connects the entire province to the Dumangas Ro-Ro port.
Old Capitol restoration
The Governor also mentioned in his Sopa his pet project which is the restoration of the Old Iloilo Provincial Capitol.
“It is being rebuilt and rehabilitated to be what it once was, and what it was always meant to be – a symbol of ideal government, an institution respected and revered by the people and which in turn repays that respect and reverence by the depth and breadth of its care and concern for the welfare and happiness of our people. That building and the work being done on it are emblematic of what we are trying to do,” Defensor stressed.
He also asked the members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan to help him in realizing his other dream—to rebuild and convert the old provincial jail building into a regional museum “that will serve as a repository of our glorious past – the sanctuary of the Ilonggo soul.”
For several times, Defensor acknowledged and thanked the SP for supporting his programs for the welfare of the people of the province. He cited the passage of the Iloilo Provincial Investments Promotion Code of 2011, the Gender and Development Code, the Provincial Dengue Prevention and Control Ordinance, the Gravid Crab Ordinance and the Fishery Code among others.
Defensor also reiterated his call for support to the reforestation and mangrove-planting activities of the province as he thanked all those organizations and volunteers who always respond to his call. (Erly C. Garcia/PR)