FOR 51 years, Davao del Norte has taken long strides to become one of the major players in Davao Region as a powerhouse not only in terms of economic development but also in terms of governance.
"You, my dear Dabaonons, have been one with us in achieving the goals to continue the legacy of transformative leadership to sustain the sense of stability, security and prosperity of our Province," Davao del Norte Governor Anthony G. Del Rosario said during his recent State of the Province Address.
Del Rosario said 2017 has seen the strengthening and improvement of existing systems and projects implemented by the provincial government as well as new ones all geared towards serving the best interest of the Dabaonon.
"These accomplishment highlights were anchored on our Best People Agenda," he said.
The Best People Agenda is the ten-point agenda of the provincial government on the economy, environment, socio-cultural aspect, and the people. Best People stands for 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.
In caring for the environment, among the provincial government's achievements is achieving a decrease in open or degraded forestland from 100,249.16 hectares in 2016 to 99,911.17 hectares in 2017 through the various projects under the Integrated Watershed Development Program, Restoration of Forest Cover and Riverbank and Mangrove Rehabilitation Efforts.
A total of 353.5 hectares were also planted with forest trees, fruit trees, and bamboo. On top of this, 35.85 hectares of coastal and riverbanks in Panabo City, Carmen, and Tagum City were rehabilitated with mangroves.
"Importante nga maprotektahan ang environment aron menos ang katalagman. Kung walay katalagman o disaster nga mahitabo, mas dako ang posibilidad sa economic development (It is important to protect the environment to prevent disasters. If there are no disasters that will happen, economic development will happen)," Del Rosario said.
The provincial government has allotted P91.44 million to support disaster risk reduction and management undertakings which includes environmental efforts.
For its agriculture sector, a total of 1,924 hectares were planted with high value commodity under the provincial government's High Value Commercial Crops Development Project.
It also established model farms and conducted trainings and seminars for farmers to showcase new farming technologies to them and capacitate them.
The provincial government also intensified its information system through the Farmers Information and Technology Services/Management Information System to make information material available to the agriculture sector in the province.
For its tourism sector, the Provincial Tourism Masterplan was formulated in a bid to sustainably manage tourism resources in the province.
"The Province recognizes tourism’s importance as a tool for growth as it generates jobs for the people, while indirectly supporting related sectors. Hence, the Province has actively engaged in strengthening sites and attractions, improving connectivity and access to destinations, as well as in institutionalizing tourism governance and human resources," Del Rosario said.
The provincial government has developed four new tourism sites while maintaining three other established attractions. It has allotted some P1.4 million for the tourism site development and enhancement projects for the local government units in a bid to attract more visitors.
On improving its internet access, the provincial government has earmarked P17.82 million to fund its eGovernance Program in 2017 for its ICT System Development Project, Infrastructure Development Project, and Institutional Capacity Development Project.
This will enable the provincial government to bring basic services closer to its constituents, speed up transactions, improve its services, and cut down costs.
"The Province harnessed its unique advantages in redesigning its systems and processes, with a focus on the public’s needs, service performance and cost efficiency to deliver the performance that our citizens need and expect from us," Del Rosario said.
For the People aspect, the provincial government has implemented various legislation and projects that seeks to meet the needs of the people. This covers projects on education, infrastructure, safety and security, health, and social needs.
Among the notable projects under People is the strengthening of their health programs.
"Health is the top priority goal for the well-being of our people and touted as way more important than income and wealth in determining the overall satisfaction in life," Del Rosario said.
One of their programs was improving the operation their health referral system. This ensured better cooperation, coordination and exchange of information between the provincial government's health facilities within its Inter-local Health Zones. The improved system resulted to better continuity of care and effective linkages between the different levels of care.
In terms of infrastructure, the provincial government, together with the Philippine Rural Development Program (PRDP), alloted P846.25 million for the rehabilitation of farm-to-market roads, provision of water systems, and improvement of organic production centers and common facilities across the province.
"The province continues to improve its infrastructure, installing the vital mechanisms to make its physical needs as efficient and as productive as possible," Del Rosario said.