Wednesday August 15, 2018

Maasin mayor humbled by awards, challenges

SOUTHERN LEYTE. Mayor Nacional Mercado of Maasin City in Southern Leyte has remained humbled by the numerous recognitions and challenges in the city, as Maasin is set to celebrate its 18th cityhood anniversary on August 10 and fiesta celebration on August 15 in honor of Our Lady of Assumption. (Photo courtesy of Mayor Nacional Mercado)

MAASIN City Mayor Nacional Mercado has remained humbled by the numerous recognitions and challenges in the city, the capital of Southern Leyte province.

As Maasin is set to celebrate its 18th cityhood anniversary on August 10, Mercado acknowledged the support of his constituents and co-city officials in his first term as mayor.

“In spite of our limited resources, for we are only fourth-class city, in fact, we are the smallest city in terms of area and Internal Revenue Allotment in Region 8 (Eastern Visayas), yet we are big in our dreams and big in our collaborative efforts which consequently we have been recipient of various national and regional awards and recognitions,” the 36-year-old mayor said.

Under his watch, Maasin City was adjudged as one of the 359 awardees of Seal of Good Local Governance (SGLG) in 2017 out of the 145 cities and 1,715 local government units evaluated by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).

Based on the governance assessment report, the city qualified in its four core components, which include financial administration, disaster preparedness, social protection, and peace and order.

Though only the four core components are necessary for one city to qualify, Maasin City “also met the essential components namely business-friendliness and competitiveness, environment management, and tourism, culture and the arts.”

In this year’s SGLG assessment, where the criteria are all-in, Maasin City was one of the nine local government units (LGUs) in Eastern Visayas that qualified for national assessment.

The mayor hoped that the city will win the award of excellence and good governance for the second time.

Also, Mercado bared the other prestigious awards received by the city under his administration: Child friendly Local Governance Award; Child Friendly Local Government Unit; Most Improved LGU for Component Cities, second place; Best LGU on Pabasa sa Nutrisyon in 2016-2017; Regional Outstanding Barangay Nutrition Scholar; Regional Outstanding Barangay Nutrition Council; Regional Outstanding Barangay Health Worker Federation 2017; and Drug-cleared city, among others.

The mayor also hailed the smoke-free ordinance enacted by former mayor now Vice Mayor Maloney Samaco that led the city to receive the Hall of Famer for Red Orchid award.

On nutrition, health, sports, and wellness, Mercado said the city now have life-saving devices such as automated external defibrillators (AEDs), and additional ambulances and doctor to its roster of three existing physicians while institutionalizing sports and fitness programs like the Zumba and Hataw sessions.

The city ranked third among 13 competing divisions during the Eastern Visayas Regional Athletic Association meet and hosted “Pinoy Pride 44” boxing match showcasing Maasinhon champions like brothers Albert and Jason Pagara.

In support of its agricultural and commercial development, the mayor reported on the increasing number of commercial establishments, banks and farm inputs to the farmers in the city.

He added that more health centers and infrastructure projects will be implemented in the city.

Mercado also took pride in the operation of additional transport services like the Weesam Express and the opening of Guadalupe port to provide easy access for investors and tourists from nearby Cebu and Bohol.

Commercial airline travel through Air Juan is now operating in the city coupled with newly installed improvements at the Panan-awan airport.

The city also enacted local investment and incentive code, tourism code, and other measures on public-private partnership approach towards development to further invite tourism-oriented and related enterprises.

To ensure peace and order particularly in times of disaster, Mercado said they already have the Maasin City children’s code, traffic code, gender and development code, city anti-narcotic unit, the establishment of VAWC (Violence against Women and Children) desks in all 70 barangays of the city, including streetlight project particularly in danger-prone areas.

The mayor also assured that the city has a ready team and equipment on local disaster and risk reduction management along with its firefighting and extricating equipment.

Together with Gawad Kalinga, Department of Health, and Department of Social Welfare and Development, the city launched the "Rehabilitation Without Walls" program for drug dependents, in support to the anti-drug program of President Rodrigo Duterte who was born in Maasin.

He maintained that environmental conservation is a top priority in his administration as he backed the comprehensive solid waste management ordinance in the city.

Mercado lauded the city police for being awarded as outstanding city police station of the year for two consecutive years already, and to Senior Police Officer 1 Emerson Epiz being an outstanding police non-commissioned officer of the year.

He also thanked the City Council, Provincial Government, and his father Southern Leyte Representative Roger Mercado for the development projects being received by Maasin City from National Government agencies like the Tech4Ed program of the Department of Information, Communication, and Technology (DICT) and the Yolanda Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Program from the Department of Agriculture, among others.

“All these are because we are helping each other, in the Maasinhon way of bayanihan, nag-ajonay tang tanan, nagtinabangay ta,” said Mercado during his state of the city address recently, thanking the barangay officials, socio-religious and civic sector, private sector, academe, and business groups for their help in the growth of the city.

Married with two children, Mercado was also a recipient of the Philippine Outstanding Achievement Award in Public Service given by the Philippine Outstanding Achiever Council.

Meanwhile, Mercado announced the upcoming job fair at the city gymnasium on August 13 in line to its charter day and its fiesta celebration on August 15 in honor of Our Lady of Assumption.

Maasin City, with its over 85,560 people and a land area of 21,171 hectares, unveiled this year's theme for the 18th cityhood anniversary which is #MaasinAJONAY #USWAGpaMORE.

For 2019, the mayor said that their IRA will be P543,658,589 where 20 percent of these or approximately P108.7 million are earmarked for developmental projects that have been approved by the city development council.

Their plans also include historical building construction or renovation, projects requested under local budget circulars 116 and 117, loan for legislative building and the integration of Maasin City College and Southern Leyte State University.

“Yet, while all of these are much to be proud of, we still have many challenges ahead—challenges which I can’t face alone; programs, projects, activities that I can’t do by myself. I, as the third mayor of our City might not be as good, might not be the best, but I will definitely work for the best,” said Mercado, as he urged the public for “cooperation and involvement.” (SunStar Philippines)