FOR battling coronavirus disease (Covid-19) "head-on," frontlines and top taxpayers were awarded by the City Government during Bacolod's 84th Charter Day celebration on Saturday, June 18.

Re-electionist Senator Sherwin Gatchalian was the guest of honor and speaker at the Charter Day rites held at the Bacolod Government Center, although he only delivered his message through a recorded video due to the sudden change of schedule.

Gatchalian expressed his gratitude to the people of Bacolod for supporting him in May 9 elections, as he reiterated his promise during the campaign that he will push for the conduct of face-to-face classes for all schools.

He stressed that this would contribute in opening the economy since several businesses surrounding the schools will be revived.

The senator noted that it is also his priority to completely open tourism in the country.

"After two years, we can again celebrate the MassKara Festival," Gatchalian said, as he lauded Bacolod City being the most business friendly local government unit in 2021 in highly urbanized cities outside the National Capital Region (NCR).

The highly urbanized city was recognized in the search organized by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), and 2020 Seal of Good Local Governance Award from the Department of the Interior and Local Government.

"Let's honor our top taxpayers and outstanding citizens for their invaluable contribution to the development of the city," Gatchalian said.

For his part, outgoing Mayor Evelio Leonardia said June 18 of every year is a "special non-working holiday" in Bacolod, after President Rodrigo Duterte signed Republic Act (RA) 11146, which declares June 18 as the correct date for "Bacolod City Charter Day."

He said the new law, RA 11146, was approved by President Rodrigo Duterte on November 9, 2018.

It commemorates the day when then President Manuel Quezon signed and approved into effect Commonwealth Act 326 that created the City of Bacolod.

RA 11146 also provides that the inauguration of the City of Bacolod shall be commemorated every October 19, and that the highlights of the MassKara Festival shall be held on the fourth Sunday of October.

Leonardia along with Councilors Israel Salanga, Archie Baribar, Renecito Novero and Ana Marie Palermo led the commemoration of Bacolod's Charter Day Anniversary.

The mayor left the venue earlier to catch up with his flight for the inauguration of vice president elect Mayor Sara Durterte-Carpio in Davao City.

The Outstanding Real Property Taxpayers for 2021 were: (Corporate), San Miguel Brewery Inc., SM Mega Holdings, SM Prime Holdings Inc., Coca Cola Beverages Philippines Inc. and Capitol Central Commercial Ventures Corp.

For Real Property (Individual), awardees were Jacinto Palma, Catherine Ong, Stephanie Chiu, Rolando Corona Jr. and Jose Antonio Alonte Jr.

The Outstanding Business Taxpayers for 2021 were: (Corporate), San Miguel Brewery Inc., SM City Bacolod, ARB Call Facilities, Coca Cola Beverages Phils. Inc., and Nestle Philippines Inc.

For Business Taxpayers (Individual), awardees were A-A Electrical Supply, GPM Trading & Engineering Services, Bacolod Triumph Hardware, Wilkinson Construction, and Silver Dragon Construction Lumber & Glass Supply.

The awardees received plaques from the Bacolod officials.

Novero and Salanga, together with Councilor Cindy Rojas and Councilor-elect Em Ang, were also cited for their valiant efforts as members of the Emergency Operations Center-Task Force (EOC-TF) alongside assistant deputy for medical data analysis and management Dr. Chris Sorongon, City Health Office officer-in-charge Dr. Edwin Miraflor, Barangay Isolation Center and Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (DRRMO) head Dr. Anna Maria Laarni Pornan, and Andrew Agravante as Bredco monitoring team.

Meanwhile, Jesryl Bancaya, Salvacion Inones, Rene Emba, Lorna Remada and Elsie Escobar were given posthumous awards, which were received by their respective families.

City employees Prudencio Perono, John Troy Gelboy and Josephine Velez were also given plaques for their support.