NEGROS Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson banners his priority programs and projects for the next three years of his administration during his inaugural address and oathtaking rites on Saturday, June 25, 2022, at the Provincial Capitol grounds in Bacolod City.

Lacson took his oath of office before San Carlos Regional Trial Court Judge Amy Alabado Avellano while Vice Governor Jeffrey Ferrer will take his oath before Bago City Regional Trial Court Judge Aireen Bonghanoy.

In his second term, he said the provincial government will fully implement the Universal Health Care Program and expand and strengthen the existing Provincial Health Board through the six Inter-local Health Zones.

Among the priorities is the conversion of the Teresita L. Jalandoni Provincial Hospital from Level Two to Level Three health facility to accommodate up to 300 in-patients.

"It will be our premier hospital, fully equipped with state-of-the-art facilities while the Lorenzo D. Zayco District Hospital in Kabankalan City and Cadiz District Hospital will also be upgraded from Level One to Two, serving up to 100 inpatients," he said.

"We shall continue to modernize the equipment and infra facilities of our eight other district hospitals (and) the Province will actively engage the partnership of non-government organizations and civil societies to implement disease-prevention medical interventions such as the Zero Open Defecation, Nutrition, immunization, and other preventive health services," he also said.

The governor said that the Provincial Health Office and Hospital Operations Department "will work to synchronize the delivery of both preventive and curative medical health care services to be more effective and cost-efficient."

During his term, Lacson noted that they will also urge all local government units (LGUs) to adopt the One Hospital Command program to further simplify the process of providing our constituents with rescue and medical interventions in times of emergency.

Social services

For social services, the provincial government will establish the centers for Children in Situation of Armed Conflict, Children in Conflict with the Law or the Bahay Pag-asa and Half-way House for rebel returnees.

It will operationalize the sectoral offices for the Solo Parents, Local Youth Development, Senior Citizens, Persons with Disabilities and Women.

“We will support Early Childhood Care and Development law, by leading the accreditation of pre-school private learning centers to ensure that quality education services are extended to early grade learners,” Lacson told those who attended his oathtaking.

He also committed to improving the services of the provincial government-owned and managed Negros Occidental Development Center for Women and Children, a residential home for abused women and children by letting house parents focus their attention on the welfare and rehabilitation of their clients.

“We will expand the scope of services of our Provincial Disaster and Management Office by managing resources, including manpower, to effectively match the emergency needs of our constituents through the One Hospital Command, Emergency Rescue 911 and Command and Response Center,” Lacson added.

To save more lives and properties during disasters, the provincial government will further improve the setup of the Automated Early Warning System with the installation of repeaters in critical areas of LGUs to improve the response of the concerned barangays in times of emergency, Lacson said.

He said that in July, a summit will be organized to issue a unified disaster response protocol to be adopted and followed uniformly during emergency and disaster situations.

Lacson said for the next three years, the provincial government will offer scholarships for the dependents of non-returning and displaced overseas Filipino workers, barangay leaders, Barangay Health Workers, persons with disabilities, and children of former rebel returnees.

Jobs, sorts

The Negros Occidental Language, Information and Technology Center Global Campus in Talisay will be fully operational by next year and is expected to train more college undergraduates and out-of-school youths to equip them for work in the business process outsourcing or call center industry.

The said complex, the first of its kind in the province, will be offering special courses to cater to the demands of highly trained and competitive individuals of various specializations for work placements here and abroad, the governor said.

"We will fully support the return to school program that will enable the students to cope with learning gaps caused by the pandemic," Lacson said, adding that he will also continue to rehabilitate Panaad Park and Stadium, the premier sports facility of Negros Occidental located in Bacolod City.

For the next three years, more training programs, including weightlifting, through sports clinics to train more aspiring homegrown athletes will also be conducted by the provincial government, Lacson, a former varsity athlete himself, said.

Peace and order

For peace and order, Lacson said the provincial government will continue to work closely with the Department of the Interior and Local Government, military and police forces, civil-society groups, and multi-stakeholders to implement peace-building activities, particularly in the rural communities.

"We will continue to provide socio-economic interventions to our former rebels, including subsidies for the education and health cards of their dependents,” he said.

It is his aspiration to capacitate them in handling and managing their own socio-entrepreneurial projects to make them sustainable and active partners in community development.

"I often say that the walk of peace is a long one and that for peace to be real, we must address, preserve, and respect the core of humanity and human dignity, and it must be the kind that leaves no one behind,” he stressed.

Food security

In line with the thrust on food security, Lacson said the Provincial Veterinary Office and Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPA) will complement and integrate their services to provide people with sufficient food sources — livestock, poultry, swine, crops, vegetables and marine products.

"We need to protect our six-billion swine industry and four-billion livestock Industry (because) Negros Occidental has become one of the top livestock-producing provinces in the country,” he said.

He added that he wants the province to remain the top backyard producer of hogs nationwide and will continue to improve the genetics of local breeds for all animal species.

Lacson said the veterinary office will preserve reproductive spermatozoa of Great Grand Parent from livestock, poultry and swine so that the province will have a continuous supply of affordable meat even during calamities and disasters.

The OPA, on the other hand, will strengthen the potential of farm centers in the cities of Bago, Himamaylan and Victorias and the municipality of Moises Padilla even as we increase the number of seed banks all over the province to develop our own certified quality rice and vegetable seeds for massive planting.

Water, energy supply

"To ensure the availability of safe, clean and potable water, we will undertake the establishment of bulk water projects that will tap surface water that mostly reaches the sea unutilized,” Lacson said.

The local water districts, either run by LGUs or the Local Water Utilities Administration, should have adequate water sources from such facilities and stop their dependency on groundwater, he said.

Together with the Public-Private Partner Partnership Center, United States Agency for International Development and a private partner, the provincial government will start the construction of at least one bulk water facility in the next three years.

Lacson said that the Alcantaras of Alson's Energy will bring 32-megawatt clean hydroelectric power to the province, particularly in the Fourth District.

"With these developments, reliable and locally generated energy will be made available to every household, every Micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises and every large-scale industry, at a reasonable cost. Not only will we be self-sufficient in food and water, but Negros Occidental will also be self-sufficient in power," the governor announced.

He added that the provincial government will develop and protect the three major rivers—Malogo, Bago, and Ilog Hilabangan to maximize the use of our surface waters; preserve the use of groundwater for environmental protection to prevent salt intrusion, siltation and soil erosion.

"We shall be forging collaborations, making use of Special Agreements in Protected Areas and other laws to maximize investments and livelihood opportunities for communities while preserving the environment, " Lacson said.

Infrastructure

For infrastructure, the province’s budget will cover the concreting of provincial roads, farm-to-market roads, maintenance of nine bailey bridges, and overflow bridges that will be converted into permanent structures, the governor said.

Lacson also said that the province will also purchase heavy and light equipment and nine pontoon barges for dredging to clear waterways and address flooding in some areas in Negros Occidental.

Six slaughterhouses in the towns of Hinoba-an, Cauayan, Murcia, Toboso, Binalbagan and San Carlos City under the Philippine Rural Development Program (PRDP) will be constructed, as well as a 90-lineal-meter bridge in Sagay City.

Other infrastructure projects in the pipeline include the Food Terminal Market or Pala-pala and Negros Residences in Bacolod City, the development plan for Mambukal Wildlife Sanctuary and the improvement of the Cyber Center.

The development of 62-hectare provincial government property in Tambara, San Fernando, Talisay City is also in full swing.

Lacson said the revenues of Negros Occidental have been affected by the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in the last two years, which meant that there is a need to double their efforts to reverse the trend and to increase revenues to finance priority development initiatives and projects.