Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor delivered his State of the Province Address (SOPA) on November 7, 2017 at the Iloilo Provincial Capitol. Here’s the full transcript of his speech, courtesy of Provincial Administrator Raul Banias:
State Of the Province Address 2017
BY GOV. ARTHUR D. DEFENSOR, SR.
Vice Governor Christine S. Garin,Members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, distinguished guests, fellow workers in government, ladies and gentlemen:
You won’t see it if you’re coming to the Capitol through the covered pedestrian walkway alongside Museo Iloilo. But if you come from the gate beside Casa Real and across Casa Plaza, you couldn’t miss the tarpaulin banner at the canopy announcing our achievement as the Best Performing Province in Western Visayas in the Excellence in Local Governance Awards of the Department of the Interior and Local Government, or the EXCELL Awards.
Winning that top honor every year since 2014 puts us in the Hall of Fame.
You’ll appreciate how significant that is as you enter the Capitol lobby and see on the left side of the fountain area a plaque that says that the Hall of Fame has been conferred on the Province of Iloilo for continuously exhibiting above-benchmark performance in all facets of Governance — Administrative, Social, Economic and Environmental — thus consistently winning as Best Performing Province for the years 2014, 2015 and 2016.
Below it are three glass plaques announcing more honors we received. In 2011, the DILG awarded us with the Seal of Good Housekeeping “in recognition of (our) efforts in advancing the principles of accountability and transparency in local governance.”
When the DILG enhanced the award and changed its name to the “Seal of Good Local Governance”, we immediately got two recognitions, winning our first in 2015 and our second in 2016. These honors recognized our journey towards good local governance by upholding the standards of transparency, integrity and service delivery.
Bangod sining mga pasidungog nga ginhatag sa aton sang DILG, nakaagum kita sang kahigayunan nga makabaton indi lamang sang Performance Challenge Fund nga aton gingamit sa pagpakay-o sang aton mga dalanon apang naka ambit man kita sa iban pa nga mga performance-based programs kasubong sang “SALINTUBIG” ukon ang “Sagana at Ligtas na Tubig sa Lahat Program”, kag ang “Bottoms-up Budgeting”.
Apang indi lamang ina. We have just been informed that for the third time, the Province of Iloilo has again been given the Seal of Good Local Governance for 2017, making us a Grand Slam Winner of this prestigious award. I don’t want to brag but earning the seal for three consecutive years gives us bragging rights — bragging rights that we have excelled.
As a Hall of Famer and Grand Slam Winner, we are automatically out of the competition. It’s all too easy for us to sit on our laurels for this year, as other LGUs do their best to prove their worth without any pressure from us.
But this certainly is no time for us to rest. If at all, this is the time for us to take stock of what we have accomplished so far and to prepare for the challenges ahead.
Our campaign for Reform and Change which we launched seven years ago upon my return to the Capitol laid down the foundation for transparency, responsiveness and excellence in local governance that has served us exceedingly well. On that foundation, we have earned numerous awards, won not only by the Provincial Government as a whole but also by our individual departments in various areas of concern — in treasury and assessment, environment, agriculture, social welfare, youth development, and employment generation.
Malaba ini nga listahan kung aton isa-isahon. But let me just cite the more recent ones:
Early last month, our Public Employment Service Office was awarded for the second time as the Most Outstanding PESO in the whole Philippines. It is also the Grand Slam Winner for the same honor in the whole of Western Visayas.
Our job fairs and the various forms of assistance we have extended to jobseekers have helped families become more financially stable as family members find productive work here and abroad.
Congratulations to Mr. Francisco “Bombit” Heler and his staff for a job well done!
Our Iloilo Provincial Bantay Dagat has earned praises internationally for its relentless campaign against illegal fishing, with commendations coming from the Institute of Governance and Sustainable Development based in Washington DC, and the United Nations Environment Programme in Bangkok, Thailand.
This is our contribution to environmental conservation as we give special attention to the Visayan Sea and renew our commitment with the Governors of Cebu, Negros Occidental and Masbate to protect and restore this body of water that used to be the “Center of Marine Biodiversity.”
To our Bantay Dagat team, I will support you all the way!
Of late, we were also officially informed that the Provincial Government of Iloilo is the National Winner of the 2017 Apolinario Mabini Award for the Local Government given by the Philippine Foundation for the Rehabilitation of the Disabled Inc., for our services to the mass of citizens with disabilities within its jurisdiction in the last two years.
We have a scholarship program for intellectually gifted persons with disabilities who come from poor families. This is separate and distinct from our “Iskolar Sang Iloilo Program” which we established way back in 1998 and has already produced a number of students with very high academic honors.
Through our Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office, we have also established partnerships with charitable organizations to support PWDs and provide them with leadership training and livelihood programs.
Early this year, our PSWDO also won three awards from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), namely, the “Gawad sa Makabayang Teknolohiyang Panlipunan for Persons with Disabilities (PWD)” and the “GAPAS Award” for an LGU Model for the implementation of “Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps)”.
We also got the award as the Best Local Government Unit Functionality in the Implementation of Social Welfare Services.
All these are testimonials to our great concern for the underprivileged and the disadvantaged. As Ralph Waldo Emerson puts it: “Government exists to defend the weak and the poor and the injured party; the rich and the strong can better take care of themselves.”
For all these efforts, I would like to congratulate Dr. Neneth Pador for steering the wheel of our Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office to excellence!
Sang damlag lang, ginpasidunggan sang Philhealth Regional Office VI ang aton Gobyerno Probinsyal bilang Best Employer Award – First Place in Government Sector. Ini bangud sang pagpaninguha sang Hospital Management Office sa pagpanguna ni Provincial Administrator, Dr. Raul Banias kag tanan nga mga Chiefs of Provincial and District Hospitals.
The Department of Health and the New Born Screen Center – Visayas recognized in October last year the Ramon Tabiana Memorial District Hospital in Cabatuan with the Achievers Award for its exemplary performance in new born screening and for its active role in helping government improve health of children through new born screening.
In December last year, the Philippine Information Agency awarded our official publication – Balita Halin sa Kapitolyo – as the Best LGU/Agency Newsletter for 2016 in the whole of Western Visayas. It also won the same recognition in 2015. For this, I congratulate our Information Chief Nereo Lujan and the men and women of Public Information and Community Affairs Office!
Likewise, the Province of Iloilo was conferred the 2017 GAWAD EMB by the Environmental Management Bureau in recognition of our effective management and implementation of Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, and our extraordinary services to the community and the environment.
Kag sang Hunyo 29, 2017, ginpasidunggan kita sang bag-o nga Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu bilang Environmental Champion sa bilog nga Western Visayas.
Naka-tukod na kita sang 46 ka mga school-based teen centers sa bug-os nga probinsya agud maghatag sang mga nagakaangay nga mga aktibidades para sa aton mga bumulutho sa high school. Ini isa ka pamaagi agud mapalayo ang aton mga pamatan-on sa mga nagkalainlain nga bisyo kag aton ini bulig sa kampanya sang national government batok sa ilegal nga droga.
Our Teen Center Program, dubbed “Teeniran: Facilidad sang Kabataan,” became a Finalist for the second time in the Galing Pook Awards. We are a bit disappointed that we did not make it to the top-ten as most of the winners involved environmental and livelihood-generating programs while our entry focuses on youth development.
Nevertheless, former Mayor Ramon Yee, our Provincial Population Officer, and his staff deserve our warm congratulations!
But even as we bask in the warm glow of achievement, let’s look back a bit and see how we’ve gone this far. Let’s put markers on the map of memory and remind ourselves of the pitfalls we have avoided, the failures we had to endure, and the trials we have turned into triumphs. It is with insight born of hindsight that we hone the gift of foresight.
In my State of the Province Address in 2011, a year after I returned to the Capitol, I talked about the application of results-based management in what we were to do here in the provincial government to help us ensure that all of our inputs and outputs contribute to the achievement of our desired results.
And these inputs and outputs can be seen in the roads we built, the bridges we maintained, the water systems we established, the classrooms we opened and repaired, the hospitals we modernized, the services we improved, the crime index we decreased, the investments we generated, and the income we earned.
But our own resources were not enough for everything we intended to accomplish. And so we built trust. We proved to everyone that we can handle funds with transparency and efficiency so we can attract soft loans and grants from national agencies and international partners.
Take our various infrastructures projects, for example. We were able to fund them because we availed of the KALSADA Program of the Department of the Interior and Local Government, the Philippine Rural Development Program (PRDP) of the Department of Agriculture, and the Bottom-Up Budgeting (BUB) of the Department of Budget and Management.
As winner of the Seal of Good Housekeeping in 2011, we also received a share of the Special Local Road Fund, part of the fees collected from vehicle registration in the Province of Iloilo and programmed so local government units can augment their limited road maintenance budget.
Ginapatuman naton subong ang nagkalainlain nga mga infrastructure projects sa banwa sang Anilao, Calinog, Dingle, Leon, Passi City, Pavia, Pototan, San Enrique kag Tigbauan nga may kabilogan nga balor nga naglab-ot sa 500 million pesos.
From the KALSADA Program, we are halfway at completing the 162-million-peso concreting of the 15.3-kilometer provincial road that will connect Anilao, Dingle and San Enrique, passing through the barangays of Badiang, Camiros, Ilajas in Anilao, Moroboro and Lincud in Dingle, and Rumagayray in San Enrique.
We recently broke ground for the four (4) more Road Projects amounting to 414 million pesos, which includes the 121-million-peso Concreting of the Mina-Talibong-Yugot-Nabitasan-Naslo Provincial Road linking the towns of Pototan and Mina; the 165-million-peso Concreting of the Cabugao-Banban-Toyungan Provincial Road in Calinog; the 43-million-peso Concreting of the Batad-Embarkadero Provincial Road in Batad; and the 82-million-peso Concreting of the Poblacion-Bancal-Abong-Tarong Provincial Road in Carles.
Under the Philippine Rural Development Program, we are also halfway in completing the 117-million-peso rehabilitation of the 10.5-kilometer Poblacion-Tacuyong Norte Provincial Road in Leon and the 258-million-peso rehabilitation of the 28-kilometer Imbang Grande-Gemumua-Agahon-Agtabo Provincial Road in Passi City.
We are almost complete in the concreting of the 76-million-peso Parara-Jamog Provincial Road in the Municipality of Tigbauan.
Natapos na naton ang balor 14.5-million pesos nga proyekto nga gin pondohan sang Special Local Road Fund nga nagalakip sang Reblocking sang Balabag-Pandac-Jibaoan Provincial Road sa Pavia kag ang pagkay-o sang Rumbang-Pototan Provincial Road.
Natapos naman ang bidding para sa Rehabilitation sang Tinocuan-Purog-Maribuyong Provincial Road sa Banwa sang Dueñas nga naga-laba sang napulo ka kilometro. Ini nga proyekto naga balor 100 million pesos kag kaina lang sang aga, nabaton naton ang No Objection Letter halin sa PRDP, kag ini nga proyekto paga-umpisahan na sa madali nga tini-on.
We have continuously upgraded our hospitals and improved the hospital-seeking behaviour of our people. This has increased our income, particularly from PhilHealth, which by the end of 2016 registered an excess income and unutilized advances of 281 million pesos.
We did this not just by utilizing our Internal Revenue Allotment or IRA but by availing of a loan from the Land Bank of the Philippines and by seeking assistance from the Department of Health under its Hospital Facilities Enhancement Program, for which we provided a counterpart.
Nakakuha kita pondo sa Land Bank sa balor nga 277 million pesos kag ini aton gin bag-o gid lang natapos nga pagpakay-o sang Rep. Pedro Trono District Hospital sa Guimbal, kag sa madali na lang matapos nga pagkay-o sang Iloilo Provincial Hospital sa Pototan, sang Ramon Tabiana District Hospital sa Cabatuan, kag sang Sara District Hospital sa Sara.
With assistance from the DOH, we inaugurated early this year the 35-million peso new two-storey hospital building at the Federico Roman Tirador Memorial District Hospital in Janiuay that houses the out-patient department, X-ray, laboratory and dental departments on its ground floor and an additional of 25 rooms at its second floor.
In Lambunao, we also completed a new medical ward complex with ten private rooms at the Dr. Ricardo Y. Ladrido Memorial District Hospital for which we allotted 15 million pesos with the DOH contributing 10 million pesos.
In Dumangas, the DOH helped us repair and upgrade the annex building of the Ramon Duremdes District Hospital at the cost of 12 million pesos so we can convert the facility into a ward complex.
Our hospital upgrading program does not only involve the construction and improvement of buildings and facilities but it also aims to ensure sufficient supply of medicines, the acquisition of much-needed medical equipment and hiring of additional medical personnel so we can transform them into “Real Hospitals for the Poor”.
And our people are responding positively. More and more of them are patronizing our hospitals confident that we can provide them health care comparable to what they can expect in the private sector.
I have repeatedly told you about the multi-million peso assistance that we received from the Korean International Cooperation Agency or KOICA for the rehabilitation of our hospitals found in Geographically-Isolated and Disadvantaged Areas, namely the Aleosan District Hospital in Alimodian, the Dr. Ricardo Provido District Hospital in Calinog, and the Jesus M. Colmenares District Hospital in Balasan.
Ginakalipay ko nga ipahibalo sa inyo nga natapos na naton implementar ang tanan nga mga proyekto nga ginpondohan sang KOICA sa balor nga 3.1 million US dollars. Ang ini nga mga hospital nagapangalagad na subong sa aton mga kasimanwa indi lamang halin sa sini nga mga kabanwahanan kundi sa mga kaingod man nila.
Kabahin sa sini nga programa, gina tinguhaan naton nga dugangan ang bed capacities sang aton mga hospital. Sa subong, may kabilogan nga 510 bed capacity ang tanan-tanan naton nga mga hospital. Gusto naton nga malab-ot ini tanan sa 730 bed capacity.
Again, we could not have done this alone and we are thankful for KOICA’s benevolence to the Province of Iloilo. I can say without fear of contradiction that the Province of Iloilo is one of the biggest recipients of assistance from KOICA in the Philippines.
Early this year, we broke ground for the 5.5 million-dollar Rehabilitation of the Port of Concepcion, a major component of the Northern Iloilo Fishery Rehabilitation and Development Project that we are implementing in areas affected by super-typhoon “Yolanda” in 2013.
Padayon subong ang pagkay-o kag pagpatahom sang fish port sang banwa sang Concepcion nga paga-lakipan sang pagpatindog sang bag-o kag moderno nga fish port complex, ice storage facility, bag-o nga mga dalan, waste management facilities kag ang paghiwat sang mga capacity-building programs para sa mga project implementors kag beneficiaries.
We have our Provincial Planning and Development Office to thank for a well-crafted and impressive project proposal which was readily approved by KOICA.
Our efforts to rebuild the lives of those affected by super-typhoon “Yolanda” did not end with cash and housing assistance but they continue to this day as we work to restore their sources of livelihood and create an enabling environment so they can stand on their feet again.
We have also partnered with the Synergeia Foundation, an organization that works to improve the quality of education in the Province of Iloilo through the implementation in 22 municipalities of the Education Governance Effectiveness or EdGE Program which is funded by the United States Assistance for International Development (USAID).
Sa sini nga bahin, aton gina-panginbulahan ang Banwa sang Concepcion, Cabatuan, Alimodian, Lambunao, Miag-ao kag Mina nga nangin recipients sang Seal of Good Education Governance kag nakabaton ang kada isa sa ila sang incentive packages nga naga-balor 1.5 million pesos halin sa Synergeia Foundation.
With this, we have declared a total war on poverty and illiteracy on the premise that these two sad phenomena in our society are intertwined and both need to be addressed at the same time.
Illiteracy leads to poverty and poverty begets illiteracy. It is not surprising therefore that the towns in Iloilo that figured the highest in poverty incidence, were also the same towns found to have the lowest survival rates in primary education.
We are therefore intensifying our responses to these problems so we can uplift the lives of the disadvantaged even as we continuously support our poor but intelligent students through our “Iskolar Sang Iloilo Program”.
Sa idalom sa Iskolar sang Iloilo Program, sa subong gid lang nga tuig, sa sais senta y kwatro (64) ka mga scholars nga nag-graduate, apat (4) ang Magna Cum Laude, baynte (20) ang Cum Laude; samtang apat (4) ang nangin Registered Engineers kag isa (1) ang nangin Certified Public Accountant (CPA).
Kag kahapon gid lang, may isa kita ka Iskolar nga nag Topnotcher – Rank No. 4 sa Fisheries Technologist Board Examination. Ginapanginbulahan naton si Jomel Limbago sang San Enrique, Iloilo nga nag graduate sa sini gid lang nga tuig sa ISCOF-Barotac Nuevo Campus!
On a broader scale, we are strengthening public education by maximizing the use of our Provincial School Board fund. Last year we invested 84.8 million pesos in the repair and rehabilitation of 117 school buildings, the construction of 28 new ones and the completion of 76 education facilities all over the Province of Iloilo. We want to create an environment conducive for learning and we are committed to invest more on education.
We have been assisting our cooperatives every year through the Provincial Cooperative Development Office so they can pass on to their less-privileged members the benefits of having a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise rooted in the values of self-help, self-responsibility, equality, and equity.
Sa sini nga tuig, nagpa-gwa kita sang pondo nga naglab-ot 4.2 million pesos bilang pautang sa lima ka mga kooperatiba, kasubong sang Kooperatiba Naton Multi-Purpose Cooperative sang Tigbauan, Pinili Development Cooperative sang New Lucena, Metro Dumangas Multi-Purpose Cooperative, Lambunao Government Employees Multi-Purpose Cooperative kag ang Miagao Farmers and Vendors Consumers Cooperative.
We have extended similar forms of assistance to many other cooperatives in previous years. We do this because cooperatives have always been and will always be effective partners of the provincial government in maximizing the benefits that can be derived from limited resources and make them available to a large number of people.
Iloilo remains a top rice producing province but our farmers cannot just rely on palay production alone. This is why we are promoting vegetable growing and encouraging our coffee and cacao industry to increase productivity and income of our farmers.
We have appropriated 10 million pesos for our Cacao and Coffee Program. There is a worldwide demand for coffee and cacao. In Iloilo alone, the increasing number of restaurants and coffee shops has generated a high demand for these agricultural products.
As reported by our Local Economic and Investment Promotions Office, among the provinces in the country, Iloilo is fourth in poultry production, fifth in palay production, fifth in sugar production, sixth in commercial fish production and seventh in mango production.
Since last year, we have set up 21 small-scale irrigation projects in 13 municipalities at the cost of 10.1 million pesos, all equipped with pumps and engines, so farmlands can still be productive during the dry season. Fortunately, our farmers did not experience the brunt of the recent El Niño phenomenon.
Speaking of our water resources, our Provincial Engineers Office, which is now implementing the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Project, is currently installing potable water systems in remote and far-flung barangays at a total project cost of 30.7 million pesos.
To ensure that our hills and springs will not go dry, our Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office is now implementing upland reforestation in Alimodian and Maasin, targetting around 518 hectares of forest land, and has established a 100-hectare agroforestry development area in Barotac Viejo that is planted with forest and fruit trees and other agricultural crops under an integrated social forestry program.
We also reforested 100 hectares of mangrove areas while our award-winning Action for Regreening and Transformation for Climate Change Adaptation or ART for CCA program has planted 1.7 million indigenous trees all over the Province of Iloilo.
We also established 25 rainwater harvesting facilities at the cost of 12.9 million pesos in 25 municipalities and situated in evacuation centers. All these have a total capacity of 17,000 liters of water per system-load, and can provide the water requirements of 100 evacuees for 15 days.
After completing 12 rainwater Ferro cement tanks, 27 more are undergoing construction this year, each having a capacity of 4,000 liters of water. They are all built for schools, health centers, barangay halls and upland communities found to have difficulty in accessing water especially during summer.
Ginpa-untat naton ang pag issue sang bag-o nga mga quarry permits sa lima ka mga dalagko nga mga suba agod ma punggan naton ang padayon nga erosion kag pag ab-ab sang kasubaan sang Aganan, Jalaur, Sibalom, Suage kag Ulian river systems nga nagabutang sa peligro nga matumba ang aton mga taytay, maguba ang aton mga irrigation dams kag iban pa nga mga public kag private infrastructures.
While there is a high demand for quarry materials these days due to the construction boom that we have experienced over the past years, we cannot afford to destroy our ecosystem and risk the future of Iloilo.
We fully support our Philippine National Police with funds and equipment in its peace and order campaign that led, among others, to the arrest of 239 drug suspects from January to September this year, including the neutralization of Richard Prevendido, the top drug personality in Western Visayas.
We could have not done all these without the support of the Members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, under the leadership of Vice Governor Christine Garin, for whom I am very thankful, especially with the passage of important provincial legislations that will help us sustain our gains, like the Revised Revenue Code of Iloilo, the Code of General Ordinances and the Code of Parental Responsibility.
Sa aton pagbinuligay para sa maayo nga panghimanwa, nakasandig ang padayon nga pag-uswag sang Probinsya sang Iloilo. Gina-pasalig ko kamo nga akon man paga-sakdagon ang inyo nga mga lihok para sa kasulhayan sang aton mga pumuluyo.
For all our efforts, we are happy to note that we have generated 14 billion pesos worth of new investments in the areas of agri-production, power generation, and tourism-related projects and services, resulting in 800 local jobs which could easily increase to more than 1000 jobs within the next 12 months.
As we create job opportunities for our people, we also give them the ability to live independently, send their children to school and survive the challenges of economic difficulties.
If we can do that, we can give our people not only the means to live, but the joy of living.
And so I long for the day when I can see our people not just toiling to meet the needs of the day, but as happy human beings who can share free, unhurried time with their loved ones.
That is why we must hasten and pursue the Iloilo Provincial Capitol Complex Redevelopment Project to its completion. It is my dream of a cool, quiet spot in the heart of a bustling metropolis – a paradise of peace where the soul can commune with itself and the universe even as the generators of production and prosperity hum all around it.
Nagpa-in kita kapin 400 million pesos agud patahumon ang Iloilo Provincial Capitol Complex paagi sa isa ka redevelopment plan nga magabaylo sang duag sini — halin sa Capitol grounds tubtob sa Metro Iloilo Water District Compound — sa isa ka leisure park nga aton mapabugal.
Half of the budget is allotted for land improvement and landscaping of the entire area while the other half will be for the construction of a six-story parking building at the lot vacated by the National Irrigation Administration, not far from where we are now. We will not allow our capitol grounds to indefinitely remain as a parking ground in disarray.
This ambitious project also aims to integrate the old Iloilo Provincial Jail which will become the Western Visayas Regional Museum and now nearing completion, the Museo Iloilo, and the Philippine National Red Cross building, and will entail the demolition of the Department of Tourism building and the overpass in front of it.
Ini nga proyekto aton paga-tapuson antes ako magbiya sa Kapitolyo sa Hunyo 2019.
Aside from making our provincial government employees proud of their workplace or making a major contribution to the tourism industry, this will be one of our tangible legacies to the people of the City and Province of Iloilo.
We are redeveloping today the Capitol grounds of the future. People will forget what we say about Iloilo but they will never forget what we did for Iloilo.
We have come so far because we have travelled down the road hand-in-hand together. The road stretches far ahead of us into where we could not see. But we will always get to where we want to be if we simply set our hearts on it.
Madamo gid nga salamat kag maayong hapon sa inyo tanan!