ILOILO – Since his return as governor three years ago, Hon. Arthur Defensor Sr. declared victory in restoring public’s trust through “reform and change” during his 5th State of the Province Address on Tuesday.
“We have succeeded in cleansing our system of waste, dishonesty, abuse and fraud, and restored the faith and confidence of our people in the Iloilo Provincial Government,” declared Defensor before the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.
The governor, who has long been recognized as champion of good governance, also pointed out that his battle cry for “Reform and Change” does not only refer to honest and transparent governance.
It is also tantamount to “competence, efficiency, effectiveness, and dedication to service” that continuously driving Iloilo in the forefront of genuine development like where it is today, he said.G
To put further flesh to his statements, Defensor enumerated the most significant gains of his mantra for the last eight months starting with the effective “no-kickback-policy” in province’s procurement process.
Due to public and competitive bidding, Defensor said they were able to save millions of pesos and buy more equipment using the savings.
This was what happened to P108-million appropriation for the procurement of heavy equipment in 2011 wherein P35-million of the funds were saved, he said.
The budget was for ten dump trucks, two motor graders, a fuel truck and one prime mover.
But since there were savings, the money went far and additional backhoe, grader and bulldozer were bought at lowest bid price of P6.38-million, P10-million, and P850,000, respectively.
All in all, Defensor said there is still more than P2-million left from the P35-million savings and these funds will be used to buy additional vehicles for Provincial Agriculture’s Office.
“Isa lamang ini ka halimbawa kung paano naton maamligan ang kwarta sang mga pumuluyo paagi sa matinlo kag hayag nga transaksyon. (This is just one of the examples of how we protect people’s money through clean and transparent bidding),” he said.
In so far as health is concerned, Defensor said the government of South Korea, through the Korea International Cooperation Agency, is investing US$7-milion or P322-million to improve the delivery of basic health services in three remote hospitals here.
The project dubbed as “Iloilo Geographically-Isolated and Disadvantaged Area Health System Strengthening Project” will benefit the hospitals of Aleosan District Hospital in Alimodian, Jesus Colmenares Memorial District Hospital in Balasan, and Don Ricardo Provido Memorial District Hospital in Calinog.
The project will also improve the quality of maternal healthcare services of rural health units in the municipalities of Alimodian, Leon, San Miguel, Calinog, Bingawan, Batad, Estancia and Carles.
Defensor and the representative of KOICA have signed the Minutes of the Meeting to its effect two months ago and the document is currently pending for review in the Department of Finance and Embassy of Korea.
Once reviewed, Defensor and the Ambassador of Korea and Secretary of Health will sign the Records of Discussion that will serve as memorandum of agreement for the implementation of the project.
Defensor said they are eyeing the construction of new health facilities in three mentioned remote hospitals by March 2014.
Meanwhile, the Department of Health also allotted P23 million for the expansion of the Iloilo Provincial Hospital in Pototan and another P24 million for the Representative Pedro Trono Memorial District Hospital in Guimbal.
The DOH’s hospital enhancement program also includes infrastructure and equipment upgrading for 44 Rural Health Units (RHUs) and 57 Barangay Health Stations (BHS) in the Province of Iloilo.
Since in 2010 up to 2012, Defensor said the province’s total investments in its hospitals reached P228.5 million, with P154.8 million spent on infrastructure and P73.6 million used to buy new equipment.
The province also bought nine ambulances worth P11.2-million, four x-ray machines worth P14.2-million, and six anesthesia machines worth P10.5-million, he said.
The province also allocated P700-million to develop the Iloilo Provincial Hospital in Pototan and 11 other district hospitals under its “Hospital Efficiency Assurance for Reform and Transformation Program”.
To improve the province’s agri-industry, Defensor also thanked the support of KOICA by establishing a state-of-the-art Rice Processing Complex in Barangay Amamaros in Pototan town, which was inaugurated only last year.
“I am happy report to you and to our Korean friends that just after one year of operation, the facility realized a net gain of P2.1 million – making it the only rice processing complex in the country, out of the four that KOICA helped establish, to report a net gain,” he said.
Defensor said he also requested the help of Department of Agriculture to concrete the access road going to the complex and such is presently in the pipeline.
“We are doing this to further improve our performance in the area of food sufficiency, where we have posted a steady increase of five percent in rice production from 2009 to 2012, making Iloilo the fourth top rice producing province in the country,” he said.
Defensor also reported that the province partnered with Department of Agrarian Reform in implementing the P287-million worth of farm-to-market roads and P21.5-million for small-scale irrigation projects of DA.
In another partnership initiative, Iloilo is also blessed by DA with 119 units of farm machineries worth P29.7-million.
Among these machineries are four-wheel drive tractors, rice combine harvester, walking-type rice transplanter, hand tractors benefiting associations of 35,770 farmers in the province.
DA will likewise implement US$672-million Philippine Rural Development Project, a project that will provide farmers the access to technology and support services, in the province.
Under this program, the province commits to provide ten percent equity while the national government would provide for the rest.
Additional Foreign Aid
Aside from South Korea, Defensor said provincial government also worked closely with the Canadian International Development Agency that helped them establish the Northern Iloilo Growth Corridor.
Such project is the first step to promote eco-tourism in northern Iloilo covering the fourth and fifth districts. CIDA is also assisting the province in terms of their environmental management and local economic development programs.
Defensor also acknowledged the support of Japan International Cooperation Agency that helped them revive the wealth of Banate Bay and build the training facility for coastal resource management in the town.
The province also established linkages with the German Technical Cooperation for programs on environmental management, and with the Australian Agency for International Development for capacity building in development planning.
Moreover, CIDA and the Spanish Agency for International Development are both helping the province in its gender and development initiatives.
Through this support, Defensor said Philippine Commission on Women recently conferred to the province the title as the “Most Outstanding Local Government Unit in Women Economic Empowerment Governance”.
Under his administration, Defensor said the province also invested some P300 million in small infrastructure projects such as day care centers, small irrigation projects, electrification, and drainage systems.
The province also established potable water systems in 184 barangays covering 6,592 households with the total project cost of P38 million.
A total of P74.5-million is also used to repair and rehabilitated various school buildings and other school facilities and increased the number of its scholars from 75 to 85 scholars per year.
Twelve school-based multi-purpose teen centers have also been established and three more are soon to open in the province. The project worth P300,000 each serves as venues for adolescent health and youth development activities.
“Every centavo we spend on education is money invested for the future. Our scholars have always done us proud, many of them presenting us with hard-earned and well-deserved academic honors year after year after year,” he said.
Lastly, Defensor said the province was also successful in its reforestation efforts by planting 1-million trees under the Action for Re-greening and Transformation Program.
In 2011, the province planted 1.4 million trees which 64.5 percent survived. Last year, it planted 1.6 million trees with 60.7 percent survival rate while this year, the province aims to plant 1.5 million trees.
“But planting trees is not enough. We need to accept the reality that climate change is now a reality that is here to stay and we need to adapt to it for us to survive,” he said. (Jezza A. Nepomoceno/Capitol News)