STATE OF CITY REPORT: Bongat: Faith in Nagueños, more triumphs
By Jason B. Neola NAGA CITY --- Stressing his faith in Nagueños that he said never wanes in spirit to bring out the best in Team Naga, Mayor John G. Bongat asked his constituents to continue to join him in the journey towards his third and final term in office. First elected to the post in 2010, Bongat, whose term as city mayor here will end in 2019, asked before the jampacked People’s Mall on Tuesday, June 13, 2017, for the public’s all-out support to his administration: “In this last term of mine, I appeal to you to give it your all. “Itao na nindo an gabos na suporta asin tiwala na hinahagad ko para sa padagos na marikas na pag-uswag kan satuyang ciudad.” The mayor recounted the days when he was city councilor in 2001 up to the time he was elected city mayor. He said he did his best during those days because he believes that his constituents deserve no less. “You have proven to be Team Naga’s reliable partners through the years, never waning in support to bring out the best in us. My first and second terms have been a sweep in our favor, phenomenal as it has been, the so-called Ubos kun ubos, Gabos kun gabos,” he said. “And in the last elections, last May 2016, you stood your ground. You have proven time and again your worth as our reliable partners in governance. What reason do I and my team to lose faith in you, my fellow Nagueños and Nagueñas?” he asked the crowd, which consists mainly of community leaders, businessmen, supporters and representatives from different sectors. The mayor concluded his state of the city report by assuring his people of his faith in them, and that he prays that they, in turn, put theirs in him to be able to lead Team Naga to even greater heights. “For in the end, it’s never about the leader nor the people but how you and I have worked and will continue to work together as a team towards a shared future, brighter than before, and happiness, more felt than even before,” he said. A video presentation then summarized Team Naga’s achievements over the last seven years under his leadership: Health and nutrition Over the years, the city government was able to pursue key innovative programs that aim to make quality health and nutrition services more accessible to the people in the barangays. With Executive Order 2011-034 that creates the Naga City Integrated Health and Development Approach (IHANDA) program, the LGU was able to enhance its health and nutrition programs by integrating the barangay services, manpower, logistics, and training while the campaign to eliminate mosquitoes’ breeding grounds has achieved significant results in the city’s 27 barangays because of the regular holding of no-nonsense house-to-house search and destroy operations with the Barangay Health Workers (BHWs) at the forefront. This community-driven thrust is mandated by EO 2012-018. Next is the establishment of birthing facilities at the barangay level that began in 2015. These lying-in centers help in ensuring safe maternal deliveries by giving pregnant women access to professional care and the prevention of infant and maternal morbidity and mortality. Bongat also issued EO 2014-025 which created the Community-based Rehabilitation Services (CBRS) program to be able to provide the residents with rehabilitation services at the barangay level through trained BHWs. The construction of the Our Lady of Lourdes Infirmary in Barangay Carolina is also among the significant achievements of the city government that provides immediate medical attention to patients in upper barangays. This facility de-loads the Naga City Hospital of huge number of patients. Housing and Urban Poor Because of the city’s robust economy, property development, especially in the vibrant housing sector, continues to be one of the main drivers of local economic growth. Applause came from the crowd when Bongat said that housing construction in the city grew by 3.7% annually over the last 10 years, faster than the 2.3% annual growth in the city’s population. The city mayor added that his administration continues to ensure that the less well-off segment of the household population is not left behind. He said that remarkable feat was achieved because of the city’s key approaches and strong partnerships with stakeholders like the Kaantabay sa Kauswagan (KsK) program and the Naga City Development and Housing Board (NCDHB). KsK beneficiaries have grown to more than 9,000 in 2015, which represents 23% of the 40,500 estimated total number of households. The figure is more than twice the 4,000 households originally targeted for coverage since its inception in 1989. The city still needs to address more than 5,000 pending applications due to population growth largely driven by migration. Another initiative that can address the needs of the Least Economically Resilient Communities (LERCS), not only in terms of housing, is the Ginhawang Nagueño program (created under EO 2014-094). The program is holistic in nature in addressing sanitation, education, health and nutrition, and livelihood needs. It now covers 25 communities in 14 barangays with 800 families belonging to the poorest of the poor. Education, Arts, Culture and Sports The city’s being a center of education was further boosted not only in terms of providing quality education from preschool to graduate courses. In 2016, educational institutions, including city and barangay-operated SEED Montessori and Educare centers which provide preschool training, have reached 283, which is 56% higher than it was seven years ago when Bongat first became Mayor in 2010. In anticipation of the city’s growing school-age population and the introduction of senior high school in the new curriculum, the private sector grew by 75% and the public sector by 45%. Bongat also reported that the participation rates in preschool, elementary and secondary are higher by 16%, 34%, and 51%, respectively, when compared to the projected school-age population. He said that the challenging part is to make sure that no school children in the city are deprived of their rightful place in the system. “With DepEd-Naga, the Naga City School Board, barangay officials, parents and other stakeholders working together and the tools to make it happen, like the QUEEN/Sanggawadan, eSkwela/Barangay Literacy Worker, the city scholarship programs, and the DepEd’s Alternative Learning System, we will be able to overcome it.” Bongat’s administration also pursued the establishment of Del Rosario National High School as endorsed by SP Resolution 2017-188, which is now operational with 79 enrollees. The LGU-run City College of Naga, which offers BS Midwifery and technical vocational courses, is now expanding into relevant academic programs like office administration and public administration. Livelihood, Employment, Business and Human Dev’t Naga, now being regarded a Next Wave City has approximately 5,000 people in the IT-BPM industry composed of multi-national firms like IBM, Concentrix, and Stellar, and small local enterprises. The bright prospect in this industry goes alongside with that of the business sector to which the growing number of business establishments rose to 7,510, as of the end of 2016. The figure is 38% higher than the 5,459 firms registered in 2011 and 86% higher than the 4,025 firms registered in 2000. The tourism industry is surging as the city hit the one million mark in terms of tourist arrivals in 2015. In 2016, the number grew to 1.2 million. It can also be observed that the city has achieved a robust 248% growth in the number of accommodation establishments from 21 in 2011 to 73 in 2016 with average occupancy rates of more than 60%. “New resorts are being set up in Naga’s East Highland Tourism Zone. Within the year, we will also see a PEZA-registered industrial eco-zone manufacturing engineered products for exports rising up in our upland barangays,” the mayor said. Last May 11, this year, the city government received a special award from The Manila Times for economic vitality, courtesy of the outstanding performance in terms of income by the Naga City People’s Mall which generated P55-M in total revenues in 2016. Together with the Bicol Central Station, that has been transformed into a clean and orderly public transport terminal, the biggest of its kind and most profitable in the entire Bicol Region, with more than P45M in revenues in the same year. Peace and order and public safety Protective services in the city are further enhanced by the presence of 26 volunteers and 50 police aides hired by the LGU through its Public Safety Office. Upon the designation of PSSupt. Julius Muñez as city director of the Naga City Police Office, the morale and performance of police personnel have significantly improved and paved the way for a more effective and functional partnership between the city government and the PNP. The good working relationship between the LGU and the police has led to significant achievements like the 25% decrease in index crime volume – from 2,497 from July 2015 to July 2016 to 1,875 from July 2016 to date. This can be attributed to the successful anti-drug campaign which complements President Duterte’s initiatives. The city government’s Salvar Buhay program handles the voluntary submission of 3,545 drug personalities. Led by the city government’s Naga City Dangerous Drugs Board and the PNP, the program is a comprehensive, people-centered, community-driven effort towards reintegration of drug personalities into mainstream of society, effectively complementing the Oplan Double Barrel of the PNP. Other highlights: • 407 anti-drug arrests undertaken by law enforcers from July 1, 2016 to date. • Issuance of EO 2016-008 establishing the Naga City Anti-Drugs Task Force (CATFORCE) that functions as coordinating mechanism for the various enforcement agencies in the city. • In partnership with the DOH, the city government was able to intensify early intervention, rehabilitation, and after care services. • The LGU is partnering with the Camarines Sur Treatment and Rehabilitation Center in San Fernando in the LIFE Counselling Center, an out-patient counselling facility for drug dependents and their relatives. • 15 barangays in the city have been declared by PDEA as cleared of drug menace. Cleanliness and environmental protection • EO 2012-013 created the Flood Management Board through which the city government’s initiative for flood management approach was institutionalized. • EO 2012-014 created the Natural Waterways Management Council which carried-out the development of storm drainages and facilitated an enhanced waterways monitoring approach of Mt. Isarog buffer zone areas. • Along with the Technical Assistance 8493 of the Climate Change Commission: The Climate Resilience and Green Growth funded by ADB has earmarked the enhanced planning and climate change programs of the city. • The implementation of the Integrated Naga River Revitalization Project (iNRRP) is continued. • While the Septage Management Project of the Metro Naga Water District is in full swing, the city can look forward to improved water quality indicators for the 15-km river system, which has been designated by DENR as a Water Quality Management Area (WQMA) Thus, the city developed the “Bokashi Ball Production” project to produce bio-enzymes that will be applied to the riverine for their revival. Transparency, accountability, people empowerment and good governance • According to Bureau of Local Government Finance, Naga remains No. 1 among Bicol cities in terms of total operating income and local revenue sources. • In 2016, Naga joined the Billionaires’ Club, having earned a total of P1.1 billion in total operating income, with only 47% dependency on IRA • LGU-Naga is the first Philippine LGU to have embarked on a 30-year Sustainable Urban Development Plan, consistent with the Ambisyon Natin 2014 long Term Vision launched by the national government through the NEDA. • Naga has been the country’s most competitive component city for the last 2 years.