NAGA CITY --- Before a crowd of barangay officials and representatives of various sectors, and the constituents, Mayor John G. Bongat yesterday (June 19), delivered his last and final State of the City report.
Expressing huge gratitude to his fellow officials and workers at city hall and the people of Naga who supported him unequivocally during his 9-year term as city mayor, Bongat will finally step down on June 30, this year.
Bongat, elected mayor in 2010, is the 8th mayor of the chartered city of Naga, with Leon SA. Aureus who assumed the seat on December 15, 1948 as the first.
The State of the City report recapped the 9-year performance of Mayor John Bongat and Team Naga and reviewed their accomplishments against the commitment made to the people of Naga.
Bongat and Team Naga laid down a definitive development agenda that guided city governance during his three 3-year term: Health & Nutrition; Housing and Urban Poor; Education, Arts, Culture & Sports Development; Livelihood, Employment & Human development; Peace & Order and Public Safety’ Cleanliness & Environment Protection, and; Transparency, Accountability & Good Governance.
Following are the highlights of the city mayor’s report:
On Health and Nutrition: Over the past 9 years, the city hall allocated P876M for providing quality and affordable health and nutrition services for the people, especially the poor, with annual budget going up from.P46M in 2010 to P153M this year.
The Our Lady of Lourdes Infirmary was established in 2013 to service the upland barangays of Panicuason, Carolina, Pacol, San Isidro, and Cararayan. Towards the end of his term, the city is set to establish a much bigger and more modern Naga City Hospital and a City Health Extension Office along Almeda Highway to serve the Concepcion-Del Rosario-Triangulo-Mabolo cluster.
Housing & Urban Poor. In 2010, the city’s Kaantabay sa Kauswagan program had 9,191 family-beneficiaries in 53 sites. As of May 2019, this has grown to 10,146 beneficiaries in 73 sites. He admitted that while housing construction at 3.7% growth annually in 2010 already outstrips the 2.3% population growth in Naga, securing housing tenure for the poor remains to be a challenge, especially for the coming administration.
A project for informal settlers beside the Balatas dumpsite provides for both land and housing, but this time, on a usufruct basis to prevent unauthorized transfer of rights by beneficiaries, providing 40 houses for 40 families, in partnership with Gawad Kalinga.
Education, Arts, Culture, Sports Development: Thru innovations and the largest chunk of the city’s annual budget at 13%, the city government was able to provide widespread pre-school education facilities (76 EduCare centers, 83 accredited teachers, and from 2010 attended to nearly 27,000 pre-schoolers.
Students in city’s schools division ranked Number 1 among all divisions in Bicol in 2018 National Achievement Test, in both elementary and high school levels, the highest ranking of DepEd Naga in many years.
Despite having a smaller pool of student-athletes to choose from compared to other school divisions, Naga was Palarong Bicol overall champion in 2016. Since then, it kept its position among the Top 3 out of the 13 school divisions. This is aside from the awards received from varied national and international competitions.
Livelihood,Employment. While the city sought to move its economy by building on its traditional strength as the trade, finance and education center of Bicol, it also focused on using Naga’s other competitive advantages to develop new industries. It welcomed global locator in the Information Technology and Business Process Management Industry with the likes of IBM, Concentrix, Stellar and Quantrics. These are now the city’s biggest employers – hiring hundreds to thousands of workers each and offering salaries higher than other existing industries.
The number of accommodation establishments (i.e. hotels, inns) jumped from 34 in 2010 to 86 in 2019, with the number of rooms gropwing from 1,169 to 2,829.
Naga has been ranking high in Economic Dynamism, one of the pillars of National Competitive Council’s Competitiveness Index.
Peace and Order and Public Safety. Naga uses technology to fight or deter crime and enable a more efficient emergency response. The mayor launched ASAP (Alisto Serbisyo Mobile App) that serves as rapid emergency response platform using mobile,Web, IP telephony and GPS technologies to connect and integrate response systems of the PSO, the city government hospitals and emnergency medical service crews, PNP and BFP. Like Grab, ASDAP’s mobile front-end has a mapping system that shows citizens where emergency responders are and give responders exact information on location of emergencies.
Cleanliness and Environment Protection. After 50 years of operation, the 3.5 has. Balatas Dumpsite as promised by Team Naga will finally be closed at the end of Mayor Bongat’s term. Partial closure was began in 2018. There will be complete closure of the dumpsite with the operation of the San Isidro Landfill by the second half of this year. Despite challenges posed by Balatas dumpsite, visitors generally comment that Naga remains to be a clean city. City streets are swept regularly and kept clean within hour after major events, such as the Penafrancia fiesta.
The Naga River has shown significant improvements in water quality from 2010 to 2019. Under Bongat’s watch, a total of 67,000 pili trees have been planted since 2011. About 70 hectares of Mt. Isarog have also been reforested as part of the city’s sustained tree-planting program.
Transparency, Accountability and Good Governance. Mayor Bongat and Team Naga have solidified the city’s reputation as model of good governancxe. From 2011, Naga received more than 120 international, national, and regional recognitions, making it once again, one of the most-awarded cities in the Philippines.
For his part, Mayor Bongat received recognitions from national and international organizations for exemplary local governance, effective use of communications as a strategy to attain organization goals, and as a Sustainable Development Goals champion for Southeast Asia.
Prudent fiscal management has led Naga top become one of the country’s billionaire cities, and the first such city in Bicol. Since 2017, the city’s revenues surpassed its P1B mark, with collection growing at an average of 22% yearly from 2010. More importantly, in contrast to most local government units, the revenues did not come largely from the national government’s Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA). And local revenues do not come from taxes alone. The city’s local economic enterprises are earning for the city, too.
The Naga City People’s Mall, with barely enough to sustain operation in 2010 with only P27M is now one of the largest contributors to locally-generated funds with P59M revenues in 2018 alone.
The Bicol Central Station, or the bus terminal, despite the lowering of fees and offering better services, made P30M in net income over the P50M gross revenues in 2018. Before, while it was privately operated, the city earned only P16M as lease payment by the private operator.