Tuesday, November 12, 2019

2nd MDO Congress recognizes Region 1 outstanding MDOs, LGUs

(Clockwise) Group pictures of MDOs from Ilocos Sur, Pangasinan, La Union and Ilocos Norte.

The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration Regional Welfare Office I gathered the Migrant Desk Officers (MDO) of Ilocos Region in the recently conducted 2nd Regional MDO Congress held September 11-13, 2019 in Baguio City.

Centered on the theme, “MDOs as Catalysts of Change towards Migration and Development”, the activity aims to convene MDOs and enlighten and further hone their knowledge on migration and development as key personnel in their respective LGUs in promoting awareness on those topics that will pave way for better opportunities in their LGUs.

The activity was divided into two activities—the seminar proper and the awards night, which highlighted the event.

Guests, visitors and  officers who graced the opening ceremonies were Dir. Rosalia Susana S. Bahia-Catapang of OWWA’s Program and Policy Development Division (PPDD); Dir. Manuela N. Pena of OWWA Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR); OIC-Director Gerardo Rimorin; and OIC-PSD Marivic L. Mondina of OWWA Region 1; and guest speaker Andrea Luisa C. Anolin of Commission on Filipinos Overseas (COF).

During the seminar proper, OWWA RWOI’s OIC-Director Gerardo C. Rimorin presented the accomplishment of OWWA Region 1 during the calendar year 2018. He made emphasis that the achievement of the office targets is a shared success with the MDOs who are dedicated and compassionate in uplifting the welfare and interest of OFWs in their LGUs.

Director Rosalia Susana S. Bahia-Catapang of PPDD discussed briefly “AmBisyon Natin 2040” along with OWWA’s direction in the present administration. The Director also talked about the creation of a new Department addressing the Overseas Filipinos, its pros and cons, and the possible scenarios once the said Department shall be created. Lastly, she shared the milestones of the agency for the past years which includes the creation of OFW e-card and OWWA Rebate Program. An open forum was held after her talk.

Meanwhile, Ms. Andrea Luisa C. Anolin of CFO tackled on the topic of “Upscaling OFW Remittances in the local level”. She also introduced CFO’s BaLinkBayan, an Overseas Filipinos’ one stop online portal. The speaker on the second day was from a Non-Government Organization (NGO) from Central Luzon called Atikha Inc. The NGO’s Program Coordinator Mr. Rommel E. Dizon had a very informative discussion on Mainstreaming Migration and Development in local level as well as Atikha’s Thrust and Initiatives on Reintegration. Considering that the Award’s Night was the highlight of the event, the MDOs were all dressed up elegantly in their Filipiniana and Barong attire. This aims to give due recognition to the MDOs for their commitment in their designation as the agency’s partner in provincial and municipal level.

Present to render inspirational messages and to award the plaques and certificates of recognition were Director Rosalia Susana S. Bahia-Catapang of PPDD representing OWWA Administrator Hans Leo J. Cacdac; DOLE Region 1 Regional Director Nathaniel V. Lacambra; OIC- Director Gerardo C. Rimorin; and OIC-PSD Marivic L. Mondina of OWWA Region 1.

Several MDOs were recognized by the OWWA for their exceptional performances and unparalleled support as the OWWA focal person in their respective LGUs.

Plaques of appreciation awarded as listed down per major program of the agency as well as recipients of major awards:

Support to Education and Training Service: Gerenerio Q. Rosales of Bayambang, Pangasinan; Liwanag D. Luna of Currimao, Ilocos Norte; Elsie F. Aguilar of San Juan, Ilocos Sur; and Annabelle J. Tatad of Agoo, La Union.

Support to Delivery of Social Benefits: Dolores S. Cortes of Ilocos Norte; Roel S. Sabado of Rosales, Pangasinan; Judy W. Liao of Candon City, Ilocos Sur; Sallybie E. Estipular of Naguilian, La Union; Chato C. Dator of La Union; Christopher L. Dioquino of Pangasinan; Elizardo D. Laureta of Pangasinan; and Abraham Loresco of Sta. Barbara, Pangasinan.

Support to Welfare Assistance Service: Roel C. Sabado of Rosales, Pangasinan; Gloria C. Fernandez of Balungao, Pangasinan; Hyacinth C. Tapiz of Tayug Pangasinan; Juvet S. Apiado of Calasiao, Pangasinan; Dolores S. Cortes of Ilocos Norte; Evelyn I. Villanueva of Marcos, Ilocos Norte; Rizaldy R. Organo of Ilocos Sur; Christopher L. Dioquino of Pangasinan; Elizardo D. Laureta of Pangasinan

Support to Reintegration Assistance Services: Gloria C. Fernandez of Balungao, Pangasinan; Hyacinth C. Tapiz of Tayug, Pangasinan; Roel C. Sabado of Rosales, Pangasinan; Juvet S. Apiado of Calasiao, Pangasinan; Gerenerio Q. Rosales of Bayambang, Pangasinan; Glenda C. Catabay of Bolinao, Pangasinan; Dolores S. Cortes of Ilocos Norte; Marvin S. Subala of Bauang, La Union; Verina P. Lopez of Pugo, La Union; Rosemarie M. Pascasio of Tagudin, Ilocos Sur; Christopher L. Dioquino of Pangasinan; Elizardo D. Laureta of Pangasinan.

Best MDO Regional Level: Roel C. Sabado of Rosales, Pangasinan.

Leadership Award: Roel C. Sabado of Rosales, Pangasinan.

Service Excellence Award: Alex F. Ferrer PESO manager, of Pangasinan.

OWWA Region 1 likewise recognized some LGUs for actively working with the OWWA in the implementation of its programs and services to member-OFWs and their families, thus contributing in the mandate to promote and protect the sector’s welfare.

Support to Welfare Assistance Services: City Government of Dagupan City, Pangasinan; Municipal Government of Bacnotan, La Union;

Innovative Services to OFW Constituents: Provincial Government of Pangasinan; Provincial Government of Ilocos Sur; Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte; Municipal Government of Tayug, Pangasinan; City Government of Dagupan City, Pangasinan; Municipal Government of Rosales, Pangasinan; Municipal Government of Naguilian, La Union; Municipal Government of Bacnotan, La Union; Municipal Government of Tagudin, Ilocos Sur; Municipal Government of Currimao, Ilocos Sur; Municipal Government of Pinili, Ilocos Norte; Municipal Government of Bacarra, Ilocos Norte; Municipal Government of Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte.

Community Organizing: Provincial Government of Pangasinan; Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte; City Government of Dagupan City, Pangasinan; Municipal Government of Bayambang, Pangasinan; Municipal Government of Cabugao, Ilocos Sur.

One-Stop-Shop Service: City Government of Alaminos City, Pangasinan; Municipal Government of Villasis, Pangasinan; Municipal Government of Natividad, Pangasinan; Municipal Government of Rosales, Pangasinan; City Government of Urdaneta City, Pangasinan; Municipal Government of Bayambang, Pangasinan; Provincial Government of Pangasinan; Municipal Government of Aringay, La Union; City Government of Candon City, Ilocos Sur.

Best Migrant Desk Office in Region 1: Provincial Government of Pangasinan.

Most Outstanding Migration and Development Governance Initiatives: Provincial Government of Pangasinan.

The Induction of Ms. Gloria C. Fernandez, MDO of Balungao, Pangasinan, as the newly installed President of the Regional MDO Council assisted by other officers also transpired before the awarding ceremony.

A total of 130 MDOs, PESO Managers and LGU officials attended the recently concluded 2nd MDO Congress in Baguio City. (OWWA)

Keon reports 1st 100 days achievements

By Dominic B. dela Cruz
Staff Reporter

Laoag City—Mayor Michael M. Keon presented his first 100 days accomplishment report as the city’s chief executive in a simple program held at the Laoag City Multi-Purpose Hall on October 14, 2019.

In his report, Mr. Keon said he is presenting what he has done in his first 100 days as mayor, with focus on his personal initiatives, plans and programs for the city.

Ineng and LaoagueƱos resiliency
With severe tropical storm “Ineng” ravaging the city and Ilocos Norte, it resulted in widespread destruction. To cope with the devastation, the Sangguniang Panlungsod immediately declared a “state of calamity” in the city. The declaration allowed the city government to mobilize the calamity fund to provide assistance to those severely affected by the severe storm.

Ineng left one casualty, identified as Ricky Manglal-lan, a resident of Brgy. Salet Bulangon, who drowned due to the strong current of the flood. Mr. Manglal-lan was hailed as a hero because of his bravery, selfless dedication and voluntary service. The victim was given financial assistance by the city government and some kind-hearted sponsors.

Evacuation centers were immediately opened for evacuees, and some schools were converted as temporary shelters to accommodate families. A total of 119 families, or 453 persons, took shelter in various evacuation centers.

The City Social Welfare and Development Office showed that there were around 9,257 families or 36,787 individuals from 70 barangays that were affected.

The City Agriculture Office reported that the value of damage to agriculture left by storm amounted to PHP6,491,338.75. The loss to the rice sector is the largest at PHP3.85 million; followed by livestock at PHP1.32 million; high-value commercial crops at PHP330,000; fishery at PHP256,000; and corn at PHP142,000. Additional damages to irrigation canals and farm-to-market roads were valued at PHP600,000.

The City Engineering Office likewise reported infrastructure damages of PHP12,352,654.88 from slope protection, cross drainages, concrete pavements and perimeter fence. The said estimate does not include the nine houses that were totally or partially damaged.

Relative to this, Senator Ma. Imelda Josefa “Imee” R. Marcos brought Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” T. Go, Agriculture Secretary William Dar, Social Welfare and Development Secretary Rolando Bautista, representatives from the Department of Health and other national and local officials to inspect the effects of the typhoon particularly in Metro Gabu and were able to distribute 709 relief goods to affected families.

After a careful evaluation in the aftermath of severe storm, officials ascertained that the flooding was due to the silting of irrigation canal and the bypass road acted as a blockage to certain tributaries and one of which is the Daorao Creek wherein the mouth of the Daorao Creek had always been clogged by sand-drift from the sea. Big-scale floodwaters caused by typhoons automatically open the mouth by flushing the sediment deposit.

Storm and waste water from the urban residential areas were mainly drained to the San Isidro Creek. The existing alignment of the creek greatly meanders upstream from the junction with the Daorao Creek.

The main causes of the inundation along the San Isidro Creek and the long flood duration in the urban area are poor capacity of the creek, narrow flow sections at bridges and culverts, and backwater effect from the Daorao Creek.

All the other creeks such as Bengan Creek, Pandan Creek, Barit Creek, Mangato Creek and San Isidro Creek converged at the Daorao Creek.

Also, in Brgy. Zamboanga, the Padsan River overflowed; “which begs the question that the Padsan River must be dredged believing that If the overflow from the Padsan River had been prevented and the mouth of the Daorao Creek had been opened, the total inundation volume would have been lessened, Mr. Keon noted”

He added that this tragedy must be addressed in the long run and asked the patience of the public for a solution soon “We must understand and inculcate in our minds that we cannot let this happen again in the future”’.

Ensuring food security through sustainable agriculture
One of the most important challenges in ensuring food security consists of increasing food production. Food security is based on sustainable agricultural production, and the rational utilization of resources plays an essential role in this process.

Upon the urgent request of the City Agriculture and Fishery Council, a calamity assistance fund of PHP2.466 million was approved to augment the losses of farmers and fisherfolks whose crops, livestock, fishing paraphernalia and equipment were severely affected and damaged during the onslaught of “Ineng”.

The said amount will be utilized for the purchase of hybrid yellow corn (PHP1.2 million), inorganic fertilizer (PHP600,000), organic fertilizer (PHP120,000), foliar fertilizer (PHP280,000), native chicken (PHP100,000), fish nets (PHP91,000), and fingerlings (PHP75,000).

Laoag City was declared by Department of Agriculture as one of the official winners in the recently concluded CY 2019 National Quality Corn Achievers Award as corn is the second most important commodity in the city with a cash prize of PHP1 million.

City agriculturist Marilyn G. Martin was also a winner in the Outstanding City Agriculturist category; Sheila Marie N. Opelac, winner in the Outstanding City Corn Coordinators; and Janet C. Paulino, winner in the Outstanding Agricultural Extension Workers. They will also be receiving cash prizes in their respective categories.

Five hundred seventy-nine farmers and fisherfolks from the 30 farming/coastal barangays of Laoag City benefited from the Capitol Express Program of the Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte held last October 2 at the Laoag City Central Terminal.

Mr. Keon also assisted Ilocos Norte Governor Matthew Joseph M. Manotoc in the distribution of different inputs and farm equipment to the recipients such as fish cages, assorted vegetable seeds, mango and calamansi seedlings, hybrid and inbred rice seeds, water pumps, electric pumps, knapsack sprayers, plastic crates, fertilizers, seed inoculants, fruit fly attractants and flares.

On September 9, 2019, the city government distributed various farm equipment such as shredder machine to Barangay Cabungaan Farmers Association, hand tractor to Brgy. Lagui-Sail Farmers Association, four-wheel tractor to Calsit Multi-Purpose Cooperative (Salet-Bulangon), hand tractor to Barangay Bacsil North Farmers Association and multi-cultivator water pump to Barangay Sta. Maria Farmers Association.

On September 4, the city government also distributed 58 piglets for dispersal to provide additional source of income to the constituents as part of the city government’s Swine Dispersal Project.

Environmental protection and management
Waste management is part of the city’s commitment to sustainability through environmental performance, protection and management.

It is the duty of the city to adopt a systematic, comprehensive and ecological sold waste management program that ensures the protection of public health and the environment through the formulation and adoption of best environmental practices.

On August 7, 2019, Mr. Keon and personnel from the City Engineering Office visited Brgy. Lagui-Sail for a firsthand look on the condition of the dumpsite and the proposed sanitary landfill in Brgy. Balatong to look at the future site of the city’s sanitary landfill.

Officials of the Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources and CENRO together with the Engineering Office went to Brgy. Lagui-Sail to asses a long-term goal of turning it into an eco-park and the need to have a waste management and segregation in the barangay level. The segregation of organic and inorganic matter, biodegradable and non-biodegradable would make it easier to dispose of the remaining waste residue.

Relative to this, the city government approved and appropriated the amount of PHP13,136,280.00 for the purchase of 67,872 square meters of land in Brgy. Balatong for the landfill.

While scrutinizing the budgets of the respective departments, Mr. Keon noticed that there was an item in the budget of the Engineering Office dealing with land wherein said item is basically for money being put aside for the continuing purchase of the land where the dumpsite in Barangay Lagui-Sail stands.

He learned that the dumpsite has a total land area of 5 hectares or 50,789 square meters, has been in use since 1998 however, the land has not been fully paid until now. Records showed that the city government only purchased 3.8 hectares or 38,092 square meters amounting to PHP949,119.08 in three installments (1998, 2001, 2007).

This means that the city government still needs to pay the remaining 1.2 hectares or 12,697 square meters amounting to PHP1,523,670.00 based on present value as appraised by the City Assessor’s Office.

The 500 square meters right of way going to the dumpsite which is equivalent to PHP95,000.00, is still unpaid up to this date. It was only in 2015 that all the owners were able to provide complete documents.

The Philippine Public School Teachers Association also asked for assistance for the payment of a certain land in Brgy. Talingaan in the amount of P12,183,465.00 which was used to build a road known as the Ventura Highway.

Upon further investigation, it was disclosed that the said portion of land, which was originally a private property, has underwent grading as a dirt road in 1992. Later, DPWH implemented the cementing of the road in 2017.

The PPSTA has been demanding the payment for the property verbally but it was only in 2018 that they forwarded a formal letter to the city government. However, upon appraisal of the City Assessor’s Office, the value of the land is only P8,347,050.00.

Promoting tourism in our modern world
Over the decades, tourism has experienced continued growth and deepening ‎diversification to become one of the fastest growing economic sectors in the world. ‎Modern tourism is closely linked to development and encompasses a growing number ‎of new destinations. These dynamics have turned tourism into a key driver for socio-‎economic progress.‎

Mr. Keon believes that there are still undiscovered potential areas in the city that need a little polishing to transform them into places of interests. This is not limited to the development of areas only pleasing to the eye

On September 1, 2019 the city of Laoag welcomed Mr. Rafael Harpaz, the Ambassador of Israel to the Philippines, and his wife, Madam Shulamit Harpaz to the city for a visit.

During their meeting, Mr. Keon laid a plan to send agriculture technicians from Laoag City and Ilocos Norte to Israel to study their advanced agriculture techniques, and eventually adapt and implement them here in the locality.

Further, he hoped that the police force would gain a great deal from studying anti-terrorism and security techniques from the Israeli armed forces to further enhance their skills and capabilities in maintaining the peace and order in the city.

For his part, the ambassador elaborated that for the first time, Israel is opening its doors for overseas workers in tourism as a result of the fast-growing tourism industry in their country. He personally experienced the hospitality, dedication and quality of service by the Ilocanos, and hopes that by the end of this year, the country will be sending the first batch of Filipinos, which includes Ilocanos, to Israel.

In line with the “Green, Green, Green” program of the national government, the city government allocated the amount of PHP6,889,986.00 for the rehabilitation and greening works at the Aurora Park, Approach of Gilbert Bridge and the Centennial Park.

The Aurora Park looked as grand as possible when the city welcomed the delegates of the 20th ATOP National Convention.

Moreover, the city government is presently formulating the city’s Tourism Development Plan inviting various stakeholders to share their ideas of how we can further boost the tourism industry in the city.

For the first time, the city of Laoag successfully hosted the Opening Parade and Welcome Dinner for the approximately 1,000 delegates of the 20th National Convention of the Association of Tourism Officers of the Philippines last October 2.

Also, for the first time in many years, the city government and the provincial government joined forces in bringing the best of what Laoag City and Ilocos Norte can offer to the guests from the different regions in the country.

The delegates were amazed with what they saw in the province and that Laoag City and Ilocos Norte have tremendous potentials, and that all the municipalities have something great to offer.

Together with Chinese Consul Zhou Youbin, both the Chinese government and the city government unveiled the new LED Wall of the City Government of Laoag last September 26, 2o19 at the Gilbert Bridge.

The LED Wall was donated by the Consulate of the People’s Republic of China in Laoag City in commemoration of their country’s 70th founding anniversary. For the frame of the LED Wall, the city government allocated the amount of PHP499,521.00 for its rehabilitation.

This new platform promotes the different programs, projects and activities as well as in promoting the different tourist destinations not just of the city but the whole province. The LED Wall will also be utilized as revenue generating tool by accepting advertisements.

Coping with the digital world
Technological advancement has entirely reshaped various organizations by making their systems and processes highly integrated, and more streamlined. Moreover, it has also facilitated these organizations in running their tasks smoothly and performing well than ever before.

Technology advances at a pace that can hardly keep up with. To stay relevant, especially when it comes to technology, means keeping up with what is trending, technology wise, in the place of work.

The city government implemented the installation of the firewall system device of the Information and Communications Technology Office on October 7, 2019. This is a major step in securing the digital assets of the city government

Laoag recognizes the vital roles of communication and information especially during and in the aftermath of man-made and natural disasters and calamities. Moreover, it is the primordial concern to have a comprehensive and effective tool of disseminating information to our constituents in alleviating and preparing for the impact of disasters and calamities.

The city has entered into a memorandum of agreement with Smart Communications, Inc. for the Infocast Broadcast services in order to immediately and widely disseminate information primarily during natural disaster and calamities.

In an effort to create more quality public spaces equipped with upgraded internet connectivity and accessible communication services, the city government partnered with Smart Communications, Inc. for the installation of unlimited free wireless fidelity (Wi-Fi) service at the Laoag City Hall, Aurora Park, Laoag City Public Market and Commercial Complex and at the Laoag International Airport.

Fiscal sustainability and infrastructure and economic development
One of the city’s main objectives is to promote and maintain financial stability because it contributes to a healthy and sustainable economic growth.

Infrastructure also plays a vital role in the improvement of standard of living. It also plays an important role in contributing to a higher rate of economic growth.

During this period, the city was able to issue 230 demand letters to various business establishments and 628 certificates of non-delinquency as a way of showing transparency in the way we do business in the city.

The proposed Annual Budget for CY 2020 was prepared after a thorough review and evaluation of the proposals of the different offices on the principle that the budget is one of the effective tools to achieving inclusive growth for the city.

The city adopted the mechanism of participatory budgeting to ensure prudent, transparent and accountable allocation and use of the public funds to improve the quality of life of every LaoagueƱo.

The proposed budget will convert into reality the city’s vision for reform and development as it allocates the proposed Programs, Projects and Activities in the Annual Investment Program of all sectors. Further, the city made sure that the budget is linked to harmonized plans and policies in order to optimize the utilization of the limited resources.

Ultimately, the city government aims to achieve its goals and objectives particularly on priority projects that focus on infrastructure, health, agriculture, tourism and sports that will empower the people of Laoag City synchronized with the city government’s thrust for a “Baro a Laoag”.

For CY 2020, the proposed Annual Budget of the City Government of Laoag including the Economic Enterprises as the basis of our appropriations for the General Fund and Economic Enterprise in the amount of PHP928,331,364.63.

Approved the appropriation of PHP9,246,006.00 from the share of RA 7171 for the construction of farm-to-market roads in 17 barangays of the city; PHP12 million for road network projects particularly in the construction of concrete pavements to 29 barangays of the city; PHP12,352,654.88 from the calamity fund for the repair and rehabilitation of various infrastructure projects which were damaged during the onslaught of “Ineng”; PHP24 million for the equal share of the 80 barangays of the city for various infrastructure projects; and PHP11,160,560.44 for other rehabilitation projects: rehabilitation of the LED Wall Frame; rehabilitation and greening works at Aurora Park, gilbert bridge and centennial park; rehabilitation of city streets—asphalt overlay; rehabilitation of the Human Resources Management Office; improvement of the CMO at LCPMCC; rehabilitation of the CVMO; rehabilitation of LCPMCC; and the rehabilitation of the Multi-Purpose Hall.

On September 24, 2019 Mr. Keon convened the City Development Council to tackle the presentation, deliberation and concurrence of the proposed CY 2020 Annual Investment Program and the CY2020 Annual Development Plan, among others. It was attended by the barangay chairmen, various civic organizations and different local special bodies.

The amount of P12hp4,333,655.69 for the CY 2020 20% Annual Development Plan of the city is already included in the proposed CY 2020 Annual Budget.

Responsive, inclusive social services
The city government of Laoag has always longed for a government that is inclusive and responsive, credible and transparent, effective and efficient, and most of all, passionate. To this effect, Mr. Keon assured everyone that the city government will always look after the needs of the people of Laoag.

Mr. Keon commended the significant role of various non-government organizations in the development of our city, improvement of communities and in promoting citizen participation.

The City Government of Laoag through the Public Employment Service Office organized a jobs fair on September 24, 2019 at the Laoag City Auditorium. Through this activity, Laoag hope to provide job seekers the opportunity to secure a stable employment.

On September 13, 2019, Mr. Keon met with several members of the Ilocos Norte Filipino Chinese Chamber of Commerce, Inc. and with Henry Chua and his two sons, Eric and Hubert, to discuss the details of their proposal to construct two school buildings with two) classrooms each.

The chosen beneficiaries are Caaoacan Elementary School and Plaridel Elementary School.

The city government also welcomed. Iain Cox, head of political and economic team of the British Embassy in the Philippines, together with Mr. Kurt Cendana, senior policy advisor, for a courtesy visit at the city hall.

Some discussions arrived was the offer of the embassy to qualified Ilocanos to apply for a Chevening Scholarship. This program offers future leaders the unique opportunity to pursue a one-year master’s degree in any subject at any United Kingdom university.

The scholarship is fully funded by the UK government which includes university tuition fees, a monthly stipend, travel costs to and from the UK, an arrival allowance, a homeward departure allowance, the cost of one visa application, and a travel grant to attend Chevening events in the UK.

Accomplishments also highlighted the following: approved a multipurpose building program of works of a core shelter in Brgy. Navotas which will benefit core shelter families; INEC problem at the core shelter in Brgy. Navotas was resolved, electricity posts were put up and gave electricity access to core shelter residents; the city government has provided a vehicle to the Office of Disability Affairs every Monday, Wednesday and Friday to check PWDs in all barangays of Laoag City; and the Stimulation and Therapeutic Activity Center of the city has been assisting kids with disabilities not just in Laoag City but from nearby towns (Paoay, Vintar, Sarrat, and others) in terms of therapy, recommending doctors, helping with diagnostic exams.

Ensuring peace, order, public safety
Peace and order are an essential element in maintaining economic development, social order and political stability. A condition of peace and order facilitates the growth of investments, generates more employment opportunities and attracts more tourists.

The Laoag City Police Station, under the new Chief of Police, P/Lt. Col. Amador B. Quiocho, is determined more than ever in maintaining peace and order in the city.

In his first 100 days, the city government were able to achieve a rating of 95% in the functionality assessment of the City Anti-Drug Abuse Council. Laoag City is among the only two LGUs in the province that achieved this rating, the highest thus far.

Further, in addition to the three non-affected barangays, and 17 barangays already cleared from drugs as certified by PDEA, Mr. Keon have already approved the submission of the list of additional 13barangays endorsed by the DILG to apply for certification from PDEA as drug-cleared.

The city government support and commitment to the thrusts of our Philippine National Police is of paramount importance to ensure peace and order and public safety to the city.

On September 26, 2019, the city formalized the donation of 1,000 square meters of lot including the existing fire station building to the Bureau of Fire Protection-Laoag City.

It was found out during verification by the City Assessor’s Office that the previous deed of donation was not dated. Further, certifications from the National Archives and the Office of the Clerk of Court of the Regional Trial Court, First Judicial Region, Laoag City where the notary public who notarized the Deed of Donation was duly commissioned revealed that the said offices have no copies of the said deed of donation in favor of the BFP.

Because of this, the BFP was unable to formally acquire the land under its name.  As a result, it did not allow them to access the national budget because they did not actually own the land upon which their office stands. That is why the BFP approached Mr. Keon to rectify the problem. With the approval of City Resolution No. 2019-009 for a new deed of donation, they can now avail of the programs of BFP including the standardizations of all fire stations nationwide where the amount of P19,469,521.43 for the construction of a new Fire Station has been allocated for the BFP in Laoag City.

On September 6, 2019, Mr. Keon presided over a dialogue with several members of business organizations, owners of business establishments, officials from the Department of Public Works and Highways and the PNP Traffic Division to resolve important issues and concerns regarding the on-going road clearing operations and the implementation of the new traffic scheme in Laoag City.

The reason in the implementation of the traffic scheme and road clearing operations is because the previous administration did not implement proper zoning laws.

“When I took the helm of the City of Laoag, I brought with me a sincere promise of change and genuine public service to the people of Laoag. Our city was beset with so many problems surrounding the Laoag City Public Market and Commercial Complex and the Laoag City General Hospital. I made a promise that I will deal with all these issues and problems, and rest assured that I will deliver. I beseech your patience because, the problems that we are facing are very serious,” Mr. Keon said.

Laoag City public market
The Laoag City Public Market and Commercial Complex is a vital economic enterprise and public utility, which contributes significantly to the income and general welfare of the city and its people. The market could be the centerpiece of the city’s effort to stimulate the city’s economy, create new jobs, provide increased livelihood and entrepreneurial opportunities, and offer marketing services and investment platforms to the citizenry.

Unfortunately, due to the inefficiency and negligence of the previous administration, the market faces numerous problems and other issues that need to be addressed immediately like the safety and security, cleanliness, logistics, administration, and integrity of collections and remittances.

As a result, Mr. Keon made an initial consultation with all the vendors and stall holders of the market and at the same he visited the market last month to conduct follow-up meeting with all the vendors and stall holders and address pressing issues and concerns.

According to Mr. Keon, the city government already started the process for the procurement of a new standby generator; hiring of additional collectors and additional maintenance and utility personnel; installation of uniform signages for every stall; purchase of new amplifiers for the PAS to cover the remaining floors of the LCPMCC for important announcements and reminders; procurement of an additional garbage truck/garbage compactor and a new refrigerated meat van; and installation of the Market Management System at LCPMCC that will manage all the transactions at the market including issuance of receipts, monitor daily collections, rentals, business taxes and other transactions pertaining to the operations of the LCPMCC.

The Laoag City General Hospital has also suffered from delay in the delivery of basic services such as drugs and medicines and laboratory services, and more importantly, the hospital suffered severely from its administration, operations and financial standing.

There are a lot of consignments that needed to be paid such as in those in the laboratory.  The consignors for the reagents/chemicals used in various laboratory services were not being paid even though patients who availed of the services paid for such. As a result of this, the LCGH suffered greatly from insufficient medical supplies and services because consignors are no longer interested in entering into a consignment agreement due to unpaid balances. As of the end of August, the total amount of unpaid balances to various suppliers is PHP63.485 million.

In addition to the unpaid balances to consignors, the hospital has also outstanding accounts payable to several suppliers and service providers for various expenditures like repairs and maintenance, gasoline, dietary and laundry, office and janitorial supplies, and purchase of other drugs and medicines amounting to PHP12,747,057.27 as of August 31 of this year;

The construction of a new building with a budget of PHP55 million for the expansion of the Emergency/Surgical Rooms and Dialysis Facility is currently put on hold pending the release of the remaining funds. The contractor has already submitted a statement of work accomplished/progress billing and corresponding request for progress payment for 80% of work accomplished;

Supply and installation of Modular Bank/Expendable Type of Medical Oxygen-Generating Machine using Pressure Swing Absorption (PSA) technology with a total production capacity of 50 to 100 tanks per day, including installation of distribution lines system worth PHP25 million. This facility was inaugurated by the previous administration in the last days of the election however, it was never utilized. The plant is not functioning because of incomplete, low class/substandard paraphernalia. Further, apart from these issues, there is no power source installed within the system. The oxygen plant needs a separate transformer to be fully operational. Moreover, it was found out during inspection that the plant still needs another funding for the installation of tubes/distribution lines that will connect the oxygen plant to the different facilities and rooms at LCGH. This facility would have been a source of revenue to LCGH because it could have supplied the oxygen needs of other hospital facilities/clinics.

A new Endoscopy Tower with Colonoscope, Gastroscope and Bronchoscope was purchased for Php13.2M. The new machine was pulled out by the supplier because there was a problem with the processor.

Low Temperature Plasma Free Sterilizer worth PHP8 million. This machine is not functioning and was never utilized because nobody was instructed on how the machine functions, and nobody was taught how to operate the machine. Further, the machine cannot stay in the operating room and needs a separate enclosure because it functions on gas. It emits toxic fumes that might cause the machine to explode;

The existing CT Scan at LCGH is not functioning. The CT Scan was purchased through a loan from DBP amounting to Php75M from Demetron, Inc., the sole supplier. However, upon further investigation, Philips, the exclusive distributor of the equipment, disclosed that they have no records of selling any CT Scan for LCGH. Because of this, there was a suspicion that the CT Scan was not brand new.

As a result, officials conducted a complete inventory of medical equipment, supplies and fixtures in order to reconcile the inventory on record versus actual physical inventory in all units and sections at LCGH; to identify equipment that are unserviceable for condemnation; to identify equipment that are new but were never utilized and inappropriate for use in the hospital; and to identify equipment that were donated by DOH;

Empowering barangays in nation-building
Nation-building begins in the community.

Mr. Keon believes that the progress of the city can only be realized by first attaining progress and development in the barangays—the smallest political units of the government.

Together with Jerico Peralta, the provincial government barangay affairs officer, the city distributed bags of cement to some barangays of Laoag City on September 18, 2019. This activity is a joint undertaking of the Laoag City and the Ilocos Norte governments through Ilocos Norte Governor Matthew Joseph M. Manotoc as part of the commitment of then-Ilocos Norte Governor, now Sen. Ma. Imelda Josefa “Imee” R. Marcos, for various developmental projects and improvements of the different barangays.

As part of the clean and green program of the city government, Mr. Keon personally led the distribution of paints for the beautification of the different barangays on August 23, 2019. “It is my aim to bring back the cleanliness and beauty of this great city,” the new mayor said.

Isubli tayo iti dati nga raniag ken rimat iti Sunshine City Laoag!” he added.

Good governance, administration
At the onset of his first 100 days in office, he created the Laoag City Inventory Team with the primary function to visit all offices to conduct inventory on all properties and equipment owned by the city government. The team was composed of staff from the City Mayor’s Office, City Vice Mayor’s Office, City Engineering Office and the General Services Office.

He commended the Sangguniang Panlungsod of the City of Laoag headed by Laoag Vice Mayor Vicentito Lazo for their full support and cooperation to the thrusts and programs of the city government through the passage of important measures, ordinances and resolutions, all for the benefit of the people of Laoag.

He underscored his leadership and management style, and how he approached things and situations in life were influenced by my upbringing.

He said that he is not the type of leader who is personal and I strongly negate the Filipino culture of practicing “who you know and not what you know” in government service. His philosophy and approach to public administration is solely based on merit and competence.

There are people here who I don’t necessary like however, be that as it may, the most important thing is that, you, whether you are a department head or ordinary employee, how I assess you is based on work, and work alone, nothing more. I do not assess anyone based on their past relationships with anyone in the city. What I care about is how a person works and serves the interests of the city. That is my benchmark in judging you. The most important thing is to never get personal with people regardless of what happens and what a person does”, he noted

After his first 100 days, he stated on the record that “by and large” he had “a good working relationship with all the department heads of the city government, and that he was happy and pleased with all the way in which he dealt with the various departments in the city hall, and the way everything is being accomplished”.

According to him, he was not sure about the loyalty of the employees in the city. He gave them time, and that’s why time is so important. Through the passage of time, things unfold. He became aware of the various situation and eventually he was enlightened.

His new set of leaders and workers in government are prepared to make sacrifices for the people of this great city. This passion for selfless dedication coupled with enthusiasm is the driving force of his administration in pursuing his promises in making Laoag City truly a “government of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

Mr. Keon identified them as city administrator Atty. Roxanne Lee I. Castro; city legal officer Atty. Josephus R. Nerez; chief of police P/Lt. Col. Amador B. Quiocho; city accountant Ferdinand A. Quiroga; city budget officer Nelda C. Casas; planning officer Ruby Rose R. Bunalade; CSWDO Perlita B. Cabello; LCGH Administrator Dr. Eliezer John P. Asuncion; Ana Carmela V. Remigio and Julie Ann M. Quiroga who have been helping out in the supervision and administration of the City Tourism Office and Laoag City Public Market and Commercial Complex, respectively.

Ilocos Norte SHS scholars get stipend

Laoag City—1,000 senior high school (SHS) scholars, accompanied by their parents and guardians, filled the Ilocos Norte Centennial Arena in this city as they received their three-month’s worth of stipend from the Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte, on September 16, 2019. 

Ilocos Norte Governor Matthew Marcos-Manotoc led the distribution and was facilitated by the Provincial Education Department. Alongside Mr. Marcos-Manotoc were Sangguniang Panlalawigan members Atty. Saul Lazo, Atty. Donald Nicolas, and Sangguniang Kabataan Federated President Rafael Medina.

Alam po natin kung gaano ka-importante ang support system sa isang estudyante. Rest assured that along with our Chairman on Committee on Education, pag-aaralan po namin nang mabuti kung paano pa i-expand ang provincial scholarship na ito. For now, I like to congratulate all our scholars as well as their parents and guardians for being part of this program,” Mr. Marcos-Manotoc remarked. 

Now on its second year, the SHS scholarship srogram is a legislation authored by Mr. Marcos-Manotoc, who was then a provincial board member. It is one of the scholarship grants integrated in the Provincial Ordinance 049-2018, also known as the Sirib Scholarship Program.

SHS Scholarship is a ‘blessing’
“Blessing sa amin itong programa. Ito ang naging daan upang mapabuti pa ang aming pag-aaral,” Joash Duldulao, a Grade 12 student from Solsona National High School, shared.

Beyond monetary assistance, the aspiring information technology specialist lauded the SHS Scholarship for engaging the youth in different provincial programs and activities.

Hindi lang financial aspect ang binibigay ng gobyerno sa amin kung ‘di nai-involve rin kami sa mga community services at iba pang programa. Bukod pa roon, natuto ako ng time management.”

He further explained: “Malaking tulong itong scholarship upang matulungan ko ang aking mga magulang sa pagpapa-aral sa akin. Sa kahirapan ng buhay ngayon, kailangan talaga ng mga mag-aaral ng suporta lalong-lalo na sa financial.”

PGIN to open medical scholarship soon
During the distribution of stipend, Mr. Marcos-Manotoc mentioned that the provincial government is finalizing the “doctor’s scholarship,” that will provide financial assistance to aspiring medical doctors. Afterwards, the scholars will render “return service” to the provincial and district hospitals.

Kulang na kulang tayo ng mga doctor dito sa Ilocos Norte kaya naman gagawa tayo ng scholarship para sa kanila.” (Blessing Angel V. Agliam)

Passenger power

Admitirenda man wenno saan, adu dagiti pulitiko ti mabutbuteng la unay iti makunkuna a “tricycle power” wenno “tricycle vote”.

Dakkel ti bilang dagiti tricycle-fo- hire iti agdama. Ket no i-multiplymo pay dayta iti bilang dagiti kamkameng ti pamilyada, posible a dakkel ti epektona iti botos ti kada kandidato.
Isu a saan a nakaskasdaaw a manmano dagiti opisial a mangayat a mangsagid iti issue ti traysikelan—lisianda wenno agpamemmemda iti dayta a topiko.

Madlawan nga uray nagadun dagiti reklamo seknan kadagiti abusado a tricycle driver, dandani awan ti mangngegam manipud kadagiti agpanpanday-linteg. Masansan, dagiti laeng “playing safe statement” ti maituredda nga iyebkas.

Isu a dagiti pada a pasahero ti kakaasi. Piman ta uray inaldawda nga agreklamo iti traffic division ken agikkis iti social media, awan ti pagbalbaliwan dagiti bulok a traysikelan, fuera delos buenos.

Ngamin, tapno madisiplinaan dagitoy, masapul nga ikkan koma dagiti local legislators ti natibtibker a ngipen dagiti paglintegan seknan ti tricycle operation. Ngamin, no agtalinaed a rukapi dagiti pagannurutan, agtultuloy ti pannakabikbiktima dagiti kakaasi a pasahero.

Ngem ana ngarud ket kaamakda met ti “tricycle power”—kinapon idan ti buteng a bumaba ti botosda iti sumaruno a panagpipili.

Ania ti mabalin nga aramidentayo a pasahero? No pekpekkelen dagiti traysikelan dagiti narway a pulitiko babaen iti panangiparangarangda ti bilegda, masapul nga ipakitatay met nga adda bilegtayo a pasahero.

Amang nga ad-adu ti bilangtayo a pasahero no maikumperar kadagiti tricycle drivers! Ket no i-multiplytay met ti bilangtayo iti bilang dagiti kamkameng ti pamilyatayo, malmes ti pagkarkaritda a “tricycle power”.

Iparupatayo kadagiti pulitiko a no saanda a protektaran dagiti kalintegan ken kasapulan dagiti pasahero, mabalin a maramanandanto ti maso ti “passenger power”.

Ala, saantay met ketdi a kumarkarit. Ipalpalagiptay laeng a panawenen a maisardeng ti pannakaisaksakripisio dagiti pada a pasahero.

BARD NOTES: Happy bard-reading to Badoc ABC President Virgilio Calajate, Ilocos Norte Provincial Treasurer Josephine P. Calajate, INEC President Enrico Ruiz, INEC Director Joseph Vergel P. Calajate, Provincial Agrarian Reform Program Officer II Vic M. Ines, DAR Chief Administrative Officer Rudy Acacio, Ms. Genedine Domingo Jambaro and PNB Pasuquin Branch Manager Metty V. Guerrero.

Greetings also to the employees of JVC Consortium, AMA Laoag, Ilocos Norte Regional School of Fisheries, Laoag City PNP, DAR Ilocos Norte, DepEd Laoag, DepEd Ilocos Norte and PNB Pasuquin.

Ilocos Norte typhoon victims get rice aid from Japan

By Leilanie G. Adriano
Staff Reporter

LAOAG CITY—Ilocos Norte residents who were heavily devastated by typhoon Ineng will get rice aid courtesy of the Japanese government.

On October 4, 2019, a portion of the 16,667 bags of emergency rice assistance was distributed to typhoon victims in Bacarra, Ilocos Norte.

“The rice assistance is being extended to victims of typhoon Ineng covering two (2) cities and five (5) towns of the province,” said Corazon Lilian Celia Rin, head of the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office in an interview.

According to Ms. Rin, the emergency rice assistance came from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries-Japan through the ASEAN Plus Three Rice Reserve which were coursed through to the Philippine government’s National Food Authority and Department of Social Welfare and Development.

APTERR is a regional cooperation established in 2004 to ensure food security in an emergency caused by temporary and large-scale calamities.

Ms. Rin said at least one cavan at 30 kilograms each will be distributed to the 1,279 beneficiaries pre-identified by the social welfare office.

On behalf of the beneficiaries, Ms. Rin expressed gratitude to the Japanese government for their rice assistance to typhoon victims in the province.