BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
Amidst COVID-19 pandemic and natural calamities, Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson yesterday declared it did not hinder the delivery of basic services and programs, as dictated by law and the Abanse Negrense development agenda.
Lacson noted that year 2021 started with the flooding of northern Negros and ended with typhoon Odette that devastated southern Negros, which took place while the provincial government is battling a pandemic.
But he said that the provincial government, as represented by the different offices and departments, carried on and persevered.
In his speech after the Thanksgiving and New Year’s mass at the Provincial Capitol Social Hall in Bacolod City, Lacson yesterday recognized the contribution of the different Capitol departments and offices in addressing situations that confronted the province last year.
Despite the previous year’s precariousness, Lacson reported that the provincial government had one international award, seven national awards and 18 regional awards, which described as a remarkable achievement.
Beyond the awards, our winning programs and projects are now models of good governance, worthy of emulation, he stressed.
Amidst the pandemic, Lacson said that Provincial Veterinary Office received an exemplary accomplishment from the Department of Agriculture – Western Visayas in the implementation of African Swine Fever prevention initiatives, as Negros Occidental ranked number one in swine, caravan, goat, broiler and layer production all over the region.
He also said that Negros Occidental still managed to have 87.78 percent of rice sufficiency level, despite of various calamities that struck the province, where it incurred P860.4 million loses for rice alone.
Six months after the takeover of operation and management of the Negros First Cyber Center, Lacson reported that Province’s gross receipts amounted to P32.3 million, or 97 percent efficiency rate in lease rentals, for the period from July 1 to December 16 last year, with the total income of the Economic Enterprise Development Department reaching P114.7 million.
The Provincial Health Office continues to strengthen the province’s capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to the threat posed by COVID-19 and reinforces the systems for public health preparedness, with more than 1.1 million individuals having received at least one dose of vaccination or 60.37% of the target population, while more than 700,000 were already fully vaccinated.
Another molecular laboratory was established at Valladolid District Hospital, through a Public-Private Partnership between the Province of Negros Occidental and Safeguard Diagnostic, that also hastened the facilitation of COVID-19 RT-PCR testing and releasing of test results, Lacson said.
To further strengthen its COVID-19 response, the provincial government has allotted P64.55 million for the upgrading of the equipment and facilities of all district hospitals.
The Disaster Management Program Division has funded P48 million worth of projects to strengthen preparedness and response for COVID-19, hospital support program, and support to Emergency 911 and Command Center.
The province of Negros Occidental was named one of the top ten winners in the 2021 Galing Pook Awards for its Network Alliances for Coastal Wetlands Conservation.
On tourism development, the Negros Occidental Culture Hub Circuit Tour was launched to showcase a one-circuit tour that promotes the culture, heritage, trade and industry, and investment potentials of the province.
Despite the pandemic, Lacson reported that the province recorded 46,244 airport arrivals, with 94 tourism sites were opened to support the rebuilding and recovery of the tourism industry, with more than 900 tourism workers fully vaccinated.
Lacson also reported that the Negros Occidental Scholarship Program Division has a total of 3,063 scholars enrolled in different schools under 18 scholarship categories, with 33 maritime scholars having completed their academic requirements last year and are scheduled to undergo ship boarding for a year with partner-international shipping companies.
The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) has conferred the 3 STAR Awards to Negros Occidental Language and Information Technology Center, for quality standards and course implementation of Contact Center Services NC II, Visual Graphic Design NC III, and 2D Animation NC III.
The ICTD Office has developed and launched the NOCHIP Online Management System. The Office has also developed, implemented, and maintained the following computer system in response to COVID-19, such as COVID Management System, Vaccination Information System, Capitol Cab, and Vaccine Inventory System.
Lacson reported that the phase 1 of the rehabilitation of the rubberized track oval at the Pana-ad Park and Stadium was already completed, while phase 2 is 95 percent completed and Phase 3 with 85 percent completion.
True to our commitment to promote good governance, the provincial government of Negros Occidental, 10 municipalities and 8 cities in the province won the 2021 Good Financial Housekeeping list of the Department of Interior and Local Government.
The award recognizes the commitment of the province to uphold the principles of performance, accountability, transparency, and participation.
Lacson also said that the total collection of P14.2 million was recorded by the Procurement Service Division last year, with total sales of P12.2 million.
The Provincial Treasurer’s Office has collected a total of P32.3 million or 97 percent efficiency rate in lease rentals at Negros First Cyber Center from July 1 to December 16, 2021, following its transfer to the province.
Lacson also commended the Sanggunian Panlalawigan under the leadership of Vice Gov. Jeffrey Ferrer, for a job well done by supporting the Abanse Negrense Development Agenda.
He added that the Provincial Planning and Development Office has updated the Provincial Development Investment Program (PDIP) and Executive Legislative Agenda (ELA) for 2020-2022 to include COVID-19 related and other priority development programs/projects/activities.
Lacson also lauded and hailed the health workers, hospital personnel, DRRMO, as well as other frontliners, as “modern day heroes” for their courage, self-sacrifice, and devotion in battling COVID-19.
As servants of the people, we cannot choose when hardship will come, but we can choose how we respond; for at the moment, while we are still in this protracted struggle against COVID-19 together with the emergence of a new variant threatening our country and the world, he added.
This 2022, with our compassion, accord, and commitment to stand by each other, let us rebuild our province not as it had been, but as it should be, Lacson stressed.*