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The 2010 Executive Report

Introduction:

We started year 2010 on a high note, full of optimism and hope for a very prosperous year. Just a few days before Christmas of 2009, the Supreme Court in its end of year decision, handed its ruling affirming once again, Batac’s and 15 other towns’  conversion into cities, which were all ratified by the resounding majority of the peoples in these towns way back in 2007 and 2008.

With the expectation that the national government would soon release the just and equitable shares of these new cities from the national wealth, the political leadership in Batac was certain that all the major priorities in terms of projects, programs and services will continue and be sustained.

Months had passed, but the commensurate shares of the new cities in the national wealth did not come. Very alarming indeed for LGU Batac, as it would surely create a severe dent in the financial position of the city.

A few more months after, in what would be viewed as an impossible and unexpected action of the highest court of the land, it once again flip-flopped and favored once more the League of Cities of the Philippines. To date, the Supreme Court is yet to rule with finality on the case.

Suffice it to say that the latest motion for reconsideration of the 16 respondent cities have yet to be acted upon. In which case, all 16 new cities, for all intents and purposes, remain to assume the status of cities.

 

2010: An Election Year:

Year 2010 is an election year for both national and local positions. In fact, many months before 2010, or the year before 2010, everybody already seemed pre-occupied with the election. So much so, that generally speaking, public service would oftentimes be put in the backburner.

Both the national and local elections have been hotly contested elections. As they say, in the Philippines, nobody accepts defeat in the elections. They would just say they were cheated. In sum, the last local election had clearly defined the political divide within the city and the province. That we believe was counter-productive and divisive.

Be that as it may, despite the non-remittal for Batac’s  just share in the national wealth, and despite the fractious political landscape immediately before and after the local elections, 2010 may still be characterized by substantial gains and accomplishments the city officials and employees, and the barangay officials and other stakeholders, will all be proud of.

2010 – “Year of the Barangays…continued”:

I declared in my first inaugural speech on 30 June 2007, that the years 2008-2010 will be the golden years for Batac’s 14 urban and 29 rural barangays. The period that will usher significant milestones and breakthroughs never before imagined it could happen in this historic  “Home of Great Leaders”.

In 2010, Batac’s 43 barangays, through their hardworking and inspired barangay officials, constituents and volunteers, continued to implement priority projects which were earlier identified as pump-priming, and would result to marked socio-economic upliftment for the people. That was made possible through the one P1 million worth of development assistance to each barangay.

As such, road concreting projects continued to be undertaken in the rural barangays, bridges constructed or rehabilitated, farmer-irrigators’ infrastructure projects improved and added. Also, the urban barangays continued to construct or rehabilitate their drainage canals, in preparation for the  integration of all drainage facilities in the poblacion.

Other priority projects of the urban barangays were also  addressed, like the acquisition of lots and/or construction of new barangay halls, repair of motor vehicles, and other barangay improvement projects.

Very unfortunate, however, that in the remaining half of the year, the P1 million-funded projects had to be put on hold, because of the non-release of the IRA share of Batac as a city. This was a reality that was understood by the barangays; otherwise it would put the fiscal position of the city in great peril and danger.

Agricultural Development:

For a city that is generally viewed and considered as a rainfed area, and as such highly dependent on rainwater to irrigate the fertile soils devoted to agriculture, 2010 weather may not be to the liking of the farmers.

While the rest of Asia had been reeling on the destructive effects of too much rain and flooding, in Batac and in Ilocos Norte, rainfall and typhoons were severely below average levels. Still, bountiful harvests in major crops were recorded; be it in rice, corn, vegetables or tobacco.

Agricultural development, being the centerpiece of this administration, our farmers were always topmost in attention, care and support by the city government – be it in good times or bad.

In conjunction with the yearly celebration of the Batac Farmers’ Festival, so many post harvest facilities were awarded to a big number of farmers’ organizations or “zanjeras”. Fifteen (15) Kubota four-wheel drive farm tractors, twenty-one (21) Kubota RK70 heavy duty shallow tube wells (STW) for irrigation, and twenty (20) standard multi-crop threshers were given.

These were in addition to the nineteen (19) RK70 water pumps which were 50% financed by the Department of Agriculture, and counterparted by the city government for the remaining 50% of cost of the machines. Ten (10) more smaller sized Robin engined water pumps were given to zanjeras courtesy of the ABAKADA Party List of Congressman Jonathan de la Cruz.

Still part of the celebration of the farmers’ festival was the giving of one (1) bag of complete fertilizer to each of 6,060 individual farmers, for a total cost of almost P6.8M.

For the wet-cropping season, the Department of Agriculture RFU-1 in cooperation with the City Agriculture Office, identified 34 sites to be recipients of the 5-hectare techno demo farms on rice. Several varieties of rice were given, alongside with the corresponding commercial and organic fertilizer requirements of these clusters.

Three (3) techno demo cum farmers field schools were also established in three barangays during the dry cropping season. This project was done in cooperation with the Agricultural Training Institute as lead agency.

In addition to the 16 cans of premium quality vegetable seeds which the farmers desire to plant in the aftermath of a typhoon, the city government likewise had given to the farmers about P150,000 worth of high value commercial crops during the Farmers’ Festival.

Ever on the lookout for more quality agricultural products to be introduced to improve the quality of life of farmers in Batac, we were able to get a donation of more than a hundred banana tissues for 5 varieties of premium quality bananas from UP Los Banos. A banana tissue techno demo farm was put up in Brgy. San Mateo.

Recently, 450 banana seedlings, also sourced from UPLB were given to about 7 recipient localities. This is of the lakatan variety similar to those in Davao.

In the area of livestock production, the city government partnered with the Department of Labor for the grant of P195,400.00 goat dispersal project in Brgy, Sumader; and P50,000 goat dispersal project as well for the 4-H Club in Brgy. Baligat, funded by the Agricultural Training Institute.

Our tilapia production in Magnuang and Pimentel Small Water Impounding Projects (SWIP) continues to thrive and improve. We also saw this year the successful maiden harvesting of “pangasius” fish at Pimentel SWIP.

We have already started the growing of tilapia breeders in Magnuang, together with the construction of a tilapia hatchery, so that we may soon be able to produce our own fingerlings.

Livelihood & Skills Development for People Empowerment:

This administration firmly believes that the giving of dole-outs is not the solution to alleviate poverty, or the means to improve the economic status and quality of life of its people. Instead, the city government continues to empower its constituents with the right skills and trainings which they can utilize for livelihood and employment.

For the year, 2 trainings were conducted in dressmaking, and t-shirt and sportswear production amongst  selected women of the Kalipunan ng Liping Pilipina, the umbrella organization of all women’s organizations in the city. Fortunately, immediately after completing their training, production started as orders have been received from clients.

Several constituents in Brgy. Pimentel also trained in bee-culture in one of the biggest and most successful bee farms in Ilocos Sur. They will soon be made beneficiaries of cultured bee colonies in the coming weeks.

The proposed Mango Processing Facility in Brgy. Maipalig is  completed and ready for inauguration.

The Department of Labor and Employment’s financial grant of P449,834.00 will be used to purchase next year the multi-purpose dryer and other utensils which will be used to produce dried mangoes, its by-products, and other allied products. Neighboring Brgy. Quiom stand to benefit as well from this facility.

Tilapia production which had been introduced in a number of barangays in the past 3 years, offers much earning potential for the farmer-cooperators. Production of tilapia within Batac remains mere a fraction of the total demand. Hence, more farmers shall be encouraged to this livelihood opportunity.

Incidentally, the city government, in cooperation with BFAR-Aparri, had already trained the farmer-fisherfolks of Magnuang and Pimentel on the construction, operation and management of a tilapia hatchery at the Magnuang SWIP, so that by next year, we can produce our own requirements for good stock of tilapia fingerlings

More small cooperatives producing various products will continue to be established next year; as there is already a space  at the ground floor of the Riverside Empanadaan for the sale of products made in Batac.

Infrastructure Development:

In addition to the numerous projects funded by the city government in all of the barangays, many more city-funded projects are being simultaneously undertaken, in different stages of completion.

This year, the city government has completed the construction of the canopies, the second floor posts and beams, and concrete gutters of four (4) of the public market’s 6 permanent buildings.

The public toilets on the northern part of the market along Washington Street is 90% completed and will be opened in January. And the market office has started its much-deserved and desired facelift and renovation.

The ground floor of the Maternal & Child Health Care Building at the City Health Office is ready for occupancy in the first quarter of 2011. When fully operational, this will eventually become the first 24-hours health service facility of the city government.

This year, the three-storey City Inn & Dorm within the government center and adjacent to the Kalipi Training Center was started. Construction is full blast for this more or less 30-room facility for tourism. Structural works are expected to be completed by the first half of 2011.

The Lumba-ao Day Care Center in Brgy. San Pedro, is an answer to the prayers and wishes of the people in the locality. This new and latest day care center to be built, can be safely assumed to be  the best day care center building ever built in the city. It was inaugurated last June 29,2010.

The Baay Community Center was completed and inaugurated. This is the biggest barangay hall in all of Batac, realized through the pooling of resources of the barangay and the city government. Likewise, the city government supports the on-going construction of the Sumader and Cangrunaan Barangay Halls.

The perimeter fence on the eastern side of the Slaughterhouse was completed; the Quiom RC Bridge was rehabilitated; the Sampolona Bridge in Palongpong was replaced; and numerous flood control improvements were undertaken, to include complete rehabilitation of several portions of the protection walls of the Quiaoit River.

The Citylights-Citybright Project, the installation of roadway luminaries along the national highway and major city roads, was undertaken along the whole loop of the processional road this year.

Education…Changing Lives…the Great Equalizer:

Education is still the best gift we can give the children of Batac. Certainly, the city government gives high priority in this area through various programs, initiatives and innovations to improve and enhance the quality of education in the schools.

Batac’s schoolchildren and students continue to bring honor and laurels with their outstanding showing in numerous division and regional competitions sanctioned by the Department of Education.

The city government continues to fund the scholarship of 173 deserving students at the MMSU, paying for all the tuition and fees of the scholars, and with monthly allowances as well.

Also, the city government has 87 scholars to the FAST PACE Program of the MMSU, for students enrolled at the College of Agriculture. It also gives monthly allowances for these scholars.

 

Lastly, the city government also has a scholarship program for top honor graduates in the elementary schools going to high school; providing for the scholar generous cash subsidies each year.  There are 214 High School scholars as of date.

 

The nutrition program of the city government for school children qualified it to receive the 2nd highest honor amongst all the cities in Region 1.

This year, the city government entered into a partnership with the Ayala Foundation as regards the Text2Teach Program, to better learning in the key areas of Math, Science and English. This project is introduced in 10 elementary schools; with the intention of eventually establishing it in all the schools later on.

The Alternative Learning System, a program for constituents who have not finished either elementary or high school, continues. This allows undergraduates to participate in this program, so that they may eventually finish elementary and high school by way of passing the proficiency and competency tests. Good to note that a lot of constituents are availing of this program.

Tourism Development & Batac Festivals:

The 3rd year celebration of the Charter Day of Batac as a city last June 23, was again highlighted with the staging of the now by-word Empanada Festival 2010, to better promote Batac’s most famous product, and the city as an important tourist and gastronomic destination.

The Batac Empanada Festival continues to draw raves and admiration from so many people through the wonders of cable and internet technologies.

Prominent officials from the National Committee for Culture and the Arts were in attendance, to observe the proceedings and judge the showdown competition that followed. The NCCA likewise provided the major cash prizes for the competition. More cash prizes were also given by Congresswoman Imelda R. Marcos, who was invited as the festival’s guest of honor.

Likewise, in May 2010, the city government once again staged its own version of the week-long Farmers’ Festival which certainly eclipsed the fun and excitement of the Empanada Festival, and probably the grandest in the province. This event which was well attended is a way of giving respect and support to our agricultural workers and communities.

Adhering to the vision and goal of Governor Imee Marcos to put Ilocos Norte in the map as one major tourist destination worth visiting and exploring, designated personnel of the city government readily attends capacity building seminars and trainings sponsored by the provincial government to enhance the city’s preparedness to handle both domestic and foreign visitors into the city.

Parallel to our efforts of building the new City of Batac are projects to even enhance the beauty of our parks, and the environs of the City Hall Building and the new Riverside Empanadaan.

More amenities and beautification projects will continue to be implemented, to truly reflect and highlight Batac’s status as a new city, and as a must see destination in Ilocos Norte.

The City of Batac, is indeed committed to do its best in promoting tourism as it is an integral part of the approved Metro Ilocos Norte Tourism Master Plan.

Health Development & The Lying-In Clinic:

The Maternal and Child Health Care Clinic of the City Health Office starts operation by the first quarter of 2011. This multi-million health facility of the city government is a growing addition to its list of functional facilities. This project is very timely as the Department of Health now strongly advocates that deliveries of new-born babies will no longer be allowed in the homes.

As always, our City Health Office had been very active in 2010, with 14,150.00 medical consultations performed in the office.

Our CHO had been accredited as the 1st Public-Private Mixed DOTS facility in Ilocos Norte, having served 237 tuberculosis patients this year, both adults and pediatric.

Likewise, our CHO is the 1st in the 2nd District of Ilocos Norte to have been accredited by the Department of Health as an Animal Bite Center. Six hundred (600) animal bite cases have been recorded and vaccinated, 174 of whom are from other towns.

A total of 570 children have been fully immunized for the year; 5,866 children have been dewormed; and 6,034 children have been recipients of Vitamin A supplements under the Garantisadong Pambata program.

Likewise, a total of 3,147 individuals have been administered with the AH1N1 vaccine.

The Laboratory Section of the CHO remains very functional; performing diagnostic and laboratory examinations at affordable costs. Fully equipped with the most modern equipment, the city’s 2 permanent medical technologists can ensure much faster and real-time release of laboratory results.

For 2010, more than 7,000 clients have been served by the Laboratory Section.

The upsurge of the dreaded dengue fever saw the sharp rise of patients seeking laboratory examinations; quite a number of whom have been referred to the CHO’s Lab Section by the hospital for immediate examination and screening.

Numerous medical and outreach missions in the barangays were also undertaken by the doctors and staff of the City Health Office.

For this year, the Annak ti Batac Association of Canada had generously donated a state-of-the-art brand new dental chair at the CHO. This replaces the ageing dental chair which had overtaken its life span.

Social Services & the STAC Center:

The Stimulation and Therapeutic Activity Center (STAC), formally inaugurated in December 2009, continues to render excellent service to its clients, aged 0 to 14 years old. This center, put up in partnership with a foundation funded by the Danish Government and the Kampi, the national association of persons with disabilities, now serves  108 children, with various kinds and levels of physical and mental impairments.

Aside from that the city government is now giving allowances to STAC children who are enrolled in the SPED centers of Batac. In January 27, 2010 the STAC center was officially turned over to the city government by the Danida and Kampi officials. Henceforth, this facility is now fully funded by the city government.

The delivery of social services is one of the strengths of the city government; very much timely in responding to the needs of our constituents from children to youth, from women to senior citizens.

All of the intervention mechanisms as promoted by the Department of Social Welfare & Development are extended by the City Social Welfare Office.

The city government was able to extend relief to 121 families/individuals under varying levels of crises. Medical referrals (SCSR) were extended to 62 clients.

The 4Ps program of the national government through the DSWS, in cooperation with the city government has produced 463 beneficiaries coming from 7 barangays. To date a total of P5.39M have been released to the clients.

“6000+ new Philhealth enrollees”:

In 2009, for the first time ever, the city government has enrolled more than 6000 families to the Philhealth insurance; bringing to about 10,000 families those who are now enrolled and beneficiaries to this program.

This was considered by the city officials as the biggest gift to the good people of Batac, ensuring for them ready access to health services whichever part of the country by just showing their card, either as enrollee or beneficiary.

This large enrollment of families brings closer to the city officials’ target of having at least one head of a family in all of the homes of Batac, enrolled to the Philhealth.

With a little over 12,000 homes in Batac, that goal is now within easy reach.

All the counterpart funds of the city government for its own enrollees have been paid, as religiously as it has done for its other enrollees for so many years now.

Correspondingly, all the cardholders’ enrollments are on active status. Meaning, they can use their Philhealth cards, or their legitimate and qualified beneficiaries to any of the accredited hospitals and clinics anywhere in the Philippines.

“eye (i) care project”:

Another pioneering program of the city government which was started in 2009 was the giving of free consultation and eye check-up to less privileged members of our society; and who are potential beneficiaries of free eye glasses.

As of March 2010, recipients to the eye (i) care project reached a total of 1017.

Realizing the importance of this project from those who have benefited from this project; and the earnest desires by countless more who also need eyeglasses, the next wave of the eye (i) care project shall immediately resume January 2011.

“100% subsidized…day care center fees”:

Knowing that a lot of parents, especially in the rural barangays are hard-up raising the monthly dues of their sons and daughters who are enrolled in the day care centers of Batac; and notwithstanding the relative affordability of barangay day care centers compared to private institutions; the city government, apart from the usual subsidies it give to all of the day care workers, has assumed 50% of the dues being paid by the parents, beginning school year 2009-2010.

Beginning school year 2010-2011 with total enrollment of 1,182 day care children, day care center fees are already things of the past. Day care center education is absolutely Free and 100% borne by the city government.

It was indeed a great relief for the parents who had been burdened by the dues. With this project, there is no longer any valid reason for parents not to send their pre-school children to the day care centers.

“save the quiaoit river…the mountains and the watershed”:

In anticipation of the worse effects of global warming and climate change; in response to undue denudation of our mountains and forestlands; and the intermittent floodings in our flatlands, the  city government has launched its most socially-relevant and attuned with the times environmental advocacy, with the “save the quiaoit river…our mountains and watershed”, during the Independence Day 2009 Celebration.

At every opportunity, especially during weekends and holidays, the city officials and employees scheduled tree plantings in various areas, especially the identified watershed areas of Batac.

This noteworthy project has again elicited participation by non-governmental organizations, barangay and SK officials, the churches, and the schools, private companies, and other environmental advocates.

In a manifestation of support, the Ilocos Norte Electric Cooperative also made a donation of 10,000 mahogany seedlings to the city government for this project.

At the completion of the last scheduled tree-planting activity for 2010, about 25,000 narra seedlings, and about 17,000 mahogany seedlings were planted in the mountains and watershed areas.

Various river clean-up activities by volunteer groups were held in various sections of the Quiaoit River. The city government  had began construction, repairs and improvements in different parts of the Quiaoit River protection wall; in addition to those raised protection walls that were undertaken by barangays where the river runs through.

Looking Ahead…2011 and Beyond:

During the workshop for the preparation of the city’s Executive-Legislative Agenda, the city officials decided to reformulate the city’s Vision to be attuned to the changing times, and to capitalize on the strengths and great potential of Batac.

As such the reformulated Vision now reads: “BATAC: the Home of Great Leaders; fortifying its economic supremacy in Northern Luzon through a development oriented in agriculture, entrepreneurship and industry; where peace-loving and friendly people live in ecologically balanced environment governed by responsive political leadership.”

That said, Batac is gearing up and ready to take a pivotal and important role as a key player in regional development.  With the passage of Batac’s Investment Code, the availability of trained and trainable human resources, and the relative affordability of land prices; all there put together to serve as stimuli for private capital to start coming in droves; thereby providing a new wave of dynamism in the domestic economy.

Looking back from where we had started in 2007, we say so much has been done. But much more can be done. There is no turning back then, but rather put ourselves on high gear to move faster and speedier.

All  the efforts of building the new city of Batac must not be stalled, not even by the legal battles being fought in the Supreme Court.

This administration shall stay focused on its re-engineered vision, and its strategies to operationalize such vision.

With the grace of our God Almighty, and the intercession of our beloved patroness, the Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, the City of Batac and her people, will always be at the forefront of all that are good.