The Year 2011 for the new City of Batac, for all intents and purposes, can be summed up and viewed as a year of major breakthroughs and triumphs that were never anticipated and expected.
Like in years past since Batac became officially converted into a component city in 23 June 2007, its major stumbling block in realizing, sustaining and optimizing its potentials and strengths was the uncertainty of the outcome of the Supreme Court case that challenged its very existence as a city.
Fortunately, and with God’s divine grace and intervention, the highest court of the land ruled “with finality” and upheld the constitutionality of the conversion of Batac as a city, together with 15 more equally and similarly situated new cities.
This happened just five days after the celebration of the 4th City of Batac Charter Day. And this puts to rest all doubts and issues to this great legal battle…
Top 10 Component City:
Batac’s destiny for greatness is carved and etched to be fulfilled, a prophecy that cannot be undone. And any forces that try to challenge this destiny are bound to fail. The promise must be fulfilled.
In September 2011, the entire officialdom and constituency of Batac were surprised by the media release of the Department of the Interior and Local Governments (DILG), that the new City of Batac was acknowledged and honored as one of the “Top Ten Best Performing Component Cities in the Philippines”.
This recognition came about after a thorough review and validation by the DILG of the Local Government Performance Measurement System (LGPMS)/State of Local Governance Report (SLGR) of all cities in the country. This is the prescribed tool of measuring the performance of provinces, cities and municipalities.
A few days after, another award was announced by the DILG. This time acknowledging and conferring to the City of Batac its “Seal of Good Housekeeping”. This comes with a P1 Million worth of project from the Performance Challenge Fund of the Office of the President.
This second award is another acknowledgement of the faithful compliance on the good fiscal management of the city, and transparency and accountability in the transactions and affairs of the city government.
These twin awards virtually put the City of Batac into the premiere league of the best governed and functioning cities; a manifestation of the quality, innovativeness, effectiveness and variety of programs and services extended; and it further gives credence to Batac’s right, qualifications and fitness to be a city to watch for in the future.
2011 – “Year of the Barangays…continues”:
True to my declared promise in my inaugural speech on June 30, 2007, and again re-affirmed at the beginning of my 2nd term on June 30, 2010; the barangays continue to be the conduits of development in the city; and henceforth are further cascaded to the families and constituents of Batac.
Inspite and despite the failure of the national government to give and remit to LGU Batac its just and equitable share in the national wealth that is commensurate to its undisturbed status as a city, the barangays continued and continue to receive vast support from the city government by way of various pump-priming projects and services.
Constrained by “limited” development funding on hand for the year, the rural barangays were favored of projects that were really needed to eventually put them at par or closer with the developments happening in the urban areas.
As such, road concreting projects under the “Barangay Equalization Fund” (BEF) and “Tulong ti Barangay Fund” continued to be undertaken in practically all rural of the rural barangays; bridges constructed or rehabilitated; farmer-irrigators’ infrastructure projects built, improved or rehabilitated.
In May 2011, the brand new “Maipalig Mango Processing Plant” was inaugurated and turned-over to the recipient barangay; and in November 2011, the brand new “Sumader Community Center” was finally inaugurated and turned-over to the community.
Batac is generally viewed as a rainfed area with much dependency on the availability and abundance of impounded and irrigation water.
For 2011 as in the year before it, the amount of rains may not have optimized the irrigation requirements of our farmers because of below than average typhoons which actually passed on the area.
Except for the very destructive typhoon early on in the wet cropping season, the rest of the year had registered fairly good weather. As such good and bountiful harvests were realized, and good farm gate prices as well, for all the major crops in the city, contributing further to the very vibrant domestic economy in Batac.
Inarguably, the agriculture sector gets the biggest pie in terms of the amount of total budgetary allocation, and the amount of projects and services extended to all of Batac’s farming communities and families.
At the start of the wet cropping season, the city government extended about P595,000.00 total subsidy for the inbred palay and hybrid seeds requirement of farmers. This came about after the Department of Agriculture finally removed its practice of subsidizing these seeds. Thereupon, putting the farmers under difficult circumstances to pay in full for their planting needs.
More than P200,000.00 worth of hybrid vegetable seeds were distributed to hundreds of farmers; and 8 units of Kubota water pumps which were given counterpart funds by the city government were awarded to selected organized farmers’ organizations at the celebration of the very successful 4th Farmers’ Festival.
For the first time, the city government embarked on the program of establishing pilot/demonstration farms in practically all rural barangays for the planting and production of “Davao lakatan” and “cardaba” varieties of banana. The plantlets were sourced from the Institute of Plant Breeding of UPLB. This project aims to lower the dependency of Batac from other provinces for its annual requirements for bananas; and to eventually create a livelihood out of banana.
Likewise, for the first time, the city government also embarked on the pilot testing of 3 varieties of ginger in 6 rural barangays. The planting materials were sourced from Nueva Vizcaya and Carasi, and this project is also envisioned to create more livelihood opportunities for upland farmers.
With the help of BFAR Aparri and BFAR Tanay, Rizal, the city government continues to find ways and means of increasing the production of tilapia and other varieties of fish for domestic consumption.
The “concrete hatcheries” which were earlier established at the Magnuang and Pimentel dams are finally producing fingerlings which they can use and share to other barangays that were encouraged to venture in tilapia production. The breeders were gifts from BFAR Aparri.
Six thousand (6,000) fingerlings of common and silver carps sourced from BFAR Tanay, Rizal were likewise stocked at Magnuang and Pimentel SWIPs. Another harvesting of the “pangasius” fish was also done at Pimentel SWIP.
Six (6) colonies of bees were given to farmer-recipients in Brgy. Pimentel in the continuance of their livelihood project to augment their family incomes.
Many irrigation projects that were breached and destroyed by typhoons were rehabilitated; and water systems installed in a number of sites.
Trainings on fish cage design and construction; sweet potato processing; mango processing; tomato processing; and other skills trainings for the women, the youth, and the out-of-school were conducted during the year.
The establishment of clustered “techno demo farms” in palay and “farmers’ field schools” continued to be extended and established in collaboration with agencies of the Department of Agriculture.
And finally, the first ever “solar powered water pump” in the province, a grant from the government of Iksan City in South Korea was installed in Brgy. Camandingan.
In addition to the numerous projects funded by the city government in all of the barangays, many more city-funded projects are being undertaken.
This year, the city government has almost completed all the posts and beams of the 2nd levels of all the permanent buildings of the Batac public market; together with its canopies and concrete gutters.
With the steel trusses and ceilings expected to be started next year, the entire 2nd floor areas of the 6 permanent buildings will literally double the available space at the ground floor areas of said buildings once completed.
The pay comfort rooms at the northwest part of the market is almost done and operational soon; and the fish section flooring was given a complete re-surfacing.
The three-storey City Inn and Dorm is already completed structurally. Finishing works are about to start next year.
The earthen chimney at the slaughterhouse was replaced; and the repair of its dilapidated roofing was done.
The perimeter fence of the soon to open Lying-in Clinic was completed; and the construction of the plant boxes at the northwestern part of the Quiaoit River directly fronting the Marcos Mansion was undertaken.
Education & The City Schools Division:
The City Schools Division of Batac, the 14th division in Region 1, was deactivated more than a year ago. With the termination of the Supreme Court case, it is imperative that this division will be re-activated very soon, in compliance with the provisions of the law that created the City of Batac.
With a division soon again all our own, we can expect dramatic improvements in the quality of education, teachers and students alike; in as much as more personalized attention are now given to all of the schools. This becomes more timely because beginning this school year, the “K+12 Program” of the DepEd has commenced.
There was also a review of the “Text to Teach Program” sponsored by the Ayala Foundation, a consortium of other cooperators, and the city government. First established in 10 schools in Batac to improve the quality of education in the core subject areas of Math, Science and English, the program is expected to be established as well in the other elementary schools of Batac.
Seventeen (17) “locally paid teachers” are being maintained by the city government in answer to the inability of the DepEd to assign sufficient number of teachers in the elementary schools.
And beginning this school year, the city government has begun cost-sharing with the provincial government for the honorarium of the “Sagip Maestra” teachers assigned at the Batac National High School.
The city government is likewise funding the scholarship of 162 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 51 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 numbering 276 in the elementary schools going to high school; providing the scholar generous cash subsidies each year.
Tourism Development, Culture and the Arts:
With the slack of foreign tourist arrivals in the province and around the country, the Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte in cooperation with all the cities and municipalities thereat are one and together in aggressively promoting and competing with other tourist destinations.
Events and activities were put together to put the province in the map for desired and preferred destinations, especially from the domestic market which had developed a penchant for travel.
Batac is not to be outdone in this field, it being a natural stop for local and foreign tourists on account of its interesting sites and gastronomic attractions.
The landscape of Batac is continuously improved and re-developed, especially in the city center, and the greening and cleanliness is maintained and preserved.
With 2 major festivals in Batac, the now famous “Empanada Festival” and the annual “Farmers’ Festival” – both showcasing the unbeatable talents of Batac performing artists – add to that the only one of its kind and now on its 3rd year staging Batac’s very fabulous “Electric and Lights Parade”; no wonder that Batac has become the virtual center for culture and the arts this side of the region.
With the Cultural Center of Batac to be built by no less than the patroness of Philippine culture and arts, Congresswoman Imelda R. Marcos, Batac will further fortify its claim to be tops in these fields.
In the first ever “Tan-ok ni Ilocano Festival of Festivals”, a project of Governor Imee Marcos to feature all the festivals in Ilocos Norte in one big event, Batac’s Empanada Festival dancers showed world class and superior performance, and emerged as the “grand prize winner”.
Health Development & The Lying-In Clinic:
The “Maternal and Child Health Care Clinic” of the City Health Office is opening soon. This multi-million health facility of the city government is a growing addition to its list of functional facilities. This project is in anticipation of the time when deliveries of new-born babies will no longer be allowed in the homes.
As always, our City Health Office had been very active in 2011, with 12,906 medical consultations performed in the office; 10 city-government sponsored medical and dental outreach missions in selected 10 barangays, serving 1,724 medical consultations and 2,297 dental services.
As the 1st Public-Private Mixed DOTS accredited facility in Ilocos Norte, the City Health Office has examined sixty-six (66) new sputum positive patients; two hundred four (204) new chest x-ray positive patients; and recorded one hundred eighty-four (184) totally cured and completed treatments for past tuberculosis positive patients.
Likewise, as the first in the 2nd District of Ilocos Norte to have been accredited by the Department of Health as an Animal Bite Center. Five hundred (500) animal bite cases have been served and administered the anti-rabies vaccines; two hundred six (206) of whom are from other towns.
The very efficient diagnostic laboratory section of the CHO continues to extend reliable and fast services to its clientele; performing diagnostic and laboratory examinations at affordable costs.
Fully equipped with the most modern equipment and technology, the city’s 2 permanent medical technologists can ensure much faster and real-time release of laboratory results.
After careful and tedious evaluation by the representatives of the Department of Health and the World Health Organization, Batac has been awarded and certified “Measles-Free City”.
Likewise, the City of Batac, through the City Health Office has been awarded as the 2011 Achiever by the Philippine Coalition Against TB (PhilCAT) and the DOH; for its exemplary performance in the advocacy and treatment of TB.
Social Services & the STAC Center:
The “Stimulation and Therapeutic Activity Center” (STAC), formally inaugurated in December 2009, continues to render excellent services to its clients, aged 0 to 14 years old. This center was put up in partnership with a foundation funded by the Danish Government and the Kampi, the national association of persons with disabilities.
It is now fully operated by the city government after its formal turnover in January 2010. Currently, the facility serves one hundred twenty-five (125) children, with various kinds and levels of physical and mental impairments.
The delivery of social services is one of the strengths of the city government in its desire to create a compassionate society in Batac; and to showcase a government that truly responds to the needs and welfare of its 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 2,058 individuals who had been affected by the onslaught of Typhoon Mina. Emergency shelter assistance was likewise extended to 3 fire incident victims and 2 typhoon incident victims. Sixty one (61) individuals categorized under crisis were accorded cash assistance as well.
To date, there are already 9,320 families and individuals who are enrolled in the “Philhealth Para sa Masa” in Batac. This excludes the individually paying members to the Philhealth insurance.
Six thousand three hundred eighty-six (6,386) enrollees are fully sponsored by the city government; one thousand one hundred ninety-nine (1,199) enrollees are jointly sponsored by the Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte and the City Government; and one thousand seven hundred thirty-five (1,735) enrollees are sponsored by the National Government.
It is expected that by next year, more beneficiaries shall be enrolled by the city government to come close to its target of “universal coverage” for the city.
The city government continues to “fully subsidize” day care center fees of the one thousand one hundred (1,100) day care pupils enrolled this school year, from the 48 day care centers operating in 42 barangays in the city.
In November this year, the city government resumed its “project eye (i) care”, the giving of free eye check up and free reading glasses to constituents in Batac who could hardly afford the cost of this service. Two hundred thirty (230) constituents were happy to receive their free eyeglasses; with about seven hundred thirty (730) more constituents to be given their free eyeglasses by 2012.
“save the quiaoit river…the mountains and the watershed”:
Environmental protection and conservation remains to be one of the advocacies of the city government, in answer to the worsening effects of global warming and climate change; the reeling effects have been observed to be staggering in the last few years.
In response to undue denudation of our mountains and forestlands; the intermittent floodings in our flatlands; and the world-wide call for concerted action and involvement; the city government launched in 2009 its most socially-relevant and attuned with the times environmental advocacy, with the “save the quiaoit river…our mountains and watershed”.
This project of tree plantings in our mountains and watershed areas have been religiously undertaken every year, starting on independence day, and ends at about October each year, to ensure higher percentage of survival for the seedlings planted.
With “multi-sectoral participation”, this is Batac’s single project with the widest participation – the city officials and employees, non-governmental organizations, barangay and SK officials, the churches, and the schools, private institutions, the media and school organizations are all committed in this project.
Soarin’ Batac…2012 and Beyond:
The City of Batac is poised and aiming its sights for the bests that are yet to happen. So much to do, so little time.
But there is no turning back from where we had started. We had gone through the worse of difficult and trying times. Time to reap the blessings of all the hardwork and patience we had endured. All the major programs and projects have been institutionalized since 2007, and have been successfully sustained all these years.
With the Supreme Court case put to rest, we are all revved up for more. All the good projects that enormously benefit our people must continue. All the efforts of building the new city of Batac must not be stalled, even just for a single moment.
As we enter a brand new year in 2012, our beloved City of Batac is all systems go for her flight to greatness…We shall be in full throttle and in full gear to make sure the achievement of our goals come in lightning speed. And so, the golden years of the barangays continue.
This administration shall stay focused of its vision, and its strategies to operationalize such vision.
We have given a ray of hope, and we had laboured to address the realization of the dreams and aspirations of our people. We have to sustain everything that are good so that the people of Batac will take pride in calling themselves citizens of the Home of Great Leaders…true blooded Batacqueños by heart and by soul.
With the grace of our ever-giving 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.