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NegOr marks gains, prepares for NIR

The provincial government of Negros Oriental, under Gov. Roel Degamo, has endeavored to meet its challenges for 2015, marking gains that have significantly improved its local government posture to the benefit of its constituents.

 

These would also prepare the province as it goes through the transition period at which both Negros Oriental and Negros Occidental will merge as a one-island region, or Region 18. Already, some regional offices have opened their doors at temporary locations in Dumaguete.

Degamo outlined his administration's accomplishments in his yearend report and press conference at the Capitol Thursday.

He said the awards the province had received in 2015 included the Seal of Good Housekeeping and the Seal of Good Local Governance, from the Department of Interior and Local Government, and that these are “testaments of the provincial government's efforts to bring government services to the people and transparency in the various government transactions.”

The P14 million monetary reward for both projects will be used for the improvement of the Bonawon to Calangag Road, and the construction of the flood control project along the Banica River in Dumaguete City, he added.

HEALTH IS WEALTH

Health being a primary concern of the Degamo administration, this sector has marked gains that he said he will strive to continue if he gets re-elected in the 2016 polls.

One accomplishment highlighted was the Department of Health's official declaration of Negros Oriental as filariasis-free, after several years of fighting the parasitic disease, he added.

Also, the much-touted four-storey Central Block Building of the Negros Oriental Provincial Hospital is now in its finishing touches, and Degamo said he is optimistic it will be ready for use early next year.

Another health program that Degamo consistently carried out despite criticisms from those opposed to his administration is the medical/dental/surgical missions aimed to bring these services to the people.

As of December 16, he said 54 medical/dental/surgical missions, which benefited around 60,000 individuals in the province, were held, and higher by six more and with almost double the number of beneficiaries, compared to last year.

The provincial government also managed to include the animal welfare mission conducted by the Provincial Veterinary Office, which provided services, such as deworming, vaccinations and artificial insemination of animals.

Other projects to improve the livelihood opportunities of Negrenses included the animal dispersal program, specifically native animals, such as chicken and goats.

EDUCATION FOR ALL

He said his administration endeavors to make education available to all – “rich or poor, young and old”, providing support and assistance to programs and projects that would address the needs and concerns of the education sector.

The scholarship program of the province has expanded its coverage, to include poor and deserving students, which was only made available then for high school valedictorians and salutatorians, he said.

As of this year, 1,038 beneficiaries of the Magdegamo Scholarship Program are enrolled in campuses of the Negros Oriental State University.

The provincial government also maintained its scholarship program for those who want to pursue medical studies at the Silliman University School of Medicine, where at present, 30 scholars are enrolled and six have graduated and are currently serving at the provincial government's hospitals.

The province had supplied support and assistance to public schools, such as computers, printers, projects, tables and chairs, and even kitchen utensils.

LIVELIHOOD OPPORTUNITIES

The province's priority programs include the provision of livelihood opportunities and skills trainings to enable residents to land better jobs, and improve their living standards.

This year, the Provincial Integrated Skills Training Center recorded 679 graduates from the regular training modules, such as automotive servicing National Certificate I and II, welding NC I and II, electrical and installation maintenance NCII, machining NC I and driving NC II courses.

The PISTC also produced 114 graduates from various Training for Work Scholarship programs, funded by the Technical Education Skills and Development Authority, which covered welding NC I, electrical and installation maintenance NC II, and swine raising NC II courses, Degamo said.

Around 386 graduates benefited from 17 livelihood training programs conducted by the Technology and Livelihood Development Center, like dressmaking, fish, meat and poultry processing, commercial baking, and cosmetology, among others.

FOOD SECURITY

He said palay production increased by 556 metric tons or 2.4 percent compared to 2014's first semester production, while corn production decreased by some three percent.

Vegetable and fruit production increased by 9.35 percent and 2.20 percent, respectively, despite unpredictable weather conditions this year, he said.

He cited the “dedicated employees” of the Provincial Agriculturist's Office, who are working hard to “provide various interventions”, such as trainings and assistance, “to mitigate the effects of the weather disturbances on agriculture”, especially with the El Niño phenomenon.

The Environment and Natural Resources Division sustained 30 agro-forestry sites in its reforestation efforts and planted some 48,000 assorted fruit and forest trees covering around 56 hectares.

DISASTER MITIGATION

Amid mounting global concerns on climate change, the provincial government implemented, adopted and designed measures to help save lives and prevent destruction to property, during calamity and other forms of disaster.

Negros Oriental is among the very few local government units that completed the ladderized course on Incident Command System, he said. Other accomplishments include the strengthening of efforts for disaster risk reduction through the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, funding of trainings and activities on search and rescue, scuba diving and contingency planning for flood, among others.

The province also adopted this year the disaster management and response in development projects, to become disaster resilient and geo-hazard compliant and achieve a zero casualty during emergencies.

PEACE EFFORTS

The province has continued to maintain its posture of being conflict manageable and development ready where insurgency is concerned. Five former New People's Army members also surrendered and provided financial assistance under the Comprehensive Integrated Livelihood Program.

Degamo said he had signed Executive Order 15-10 this year for the security forces to run after all forms of illegal activities and criminalities in the province. He also commended the Philippine National Police and other law enforcement agencies for “eliminating key personalities” and alleged members of armed groups in the province.

STIMULATING TOURISM

The province continues to rank number 2 in the Central Visayas' 2015 tourist arrivals, with 516,122, or a growth of 19.79 percent, from last year's arrivals of 430,863.

“We continue to attract both local and foreign tourists – through the major highlights of tourism activities in the province,” Degamo said. These would include the Buglasan Festival in October and the Pasko sa Kapitolyo during the Christmas holidays.

WHAT LIES AHEAD?

With what the governor believes to be a successful and thriving environment for the province's economic growth and social development, among others, comes another huge challenge in the coming year.

Degamo was referring to the creation of the Negros Island Region this year, that would separate Negros Oriental from Region 7 or the Central Visayas Region, whose creation President Benigno Aquino III had signed in May.

Degamo was designated the first director of the Regional Peace and Order Council of Region 18 while Negros Occidental Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. was named the Regional Development Council chair.

He said total and lasting peace and development in Negros Oriental cannot be accomplished by just one sector alone.

He thanked the men and women of the provincial government for their tireless effort to extend the best quality of service to the people. He also assured residents that his administration will continue to do its best to implement programs and projects that are essential in attaining peace and development in Negros Oriental.*JFP

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