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Home About Us State of the Province Address STATE OF THE PROVINCE ADDRESS CY 2013

STATE OF THE PROVINCE ADDRESS CY 2013

Distinguished Guests, My colleagues in Government Service, People of the Province of Agusan del Norte, Ladies and Gentlemen, good afternoon.
I am doubly glad that we can be together this day to mark the 46th Foundation of the Province of Agusan del Norte.
As all of you would know, this will be the last State of the Province Address I am honored and privileged to deliver before you and the people of this Province. 
I must admit offhand that the accomplishments I would be reporting are not mine alone.  All of these achievements are the result of our collective effort. Every one, may they be allies or not has a share in all that we attained. For this, I shall be forever grateful.
This afternoon, allow me again to report what your servants have done to attain our dream of becoming a place where all Agusanons, with the aid of the Divine Providence, may live in sustainable prosperity under the stewardship of responsible and transparent leaders.
The most pressing indicator of our direction is the level of Poverty in Agusan del Norte. When I started serving this province, the figure hovered between 50 percent and 60 percent of all the households in the province. In 2009, we collectively brought down the figure to 33.5 percent and as of 2012, the NSCB reported that the figure has gone down to 32 percent. This encouraging record should inspire us to intensify and focus our collective efforts at addressing the deep-rooted issue of poverty in this region.
This afternoon's address is consistently aligned with our thrusts as articulated in our Six Point Agenda. 
 
1. EFFICIENT AND EFFECTIVE DELIVERY OF BASIC SERVICES
 
Our efforts of ensuring that quality education is available for all ushered a very promising opportunity for our schoolchildren. From athletics to the National Achievement Test, Agusan del Norte has always been in the forefront of achievers and has been bannered as Caraga's best in education. Our programs and projects always tried to achieve the objective of fully implementing the "Education for All" (EFA) strategy. Looking back, the average completion rate in 2007 was only 63.32percent for both Elementary and High School. With strong determination and consistent policies, we now have an average completion rate of 71percent of those who enrolled in the high school and the elementary. Likewise, our Net Enrollment Ratio has significantly improved these last four years. The most significant increase is the Net Enrollment Ratio of the elementary schools last year, which is 99.79 percent, nearing the ideal EFA target of 100percent. Our achievement rate has also reached the 75percent mark as we garnered 75.30 percent, notably 85.17percent for the elementary grade. The number of children who joined school also increased from an average of 60.7 percent in 2007 to 85.75percent last year. Even in our non-formal education, 9,547 children were enrolled in our day care centers. For the past several years, we have provided workbooks costing P 1.5 Million per year for these children. We hope that these programs are continued until education has indeed become fully "EDUCATION FOR ALL".
To further enhance and make our education readily responsive to the needs of industries, and to prepare our children to face life as well, our training endeavors followed the Enrollment to Employment Strategy. Hence, last year the Provincial Government and the TESDA enrolled for training 29,344 individuals that resulted to about 27,000 trainees graduating from different courses. Over 7,500, of these trainees were assessed and 6,000 were certified ready for employment. From this figure, 2,150 certified trainees got employment last year. 
Scholarship slots were provided through funds graciously given from the PDAF of Hon. Angelica Rosedell M. Amante-Matba of the 2nd Congressional District of Agusan del Norte, and now the incoming governor, in the amount of P4.3M. The province added P1M. Overall, with funds coming from TESDA at P10M the Scholarship Funding Support totaled P15.3M. 
The province has always kept its pledge to improve the quality of life of the people of Agusan del Norte as its goal and mission. This is why in 2012, we continued to collaborate with the national government and our local government units in sponsoring the PhilHealth coverage of 12,542 households at a tune of P11, 850,000. With the contribution of our institutional partners, our PhilHealth coverage program totaled P22.55 Million in 2012. A complementary frontline service of the province, which provided funding assistance for indigents, was able to assist 7,338 clients cover their hospital bills, medicines, blood processing and other laboratory needs. The allocated amount for these services amounted to P3.54M. It is my ardent hope that these investments will continue to have a lasting impact on the lives of the beneficiaries as it continue to meet the health care needs and requirements of those whom they are needed most.
Recognizing that learned populace is very valuable assets especially if they are also enjoying wellness in life, the Provincial Government has placed premium investment in the health service sector. Last year we continued to provide the sum of   P41.5 Million for MOOE to enable our hospitals to deliver effectively health services like maternal health care and child health services. As an outcome, the sector reported that the occupancy rate of our hospitals reached more than 100 percent of their targets after we admitted 15,000 patients. Medical consultation services on the other hand were extended to 55,000 individuals. Overall, our health sector provided services to more than 75,000 individuals seeking medical attention. To intensify our services, the Provincial Government of Agusan del Norte and its partners such as the AECID or the Agencia Espanola de Cooperacion International Para el Desarollo and the Department of Health, invested P15 million for hospital equipment, P36 Million for hospital rooms and buildings and P102 Million for the salaries and wages of our doctors, nurses and other health personnel. The province has been pushing for the completion of a new building that will upgrade the Provincial Hospital into a Comprehensive Emergency Obstetric and Neonatal Care (CEmONC) Referral Center. For 2012, the provincial government infused P5M for embankment and allocated another P10M for the completion of the Phase I component of the building intended for the upgrade.  Within the next five years, the hospital aims to become a 150 - bed tertiary hospital with capability to perform and address morbidity and mortality issues in addition to those related to preventing maternal and infant mortalities.
The Province of Agusan del Norte is one of the recipients of the national poverty reduction program or "Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps). Since it was implemented in 2009, a very remarkable impact as shown in the increase of Enrollees/Attendance Rate of Students as well as in the numbers of parents visiting Health Centers has been noted. As of December 2012, 20,840 households were registered in the program.
On top of providing direct funding assistance, the province sustained its initiative in providing families with opportunities to improve their earnings. Through the Self-Employment Assistance Kaunlaran Program (SEA-K) which we started in the Year 2000, 37 new livelihood organizations were granted a total of P5.1Million capital assistance.
 
2. ECONOMIC GROWTH
 
Despite the rather bleak picture of the world economy, we are still so blessed that once again the Filipino stood pliant. In fact, we bested many economies in Southeast Asia by the growth we achieved as well as the investment upgrades we received. The Province of Agusan del Norte has these gains to share. The volume of exports recorded by our Customs, reached over 2.7 billion kilograms valued at $152.3 million. The tariff levy was $5 million. In the same vein, our imports totaled 4.7 million kilograms valued at $36.2 million. The total coastal shipping and coastwise statistics that were reported by our partner agencies such as the Bureau of Customs, the National Statistics Office and the Philippine Ports Authority, when combined revealed that in 2012, Agusan del Norte was a net exporter province.
The dynamics of our provincial economy have always been attributed to several factors. Resources build-up, climate change adaptation schemes, provision of post harvest facilities, product enhancement, research and development, were vital strategies that interplayed in the growth of our economy. In 2012 another 1,287 landless farmer-tillers were transformed into owners after we distributed to them a total of 2,194 hectares of farmlands. These land resources brought a difference in the lives of our farmers. Similarly, the facilities such as the Early Warning System and equipment placed in the municipalities of Buenavista, Jabonga, Las Nieves and Kitcharao provided the foundation for our farmers to start applying climate change compliant methods in their farming practices. These efforts were further strengthened by our renewed activities in disseminating 4,000 weather forecasts, which undoubtedly minimized damage to lives and properties in vulnerable areas around the province. Another contributor to our economic growth was the operating cooperatives whose 10,000 members continued to espouse sound entrepreneurial approaches. Their combined total paid up capital has reached P15.1 million during the year in review.
Improved farm productivity is one of our strategies in order to lift the socio-economic status of our farmers. To achieve this strategy the Province rehabilitated irrigation facilities costing P227 million. Certainly, these facilities helped us achieve the posted yield of 4MT per hectare for rice and 3.75MT for corn. Among the support programs which helped improve the productivity of our farmers and fisher folks were the rice procurement and distribution activities the province implemented last year. During the year in review rice procurement amounted to P6.5 million for 7,718 bags. Likewise, distribution reached 58,700 bags at a cost of P67 million. These schemes provided income for our small businessmen and helped stabilize the price of rice.
To further boost farmers' and fisher folks' productivity, the province provided funding assistance for marginalized farming at P12,500 per farming household. This assistance complements the organizational and skills training of 577 groups consisting of 2,373 farmers that we undertook to boost the capacities of this sector. Other services provided by the province to help prop our competitiveness are in the area of hogs, poultry and beef production. In order to raise the quality of these products, we implemented the veterinary municipal visitation program where we were able to deworm 15,000 heads of animals and 23,800 livestock or poultry.
The collaboration between the Province and the National Line Agencies, such as the Department of Agriculture resulted to the implementation of agricultural support projects, such as farm to market roads, small irrigation systems, pre- and post harvest facilities, several infrastructure and natural resource management projects. Total amount devoted for these projects was P171.4 million. 
Strong domestic sales performance that were recorded at P93 million last year coupled with our export sales of $22 million further pushed the economy of Agusan del Norte to a higher level.  The DTI also reported that investment inflows rose from P1.7 billion in 2011 to P2.02 Billion in 2012. This economic interplay resulted to the creation of 14,557 new jobs. Interestingly, 50 percent hike in overseas employment was also noted as 4,726 workers were deployed overseas. Similarly, the rehiring of overseas workers posted a 49 percent increase or 4,491 compared to the 2011 figure. The role that our overseas workers play in keeping our economy strong need not be underscored. May I emphasize nonetheless:  Our OFW's are indeed true heroes. "They have all my respect and admiration." 
As an effect of our strong economy, we have started to cater to international industries, thus categorizing many of our business names as "borderless". Last year about 2,000 business ventures applied for registration.
 
3. PEACE, ORDER AND SECURITY
 
Peace, order and security are precursors to development. They set the environment for economic growth. For the past years, the province has steadily arrested the volume of crime. Crime Clearance dramatically improved from 28 percent in 2010 to 44.89 percent last year. Similarly, Crime Solution Efficiency has also improved from 40 percent in 2010 to 67.75 percent last year.
As evidence, we have arrested 152 of the 170 wanted persons. Our resolution to promote peace and security has been strengthened by multi-sectoral approach. Effective community involvement and information dissemination highlighted this collaboration.  
Our approach of promoting peace included pursuing the total human rehabilitation of offenders.  Last year we were able to lead 132 individuals into going back to the mainstream of community life. This approach enabled us to save over P2.4 million, money that was otherwise spent for the 132 individuals had they been kept in jail.
However, we did not only focus on the soft component of the peace and development program. Last year the province collaborated with the Office of the President in implementing P20Million worth of projects that provided accessibility to and from remote areas. These projects helped spur the economies of conflict sensitive communities.
 
4. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AND REHABILITATION
 
We have always been cognizant of the importance of the soundness of the environment, if we were to sustain all our development endeavors. This is why one of the agenda of this administration focuses on the environment. We have therefore continued to exert effort for the full restoration of our depleted mangrove areas. Again, in 2012, the provincial government planted some 106,000 propagules in 32 hectares of mangrove areas and distributed for planting 6,260 rubber seedlings, fruit trees and forest trees to 36 Integrated Social Forestry sites covering 60 hectares. This continuing effort is aimed at recovering the vegetation of our forest areas.
In support to these regenerative efforts, we also put in place six critical mitigating infrastructure projects costing some P7.3 million. These projects are aimed at preventing soil and riverbank erosions in environmentally critical areas. 
We also established the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council and its operating branches. Our endeavors in this area were so aggressive that in 2012, we were judged the only province in Caraga that passed the Level 1- Phase 1 verification conducted by the National Seal of Disaster Preparedness (SDP) Team of Evaluators. The SDP is conferred to local government units, which demonstrate an acceptable level of disaster preparedness and response before and during calamities.
 
5. FISCAL CAPABILITY AND SELF-RELIANCE
 
This administration always believes in the complementary roles of plans and budget. Hence, when we started out, we emphasized the need to generate more funds on top of what we traditionally receive. As a result, our hospitals have steadily contributed to our income generation drive. This is also true with our ENRO as well as the PGSO and even our demonstration farm at Los Angeles. This year, out of our traditional receipts, we generated as direct incomes and fund reflows the amount of  P 78.5 million. Our Hospitals was the highest contributor at P 42.6 million followed by the ENRO at P7.5 million.
Total collection reported by our Treasurer amounted to P658.2 Million, P549.7 Million of which came from our share of the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA). It can be gleaned that as our IRA increased, our local revenue also increased proportionally. 
 
6. DYNAMIC AND RESPONSIVE ADMINISTRATIVE CAPABILITY MECHANISM 
 
During the year in review, our province garnered different awards that recognized our efforts in instituting good governance. These awards included among others the following: 1) Gawad Pamana Ng Lahi with a prize of P 3Million; 2) Performance Challenge Fund with a cash prize of P7Million, and;   3) Seal of Good Housekeeping with cash prize of P10 Million. With these funds, we were able to implement seven peace and development and good governance support projects. 
The components of these recognitions highlighted our transparency and accountability directions through diligent pre-audit and availability of financial reports. Legal confidence in the strength of our legislative measures was also secured because the ordinances we adopted and approved were duly scrutinized by our legal office.
Partnering with the Executive Branch, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, the highest law making body of the province continued to deliver legislation that help alleviate the quality of life of the Agusanons. In 2012, the august body passed and approved 372 resolutions and enacted 22 ordinances. Prominent among these are landmark Ordinances supporting and adopting Organic Farming in Agusan del Norte and the Construction of the New Capitol Building/Extension Office at Cabadbaran City.
The quality of our collective inputs was monitored and measured by the LGPMS or the Local Government Performance Monitoring System and reported by the SLGR or the State of Local Government Report. I am proud to report that we have consistently garnered ratings that reflect excellence in governance. This comes among others through our hard work of providing technical and financial assistance to various levels.
I must again thank all our functionaries for their tireless devotion in enabling the provincial leaders achieve their targets. I hope that the Productivity Enhancement Incentives of P20,000 that the Province granted each provincial worker has encouraged them to work harder for the full realization of our targets. 
That year also, the provincial government has further strengthened its capacity to respond to the national thrust of inviting more visitors to see the "FUN in the PHILIPPINES" after we finalized our Tourism Master Development Plan. We are going to have it institutionalized this year.
The interplays of our investments are aimed at responding to our executive-legislative agenda. Last year we implemented 55 physical, socio-economic and environmental projects amounting to P124.2 million. This mix of projects is designed to secure for our people a safe and prosperous place to live. The province's economic support programs are enhanced by administrative enhancing projects through the implementation of 124 governance facilities amounting P221.8 million.
Accessibility plays an important role in development. Last year we were able to implement 17 primary road projects amounting P361.9 million. These road projects serve as the main accessibility network connecting the provincial and municipal arterial roads from the farm to the market - a vital component in our thrusts towards development.
Finally, our effort of bringing electrification to far-flung sitios gained strong headway with a funding assistance from President Benigno C. Aquino. Some 761 households located in unlighted far-flung sitios were provided with electricity. Project cost was P20.8 million. 
A detailed account of this report is contained in our Annual Accomplishment Report. An e-copy is available at the Provincial Planning and Development Office for the perusal of all concerned.
 
CLOSING STATEMENTS AND CHALLENGES
 
Provision of Basic Services and Developmental Thrusts are continuums that all leaders receive and pass on to other leaders. What is constant is the participation of the people whom these services are intended.  The task of promoting an environment where the basic needs of our constituents are met will continue to beacon, thus as leaders we are constantly challenged to be discerning and always be on our guard.
Many of us, especially the newly elected leaders and those whose mandates have been renewed will face diverse challenges.  Foremost of these is Poverty. While this concern has dramatically decreased, much remains to be done.  Our economy has continued to demonstrate strong upsurge. This why our challenge is to work even harder so that the benefits of development can reach the lower rung of the populace. Growth has to be inclusive.
 In all nine years as Provincial Governor of this Province, I have never experienced helplessness because the leaders, the officials, the government workers whom I serve with and the people whom I served for have always been with me in aspiration and devotion. I therefore thrust this challenge to all of us this afternoon. Let us continue to employ the same dynamics of cooperation and focused directions until the day when no Agusanon is found wanting or in need anymore; until our shared vision of prosperity and good life is finally realized. 
Thank you and God bless.  
 
 
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