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Home About Us State of the Province Address STATE OF THE PROVINCE ADDRESS 2009

STATE OF THE PROVINCE ADDRESS 2009

When I accepted the mantle of leadership of the Province several years ago, I had one dream – a happy Agusanon living amidst a backdrop of opportunities and plenty. Five years then, we have seen the province course through the complexities of development. The state of the province is measured by the well-being of its populace, specifically on poverty incidence.  We see economic growth as one necessary condition to alleviate the situation. As we pursued our relentless drive against this social predicament through economic growth, we have narrowed the gap between our desired level against the actual level of poverty. But as our population grows so does the demand to adapt to change. Limited funding may constrain us to spread thinly our resources but our focus is clear and still remains. To look for other sources and give priority to the most needy and vulnerable sectors of our society – that is the poor and the underprivileged.  

Our poverty incidence then was hovering at 60%. It presented a great challenge to the people of Agusan del Norte. Poverty reduction and its attendant support strategies has then become our core target, believing that if we can put in place the right mechanism to address the problem, we can confidently say to those whom we pledged to serve --------                  “Mission Accomplished”.

Today, as I submit our accomplishments for the year 2008, I would like to start by announcing that the NSCB or the National Statistical Coordination Board has reported that our poverty incidence has already gone down to 35.2%. This is a 45% reduction from the figure in 2002. The remaining terms of this administration will focus on reducing further poverty in Agusan del Norte.  

The efforts this province pursues are embodied in the 6 Point Agenda we adopted when we first started out. This afternoon, I will be reporting major and significant accomplishments for the year 2008. Details of this report are contained in the larger volume which we are distributing in electronic copies. You may get a copy at the Provincial Governor’s Office or the Provincial Planning and Development Office.  

The year 2008 saw basic services provided thru efficient and cost-effective means. We have to do this because our resources are so scarce. Nonetheless, we were able to provide cash assistance in the amount of     P 2.2 million pesos to the most needy, complementing the medical services we provided to about 4,709 indigents. We also provided dental services to over 600 people. For our needy children, we were able to serve 8,223 children in our existing day care centers. And to at least mitigate hunger, the Food for School Program provided a kilo of rice a day to families with day-care, pre-school or elementary school children while the Tindahan Natin ensured availability of rice at lower prices for poor families. Fourteen major health care programs which included the purchase of medical equipment to insure better health service for our people were also implemented. Finally, we released more than P 5 million pesos as our counterpart for the universal PhilHealth coverage of 20,723 poor households.  

We can attribute the gains we had in our health sector to the collaborative efforts we did with other agencies. Infant Mortality Rate during the year in review significantly went down from 4.87 per 1000 persons in the previous year to 2.97 per 1000 persons in 2008. We were also able to control the incidence of Acute Respiratory Infection. In 2007, there were 979 cases. Fortunately, in 2008 we were able to bring it down to 701 cases.  Out of the 455 found positive of schistosomiasis, 100% were treated. With continuous care, these persons will be totally cured – that’s our foresight. The reduction of dengue cases from 117 in 2007 to 76 in 2008 is a demonstration of our serious effort to be eventually free from that fatal disease. For the last two (2) years we achieved zero malaria mortality due to early detection and prompt treatment by our local health heroes in the communities and the barangays.  We have maximized our reach in immunization through the Garantisadong Pambata Strategy by achieving 100% in the target for fully immunized children.  On health and sanitation, 87% of the households already have access to sanitary toilet. This is more than the DOH benchmark of 81%.  Almost all households or 98% now have access to safe and potable water supply. 

To insure readily available and inexpensive quality medicines, the province maintains 46 Botika ng Barangays (BnBs) in its entire eleven component LGUs. It is worthy mentioning that as of 2008, the P 1.2 million capitalization received by these BnBs have already generated a gross sales of   P 2.4 million, posting an income of P 743,833.15.  Net profit was                        P 460,000.00  or  an ROI of 35%. 

Despite pressing demands and meager resources, our hospitals continue to discharge its functions aligned with our 6 Point Agenda. In 2008, our bed occupancy rate was 103%. The provincial government initiated several programs for our hospitals. Among others, the improvement of wards and private rooms; acquisition of new ambulance units; installation of state of the art X-Ray Machine and procurement of hospital equipment such as ECG, defibrillator and autoclave ; construction of buildings; and hiring of new doctors and health personnel.   

Our efforts to educate our people especially the school age population resulted in encouraging gains. We attained increased pupil participation by 11.08% in the elementary level and 6.00% in the secondary level. Conversely, drop-out rate decreased by 43.95% in the elementary level and 109.76% in the secondary level. Our achievement level posted very encouraging results when we attained an average Mean Percentage Score (MPS) of 78.17%, 3.89% higher than the National Benchmark of 75%. And due to the strong support of the LGUs, we were able to build 26 more classrooms in 2008.  Mindful that providing quality intellectual and ICT facilities through computerization and internet connectivity would enable our school children to compete in a highly technological world, we equipped 30 elementary and secondary schools with computer laboratory and 12 with internet connectivity.

Accessibility for our people to reach the service areas, markets and socio-economic facilities has been a prime concern of the province. This is why we invested P65 million for 45 Infrastructure projects of various categories. This included the maintenance of 83 roads (Provincial and Farm to Market Roads). Through our partners at the Department of Public Works and Highways, we have further implemented 53 public work projects amounting to over P 326 million pesos. 

The energization program of the Province is well on schedule. During the year in review, 5 more barangays (Tinigbsan and Tagpangahoy of Tubay, Camagong of Nasipit, Cuyago of Jabonga and Malpoc of Buenavista) were included in our expansion programs resulting to their energization. We will continue to work in this area until no single household is left deprived of this amenity. 

The full impact of these interventions has yet to be felt. With everyone’s cooperation, I believe that we are sowing the right seed for a healthy Agusan del Norte.  

The outcome of our efforts previously cited had bearings on our economy as demonstrated by significant gains posted by our Provincial Economy. Investment inflows in 2008 totaled P 747 million including investments in agriculture like cassava and abaca production. Total jobs created were 5,035. Domestic sales on the other hand were recorded at P 80.9 million. 

To strengthen productivity, over 8,000 workers were given vocational and technical trainings. Livelihood assistance benefiting 1,561 persons and costing P 1.5 Million were also granted to 6 associations. 

Our efforts at empowering our farmers saw the distribution of 2,932 hectares to CARP beneficiaries. As of 2008, a total of P 1.1 Billion was already invested to further strengthen the capability of our farming sector to contribute to the provincial economy. These investments included support services like the Irrigation systems at Las Nieves and Farm to Market Roads in Kitcharao and Jabonga, to mention a few.

To underscore the importance of agriculture in our economic growth, we continued to provide fertilizers amounting to P 1.4 million to over 2,700 farmers. These inputs were complemented with technical assistance and extension support services to over 9,000 farmers in the form of trainings and farming materials and implements. Total palay seed subsidies were estimated at P 8.4 million. With these inputs, our palay yield was recorded at 4.4 metric tons per hectare or about 90 cavans per hectare. These, despite the effects of calamities like typhoons and drought on our farm productivities.  In order to address the pressing problem of rice farmers particularly on the low price of palay during harvest season, the province set forth the operation and implementation of the Palay Price Equalization Fund to stabilize the price to its normal level. P 2.5 M was downloaded to Jabonga being the conduit of the project.  

Our support in increasing food sufficiency continues to be a major thrust. Last year, we started works for various phases of 2 irrigation projects located at Guinabsan and Maningalao. We will continue to invest in these areas until the gap in irrigation is totally filled. 

The production areas of the province have bright prospects of increasing since the Inventory of Forest Occupants (IFO) in the LASBUENASCAR was already started and has been on going.  

We also implemented Special Projects in the Agricultural Sector. Over        P20 million were invested in 9 projects under the Caraga Integrated Development Plan (CIDP) to boost agricultural productivity. This includes Construction of Farm to Market Roads at Jabonga, Santiago, Buenavista and Las Nieves. Another P 15 million was earmarked to complete four Farm to Market Roads under the SELAP or the Support to Livelihood Assistance Program. Fifteen Natural Resource Management related programs costing     P 4.5 million were also assisted. To generate income and employment in the communities, we released P1M to the Self-Assistance Kaunlaran Program.  This assistance provided household income for the poor.  Also, we reached out to farmers and livestock owners by intensifying veterinary assistance efforts to the different barangays. A total of 17,156 farmers were provided with veterinary services. Through the Hunger Mitigation Project, 528 heads of kabir chickens and 66 heads of goats were dispersed to 132 farmer-beneficiaries throughout the province. 

We implemented this mix of programs and strategies to continue pump priming our provincial economy. We will continue to do so until we can see that the Agusanon is wealthy and prosperous. 

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A peaceful Agusan del Norte is a precursor to a prosperous Agusan del Norte. Our law enforcers, I am proud to report have done a good job. Crime Solution Efficiency   was 95.35% in 2008. This record is the outcome of Community Participation in crime prevention. As a result, crimes like illegal drugs and illegal gambling as well as insurgency and criminality have decreased. Our quest for a peaceful Agusan del Norte shall continue. 

Another important element of our agenda is becoming self-reliant. One measure of this thrust is the resource generation output of the province. In 2008, we assessed 73,100 parcels of real properties and valued these properties at P 1.9 billion. The real property tax generated from this assessment contributed to the P 465,403,000 collected by the province in 2008.  However, I would like to particularly mention that about P 22 million of our collection was generated from our Income Generating Projects. Fees and permits amounting to P 13 million also contributed a sizable portion of our local collection.

Our strategy was to leverage these resources to improve our fiscal capability. We shall continue to be strategic in utilizing these resources so that our goal of becoming self reliant is attained. 

Cognizant of the fact that we have only one planet, we have made it a policy to contribute to its preservation and sustainability. The Province of Agusan del Norte continues to join hands with the environmental sector in the protection of 110,805 hectares of our forest through agroforestry development, support to the Clean and Green Philippine Project and the reactivation of the Multi-Sectoral Forest Protection Committee as well as the Mobilization of the Wildlife Enforcement Team. We also completed the vulnerability assessment of watersheds comprising 16,920 hectares. These assessments are critical in maintaining the good condition of our watersheds. We have also involved ourselves in the Agusan River Basin Water Sustainability activity which resulted to the establishment of water sampling stations aimed at monitoring the water quality of the Agusan River. To further promote environmental balance, we forged a Memorandum of Agreement with the LGU of Tubay and 3 mining companies for the implementation of the “Tubay Mining Cum Tourism Development Planning” project aimed at harmonizing mining activities with tourism.  We have also provided financial counterpart to the operation of the Lake Mainit Integrated Area Development Program. As of 2008, investment for the environmental health of the Lake has already reached P 40.8 Million. We are happy to be a part of that undertaking.  Perhaps this is why in 2008 your humble servant was elected as Chairman of the Lake Mainit Development Alliance Board. 

Solid waste issues have also been our concern.  In 2008, we were able to establish the implementing and institutional mechanism of Solid Waste Management. We will continue to exert efforts until all local government units in the province are able to comply with International Solid Waste Management Standards. We will continue to work for the protection and sustainability of the environment.  

Before I wind up our 2008 accomplishment report allow me to mention with gratitude the individuals and institutions who have been continually partnering and cooperating with this administration to serve the people of Agusan del Norte. I’d like to mention particularly our barangay captains who through these years, have always been serving in the forefront of basic service delivery. The members of the legislative bodies, notably our Sangguniang Panlalawigan, headed by the Honorable Vice Governor Enrico R. Corvera who during the year in review, passed 475 Resolutions and 17 ordinances covering a wide spectrum of issues affecting the lives of our people including among others the General Revision of Real Property Taxes.  The Legitimization process on the other hand of the Environmental Code of Agusan del Norte, the Investment Incentive Code, and the Children’s Code of 2008 were started. And two weeks ago these landmark legislations were already passed by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan. 

Our provincial workforce were instrumental in the implementation of 23 projects amounting to P101 million. In order to insure that the objectives of our programs are attained, our Multi-Sectoral Monitoring Team evaluated 185 projects implemented in our barangays. These efforts allowed the province to be on track with our development roadmap. 

The Provincial Development Council on the other hand, approved and endorsed the Annual Investment Plans of the all the component local government units by incorporating these plans to the Provincial Annual Investment Plan on time resulting to the prompt approval and operationalization of our budgets. 

Last year, our LGUs from the Barangays, especially the newly elected Barangay Officials, were provided with trainings to keep them attuned with the current demand of public service. 

In order to encourage further our partners and the other stakeholders in development and to be on the right direction in establishing a dynamic and responsive administrative mechanism, the Provincial Government promoted the awards and merit system. This strategy was applied at various levels. Last year, we awarded outstanding performers in the Lupong Tagapamayapa. For the City Category, Barangay Kauswagan of Cabadbaran got the first place. For the 1st to 3rd Class municipalities, Brgy. 10 of Buenavista was 1st place. Other awarded performances were for the Best Performing Barangay Peace and Order Committee.  

To cap it all, the Province of Agusan del Norte bagged the “People’s Choice Award” for our web site entry. This award brought pride and honor to the province. Our effort in touching our constituencies has been made more efficient and effective. I invite you to visit our website at www.agusandelnorte.gov.ph

The quest for a prosperous Agusan del Norte continues. For the remaining terms of this Administration, we shall continue to address the needs in Health and Nutrition, Water and Sanitation, Basic Education, Income and Livelihood, Peace and Order, Good Governance and Environmental Sanctity.  

I was in the United States a few weeks ago to attend the International Visitors’ Leadership Program of the US State Department. My stay there gave me the opportunity to observe up close what makes America the progressive and powerful country that it is. What I found out surprised me. It was not so much that their leaders were good, but it was more of their people believing that they can shape their own destiny. 

Agusan del Norte is undeniably the number one province in our region. How I wish that it can be, to a large degree, attributable to its local leaders. But just like the United States, good leadership is only part of the equation. The other part is our thoughtful and rationale people who decided to choose commitment over indifference.  

The idea to be continuously number one is a daunting task. But I have great faith in our province and in our people that I firmly believe being number one is our special destiny. It is a glorious burden that only we as Agusanons are strong enough to bear. 

The call to serve, therefore, ladies and gentlemen goes on.  

Thank you and God bless.


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