By Governor Art Yap
On behalf of the people of Bohol, allow me to thank LoGIC Project or Local Governance Integrity Circles Network Project, co-funded by the European Union and Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, and European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines for this European Investment Mission.
I am appreciative of the EUâ€™s efforts to keep the dialogue despite the setbacks of COVID 19. Surely, many have been held down by the fears and uncertainties of the pandemic, but I am happy that this Investment Mission has brought people together to consider about getting back on track to reopen business and reconsider investment in Bohol and in the Philippines.
There are many reasons why it makes sense to invest in Bohol.
The primary consideration is Boholâ€™s ability and track record to manage COVID 19 pandemic. Having shown an ability to act fast and in conjunction with the LGUs and counterpart national agencies, Bohol in the last ten months was able to show that COVID 19 can be managed. Bohol has dedicated COVID 19 hospital with an operational PCR laboratory in the name of Gov. Celestino Gallares Memorial Hospital (DOH Hospital), and another province-owned and operated containerized and mobile PCR Laboratory which is delivering results within 48 hours. A close to P400-million equipment and hospital modernization program for Boholâ€™s province-owned hospitals and clinics are also underway.
The Province is also presently in the process of distributing more than 300,000 family-based contact tracing card, which are running on an online tracking, registration and contactless payments system which is harmonized for the use of tourists and transient visitors as well. The QR Code-based system was recently successfully tested when the Department of Tourism held the countryâ€™s largest tourism trade fair on a hybrid virtual conference in Philippine Travel Exchange 2020 in Panglao, Bohol last September 22-24, 2020.
Bohol today maintains strict protocols with the cooperation of all 48 LGUs and continues to maintain localized quarantine centers together with the PNP, Philippine Coast Guard, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and other counterpart national and local agencies. Local bed spaces for retuning OFWS and Locally Stranded Individuals number more than 9,000 beds. The results today are truly encouraging with less than 100 active cases at any given time in the last ten months, with more than 300 recoveries and 8 deaths. While we understand how Covid 19 has been a tragic catastrophe for our people, we have continued to work and have been blessed with the ability to manage this pandemic, and set the stage now to recover from it.
Other considerations also abound: the Philippinesâ€™ continued standing of enjoying preferences under our negotiated bilateral and multilateral trade agreements assures our investors and manufacturers an advantage when they ship to different parts of the world. Our youthful manpower continues to be educated, dedicated and competent to provide the labor force to power the industries that would locate in Bohol.
In terms of ports, we have various ports just scores of kilometers away from Cebu and in the near future, are set to complement and even provide, stand-alone facilities to export manufactured goods and produce from them. Tubigon, Loon and Getafe Ports are being expanded and work did not cease because of Covid 19. Boholâ€™s power is also being secured and upgraded with the NGCP Cebu to Bohol Submarine Line Power Connection and the ongoing bidding of Bohol 1 Powerâ€™s electricity needs to an energy to supply the three (3) major distribution utilities of Bohol through sustainable and environmentally friendly in-island generating capacities.
We may have a world class international airport operating in Panglao, but Bohol refuses to sit on its laurels. A third bridge is presently being built to connect Panglao Island with downtown-commercial Tagbilaran City, and plans are already underway to expand the bridge and connect it to a bypass expressway viaduct so that the newly developing northern municipalities of Bohol fronting Cebu can be linked to the tourism boom towns of Tagbilaran City, Dauis and Panglao.
Water which remains to be an investment preserve for the private sector will now be considered by the provincial government. In a P1-Billion investment program to be launched and implemented in 2021, the provincial government has identified more than 20 municipalities that will serve more than 450,000 local Boholanos with regard their domestic municipal water needs.
But Bohol understands that these investments can only be sustained by a resilient, strong and educated workforce, for which the provincial government will also be launching distance education/learning for the entire province, having a strong integrative program to address the myriad challenges affecting Boholâ€™s youth, continually having a strong cultural program as part of the academic and extra-curricular activities of the people, while linking and integrating this with Boholâ€™s tourism sector through education, training and showcasing programs, including building a permanent home for the arts and culture through a cultural centre for the Visayas in Tagbilaran City.
By November 15, 2020, Bohol is set to open the Municipality of Panglao to tourism groups. We hope that you can come to visit us and see and experience first-hand what we are doing for tourism and how we are now capitalizing on a new, possibly slower, yet a more decisive type of tourism that can make a dramatic change for food security and food processing in Bohol. Not only will we be showcasing how we are taking care of our environment but also how environment and water resources will be used as the fundamental basic platform to launch agriculture, fishery and food processing programs.
The Pre-Covid statistics of 1.5 million tourist arrivals and a captive 1.4 million local residents in an island province with seven freshwater basins and more than 4,000 square kilometers in area is a critical positive base to grow from.
With Boholâ€™s God-given position of being at the center of the country on the route of our central nautical trading highway and at the center of more than 30 million people as a market in the Central Philippines, we are more than confident that Bohol is the right place for our European investors to be in and prepare for a resurgent local economy.
The Virtual Business Mission for Bohol Province was organized and implemented by European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) in close partnership with the Provincial Government of Bohol, as well as in cooperation with the Local Government Integrity Circles (LoGIC) Network.
The three-hour Virtual Business Mission was primarily aimed at exploring business opportunities for supporting the business recovery of the LoGIC Network member LGUs and looking into possibilities for making investments and creating new jobs.
* Introduce the Province as a LoGIC Project preferred investment destination;
* Exchange information on business interests and investment/business ï¿½requirements of localities;
* Orient and match the business mission delegates on the business ï¿½opportunities the province; and
* Strengthen the network between local stakeholders and potential investors for ï¿½continuous consultations and dialog on business opportunities.
The Attendees included
* Bohol Local Government Units
* Local Economic and Investment Promotion Officers
* LoGIC ECCP Representatives
* Mission Delegates from the Private Sector
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