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The Speech of Bohol Vice-Governor Julius Caesar F. Herrera
« on: July 10, 2007, 12:27:21 PM »
1st Regular Session of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Bohol

Speech of Vice-Governor Julius Caesar F. Herrera
July 6, 2007, Friday, SP Session Hall

My esteemed colleagues in this august body, fellow members in the government service, our friends from the media, the people who gave us our trust, friends, ladies and gentlemen, good morning.

The Sangguniang Panlalawigan is convened today on its first regular Session for the term 2007 until 2010. We are here today because of the sovereign mandate of the Boholano people, and I am standing before you because for the third time the Boholanos have shown their overwhelming support for me as Vice Governor. I am proud of this achievement but at the same time I am humbled by the continued trust and confidence. This gives me assurance and renewed energy to push forward with the programs and projects which I have initiated.

Having devoted most of my years in government service, heading the Sangguniang Panlalawigan as its Presiding Officer was a whole new experience. The past six years have been challenging and fruitful. While there may be moments of conflicting opinions, it was also in those times when the wheels of democracy turned and the essence of legislative independence was felt. Indeed, the democratic process, if allowed to blossom to the fullest, brings forth the best results.

Distinguished colleagues, today, we embark on our collective task of continuing our mission of governance. We cannot afford to fail our people, not at this time when Bohol is on the road to development. It is my hope that we will rise to the occasion by working even harder, making the right moves and consolidating our efforts towards a unified Bohol.

As a tradition at the opening session of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, let me report for the record what has so far been achieved.

Under my stewardship, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Bohol from July 2004 to June 2007 yielded high impact legislations.

First, the Sanggunian deliberated, passed and approved 104 Ordinances and 1,873 resolutions including the 2005 to 2007 annual provincial budgets and a number of laws of local application.

Among the more important pieces of legislations which had been approved by this august body, is the adoption and approval of the Bohol Agriculture Master Plan. A product of a multi-sectoral cooperation, the Master Plan shall serve as the road map for Bohol ’s agricultural development for the next five years. Through this, we can be able to develop comparative advantage of municipal LGUs by strengthening their local agricultural industries without losing focus of the direction we are setting together as one province. For a long time, Bohol has been a predominantly agricultural province and we intend to make agriculture a major component of our development strategy.

There are other agriculture related legislations to include a resolution supporting the procurement of certified hybrid seeds to be made available to farmers through subsidy under the Ginintuang Masaganang Ani Program and an appropriation ordinance for the Let’s Help Bohol Program and localized artificial insemination program.

This body also approved a resolution urging the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist to make available the utilization of upland rice varieties as an alternative, particularly during the dry season and long droughts.

Consequently, we passed a resolution authorizing the Governor to sign a Memorandum of Agreement with the National Irrigation Administration in the implementation of the Balikatan Sagip Patubig program in the towns of Ubay, Tubigon, Loboc, Sierra-Bullones and Pilar. We also requested the allocation of funds for the construction of additional water impounding projects to help ease our farmers’ need for adequate supply of water. In all these, we deliver the message to our people that the government will be an active partner in the efforts towards agricultural progress.

In support of Bohol’s growing tourism industry, one we considered as the province’s economic driver, we passed an ordinance approving the Bohol Tourism Master Plan and feasibility study on the six tourism clusters of the province. This is a step forward in our quest to re-package Bohol’s tourism into a more inviting and invigorating tourist haven. Bohol is now among the country’s most prominent tourist destinations. We have to make sure that there will be a comprehensive plan to coordinate development otherwise we will become a victim of our own success.

Knowing the importance of protecting our environment and our natural resources, the Sanggunian approved the acquisition of office hardware for use in the development of the Eco-Tourism and Biodiversity Conservation Framework Plan. This long-term program will serve as a useful tool to guide the LGUs and the NGOs in their respective environmental programs. We also passed a resolution declaring the Danajon Barrier Reef as heritage site and protected seascape. And to assist in the enforcement of environmental protection laws, we granted financial assistance for fuel allocation to seaborne patrols watching over Pamilacan seas. Environmental protection is a continuing concern, not a one-shot deal.

In the area of health, the SP granted authority for the Governor to enter into a Memorandum of Partnership for the establishment of health plus outlet or botica sa barangay. Likewise, the Sanggunian successfully enacted an ordinance creating the Provincial HIV/AIDS Multi-Sectoral Council. Moreover, equipping our barangay health workers with the basic equipment in the discharge of their duties directly to the grassroots has been the foremost of our health and social services programs thru the distribution of BHW kits. Of the present, we were able to distribute some 2,642 kits to BHWs all over the province.

Looking after the interest of the differently-abled Boholanos, we passed a resolution requesting architects, engineers and contractors to strictly implement the Accessibility Law in the design and construction of building and facilities. We also approved the proposed construction of a resource center for differently-abled persons.

For our provincial government employees, we recently approved the ordinance appropriating funds for the implementation of the 10% salary increase beginning March 2007. Although, this may not be sufficient to erase debts, it is considerable enough to make ends meet. For the past 3 years, we approved the Appropriation ordinance for the payment of additional/extra cash gift to qualified employees. We even passed an ordinance granting Performance bonus to qualified contractual and job order casual workers in 2005. We also approved an Appropriation Ordinance for the partial implementation of the 5% Magna Carta of Public Health Workers (Hazard Pay). We also submitted a resolution requesting Congress to exempt all qualified minimum wage earners getting a salary below Five Thousand Pesos in both government and private sectors from paying tax liabilities. Our workers need to be encouraged if we want them to perform their responsibilities well.

Second, the SP currently utilizes a Committee Secretariat patterned after the structure of the Philippine Senate. The system allows a focused legislative research work for each of the SP Committees by having a committee secretary and a stenographer assigned for such purpose. For the past 6 years, the Committee Secretariat was reorganized and strengthened to meet the ever-expanding responsibilities of a legislator.

Third, apart from the legislative work within the halls of the Sanggunian, we also initiated the Training on Barangay Legislation in 2005. The project aims to provide assistance to barangay officials by offering on-site training on legislative process, parliamentary procedure, drafting of ordinances and resolutions, and basic written communications.

As of this time, a total of 18 towns have availed of this training, 5 towns each for the First and Third Districts and 8 towns in the Second District. A total of 4,983 barangay officials have undergone this training. For this year, we are planning to evaluate randomly selected barangays who have undertaken the training. This will be an opportunity for us to assess the impact of the training on the legislative performance of the barangays.

Fourth, we have undertaken the renovation and improvement of the additional seven offices of the Board Members. In 2004, we renovated the Senator Benigno Aquino Session Hall, Pre-Conference Room, Vice Governor’s Office and four offices of the Board Members. And just this Monday, we witnessed the blessing of the additional offices for BMs. More than a mere face lift, this initiative was undertaken to create a conducive working environment thereby bringing more competent, efficient and quality service for the Boholanos.

Fifth, we are continually reinforcing the capacities of our Sangguniang Panlalawigan employees through legislative trainings, skills seminars and values re-orientation activities. I believe that our human resource is our greatest asset. Thus, we need to regularly update their skills and to stimulate their creativity to be able to meet the growing demands of their jobs.

These accomplishments are the fruition of hard work, commitment and cooperation of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan Team. It is our way of giving back to the Boholano public in return of their trust and confidence.

The Sangguniang Panlalawigan is the bastion of open deliberations and consolidated decisions. And it has always been my advocacy to keep the independence, transparency and integrity of the Sanggunian. We shall not allow anyone, more so its members, to undermine the integrity of this august body. Neither shall we permit anybody to take advantage of the SP as a springboard for their personal political agenda.

While there may have been previous attempts to discredit the authority of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan or efforts to unduly influence its decision, such attempts failed. Why? Because the Sangguniang Panlalawigan is an independent and impartial body that will not allow itself to be manipulated by any individual, group or authority. We shall always stand with the distinct honor of delivering genuine public service. Keeping this tradition is our way of showing to our constituents that they are and will always be our number one consideration.

As we begin another term, I am filled with optimism and hope for the future of Bohol. This will be an opportunity for us to move forward and make big our dream to be “10 at 2010”, that is to be among the top 10 provinces by year 2010.

This we shall attain, if we continue to focus our strategies and resources on poverty reduction. But to fast track poverty reduction in the province, we need to strengthen our agriculture, eco-tourism and education.

First, we shall initiate the enactment of an Eco-Tourism Code. With a growing tourism industry, it is important that we have the necessary legislations which can help uplift the industry and at the same time set-up safe guards not only for our environment but also for the local inhabitants.

Second, we shall undertake the creation of the Women and Children’s Code with Implementing Rules and Regulations. While there was a previous Children’s Code, it was rendered ineffective due to the absence of its implementing rules. This time, we are going to make it right by ensuring multi-sectoral participation and a thorough review of its regulations.

Third, we will be passing the Anti-Rabies Ordinance particularly strengthening the Bohol rabies prevention and eradication program. The ordinance is promoting responsible pet ownership at the household levels. It also seeks to control the dog population and maintain zero incidence of dog strays in the province. We will have the ordinance for 2nd and final reading today and with your support, it will be approved by this august body.

Fourth, to keep our ordinances up-to-date and in synch with the present times, it is essential that we be able to amend our existing codes on administration, revenue and environment. I hope that the concerned SP Committees will prioritize the revision of the Codes.

Fifth, in the field of agriculture, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan will be strongly supporting the Bohol Agricultural Value Chain Study. This program seeks to develop competitive local agricultural products that meet specific market demand. The market share of local agricultural products can be increased by upgrading agricultural services, infrastructure and process along the value chain. This will spell out increased agriculture productivity and active economic enterprise for the Boholanos.

Finally, we shall give greater attention to education largely on the utilization of the Special Education Fund and the budget for education. With the alarming decline of academic performance in our public schools, I urge the Honorable Governor to consider a multi-sectoral approach towards the use of the SEF. I also call on the members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan to set-aside a portion of their discretionary fund for education. More than ever, now is the best time to prepare our future by giving our young Boholanos quality of education

In this connection, we are glad to note that the implementation of the E-Library services at the Bohol Provincial Library proved to be most useful for our students and researchers. Hence, we shall continue to expand our library services through the purchase of updated books and the mobilization of our book mobile in the different barangays.

It is also vital for this august body to be reminded of the guiding principle that our province should be spending for impact while living within our means. Considering our financial limitations, there is a call for us to maximize the use of our resources and to synchronize our plans and programs.

All these shall serve as the direction of the legislative agenda of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan. For this, we shall work closely with the Provincial Executive by way of enacting ordinances and resolutions that will complement their strategies. While we may at times disagree over some details, such disagreements should never stop us from working together to achieve our common goal.

At this juncture, allow me to acknowledge the six new members to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan. From the First District, Former Loon Mayor Cesar Tomas Lopez and Mr. Alfonso Damalerio II. From the Second District, returning Board Member and former Inabanga Mayor Josephine Socorro Jumamoy. From the Third District, Former Alicia Mayor Bienvenido Molina, Former Carmen Vice Mayor Josil Trabajo and Atty. Aster Apalisok-Piollo. Everyone, let us welcome our new Board Members with a round of applause.

Again, we welcome all of you to the SP and we are optimistic that your diverse fields of knowledge and experiences would provide fresh legislative concepts and ideas. Your fellow colleagues and our employees are ready to extend assistance as you weave your way in this new environment and as you orient yourselves with your functions and duties.

Together let us set our sights in the attainment of our legislative agenda and then buckle down to work. Our mission is clear, our mandate is strong and it is incumbent upon all of us to work together to deliver what this province needs to succeed.

We each have a vital role in our province – as workers, employers, family members, neighbors, members of civic or religious organizations, or public servants. Let us all do our best, each in our own way, to work together to build a better Bohol. May God bless us always as we serve His people.

Thank you very much.

Romans 10:9
"That if you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you shall be saved."

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Vice governor calls attention to sinking Bohol

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