January 22, 2019

When I delivered my inaugural address on June 30 in time with our oath taking as newly elected city officials, I declared to you these words: “Tapos na ang pulitika. Tapos na ang bangayan. Umpisahan na naton ang paghatag sang maayo nga serbisyo sa katawhan sang Tacurong.” I am grateful that in the last six months, we were able to do that. The presence of all the department heads and members of the Sangguniang Panlungsod during the crafting of the Executive Legislative Agenda and updating of our Comprehensive Development Program in October last year was just one of the testaments to our commitment to unite despite our political affiliations. I continue to seek legislative support to our priority programs and projects.

On my first day in office and my first attendance to the flag ceremony, my first marching order to the city hall employees was to demonstrate courtesy and respect in the workplace, especially towards the clients availing of our services. ‘Bawal ang nagakurisong sa mga opisina sang city hall’ (Rude employees have no place in the workplace).

Management audit was on top of the list on my first 100 days in office and that was the sole agendum during our first executive meeting. I need to be appraised of the current structure of the organization and institute change where it is needed to improve the performance of our Local Government Unit as a whole, especially in the use of our human and physical resources.

What more have we done in the last six months?

Strengthening our fiscal administration

In a span of six months from July to December, our LGU was able to collect around P66.8-Million in local taxes. We are also taking pride that for the first time in several years, we gain a surplus of P122, 477,633.35. We exerted efforts to step up our local tax collection efficiency. We started going after business operators who failed to pay their taxes due to the city government. In the public market, we checked the records of stall holders and effected closure of establishments that were remiss in their tax obligations.

On the other hand, we want to continue to establish a business-friendly environment; hence the conduct of our annual Business One Stop Shop at the beginning of this fiscal year. This year, we recorded an increase in the number of establishments that applied for or renewed applications from 1,764 to 1,948.

In our effort to provide our businessmen with ease in doing business, our Business Permit and Licensing Office was conferred by the Office of Ombudsman Mindanao with the Blue Certification or Level II Certification on Registration and renewal of business permits. By achieving the Level II accreditation, our LGU was found to have implemented and maintained a system that conforms to the ease of doing business standards.

We usher the year 2020 having an annual budget of P655, 697,585.86.

Installation of CCTV system

Meanwhile, we were able to finally install and operate our CCTV system before we celebrated our Foundation Anniversary in September. Right now, our CCTV Command Center is operating 24/7 and manned by capable personnel on shifting duties. The 32 cameras set up around the key areas of the city will surely help in beefing up our security and monitoring. This project was started by the administration of former Mayor Lina Montilla.

Solar-powered street lights

To address citizens’ feedbacks swirling around the social media about our street lights, we have already initially addressed this. Before the end of 2019, we allocated P6-Million for 57-solar-powered street lights to be installed along the national highway traversing our city rotunda, especially from NDTC going to Barangay San Pablo. Out of the funding, P4-Million has already went through the bidding process and the installation is now on going. The program of works is being prepared for the remaining P2-Million allocation.

Putting up of dialysis center

Another important infrastructure project we were able to fund the amount of P9.3-Million from our 2019 is intended for the establishment of the city’s dialysis center. Details of the project are already in the works and more funds have been allocated for this year. Through this project, we can help alleviate the financial cost of patients affected by the growing statistics of illnesses related to kidney functions.  

Beefing up the anti-drug campaign

On our fight against illegal drugs, we continue to strengthen our City Anti-Drug Abuse Council and beef up our Community-Based Rehabilitation Program in the barangays. The CBRP has already been launched in the 20 barangays of the city and currently, we have under our care 707 individuals identified as Persons Who Used Drugs or PWUDs.

Roll out of Urban Nutrition Governance Program

During the roll out of our Urban Nutrition Governance Program in support to the First 1,000 Days Law, I did not hesitate to put my mayoralty on the line as I pledge for the success of this program. In our effort to curb malnutrition especially among children 0-23 months old, we’ll make sure that nutrition programs take a front seat in our funding prioritization. We are grateful for the support of Zuellig Family Foundation and Nutrition International, especially in choosing our LGU as one of the pilot cities in the country.

After rolling out the program to the 20 barangays and after we get the same commitment from all the barangay officials, we’ll ensure that all pregnant women will be tracked and given their nutritional needs; and that all children below two years old will be taken care of so that we can reduce if not eliminate cases of stunting and thinness among children in our city.

With the backing given by the members of the Sangguniang Panlungsod headed by Vice Mayor Lino Montilla who also sits as chairperson of the Committee on Health, Sanitation and Nutrition, I’m sure that we will succeed.

Livelihood support to cooperatives and the informal sector

We always take pride in promoting and supporting the entrepreneurial skills of the informal sector of our community through the various skills training and livelihood programs given to them through our City Social Welfare and Development Office, City Agriculture Office, and the Department of Labor and Employment through our Public Employment Service Office.

In the implementation of Department of Social Welfare and Development’s Sustainable Livelihood Program-Microenterprise Development Model, our city was recognized as one of three LGUs in the country that performed well. We were even evaluated for our national nomination under the PANATA-GAPAS Award for our outstanding implementation of SLP-MD.

Our CSWD-assisted SEA-K Associations continue to do well in their livelihood undertakings, while other LGU-supported associations are equally doing well. The Tacurong Terminal Vendors Association or TATVA, after succeeding in their Groceria Project, is embarking on its new water refilling business project after qualifying for an enhancement project worth P500-Thousand from DOLE.

Meanwhile, we also continue to support our cooperatives through the livelihood support fund of the Office for the Development of Cooperatives. The newly organized Credit Surety Fund is also a big help for the needs of our homegrown cooperatives.

The above-mentioned programs and projects were just some of the things that we did in the past few months under the new administration. We also remain committed to focus on other aspects of governance to provide a holistic approach to community development.

Scholarship & Youth Employment Program

In October last year, we had the relaunch of our scholarship program dubbed as Iskolar ng Lungsod ng Tacurong (ILT) after the amendments to the scholarship ordinance was approved by the Sanggunian. Both our qualified indigent students enrolled in private colleges and our only state university can avail of educational assistance. Assistance given to our current 54 beneficiaries will depend on how much tuition they are paying, while students enrolled with Sultan Kudarat State University will receive monthly stipends.

On the other hand, we continued giving summer employment to our youth through the Special Program for the Employment of Students or SPES in partnership with the DOLE. Last year, we employed more than 270 students to our employment program.

City Hall sa Barangay

We continued to implement one of the flagship programs of former Mayor Lina Montilla: the City Hall sa Barangay Project, which aims to bring the government services closer to the constituents. We kicked off our City Hall sa Barangay in the last quarter of 2019 and so far, we were able to reach six barangays until the end of the quarter. These barangays were: D. Ledesma, EJC Montilla, Kalandagan, Grino, Lancheta, and New Carmen. A total of 3,219 residents from said barangays were served by the various programs we rolled out and out of the total number, 2,544 or 79 percent availed of the medical and dental services.

Infrastructure projects (Farm to market roads)

We also continue the implementation of our infrastructure projects such as the construction of drainage canals and concreting of barangay roads or farm to market roads. Four road concreting projects were completed as of December 2019: the 279-meter road at the boundary of Purok New Negros, San Pablo and Barangay New Carmen; 99-meter concreting in Purok Pagkakaisa, San Pablo, 90-meter concreting in Purok Dahlia to Gumamela in Barangay Buenaflor, and 63-meter road in Purok Namnama along the road going to San Emmenuel National High School, Barangay San Emmanuel. These four road concreting projects have a total length of 531 meters with a budget of P7.1-Million.

Awards and recognitions

We feel grateful for the recognitions that we get but rest assured that we do not sit on our laurels. Nevertheless, allow me to state some of the recognitions that the LGU received in the past six months.

We start off by the prestigious bronze award on Program to Institutionalize Meritocracy and Excellence in Human Resource Management or PRIME-HRM conferred to us by the Civil Service Commission at the PICC Manila in July of last year. That award makes us as a certified CSC-empowered administration with developed human resource management competencies, systems, and practices. We are the only LGU in Sultan Kudarat and one of the only 15 cities in the country to receive the award.

On the other hand, our LGU also happened to have an employee in the person of Allan Freno to be conferred by President Rodrigo Duterte with the Dangal ng Bayan Award in September last year.

In December 2019, our City Peace and Order Council was recognized by the DILG as one of the best-performing City Peace and Order Councils in Region 12. Our competent CPOC had paved way for a peaceful Tacurong, especially during the conduct of our big celebrations.

On disaster response, our City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, also performed well in the past year and that was manifested after we placed second among cities in the region in the Gawad Kalasag Award. Our CDRRMC also did not limit our programs within the confines of out locality. In the wake of the series of earthquakes that rocked Cotabato Province few months ago, our city and many of our people showed the bayanihan spirit by donating food and other items to the victims of the calamity. We sent our help to our brothers and sisters in the barangays of Makilala, Tulunan, and Kidapawan.

Meanwhile, in November 2019, our city was named as national finalist of the Digital Governance Awards as conferred by the DILG and Department of Information and Communications Technology.

We are also being active in the Regional Development Council and in the League of Cities of the Philippines. As your mayor, I continue to have a regular seat in the RDC and during the 68th General Assembly of LCP in Manila in July last year, I was voted as Regional Representative of Region 12 mayors in the National Executive Board of the LCP.

Outside of the LGU, our fellow Tacurongnons have also put the name of our city on the map of their respective fields.

During the World Championship of Performing Arts held in California, USA, three dancers from Tacurong, the COALIXON Trio, raised the Philippine flag after becoming champion in the group dance category. In this Olympic version of international competition for performing arts joined by 70 countries in the world, the trio of Jegad Gapasin, Chris Jann Lloyd Jaugan and Welhart Acosta made us really proud.

On the other, we also made a huge impact in the world of sports. During the Southeast Asian Games, five of our arnis players under the tutelage of Grand Master Efren Apresto made it to the national team. Three of them competed and all of the three won medals for the Philippines. Jesfer Huquire and Sheena del Monte won gold medals while Erlin Mae Busacay contributed bronze medal. During their homecoming in December, our LGU gave our national team the heroes’ welcome in gratitude to their outstanding performance at the SEA Games.

What is in store for us in 2020?

Mainstreaming of sports

Since we capped our accomplishment report with what we have done in the field of sports, I’ll start laying out our programs for 2020 with updates on sports.

In a successful year punctuated by two Tacurongnons bagging gold medals at the SEA Games, we will increase our sports fund allocation to sustain our gains on sports and youth development. This 2020, we upped our sports budget by almost 50 percent. From P5-Million last year, we now have an allocation of P7-Million. We will improve our sports facilities, upskill our coaches and trainers, and give focus to grassroots development.

We will tap the services of Grand Master Efren Apresto to help us on our arnis program. Every year, we will have a massive Anyo Demonstration Competitions in arnis to be participated by all schools in Tacurong. We will establish our city as the arnis capital of the country and let this sport thrive in the way what South Korea did to taekwondo.

Meanwhile, aside from arnis, we will bring back the glory of badminton, dance sport, and taekwondo. We will also focus on chess, wushu and other sports disciplines that would contribute medals in national and international competitions.

During our meeting with City Physical Fitness and Sports Development Council this month, newly installed City Schools Division Superintendent Miguel Fillalan said that he is considering the inclusion of a sports track to the existing curriculum of the senior high school. If realized, that would be another milestone for our city.

There are many other development programs that we will undertake this year including the usual programs we deliver to our constituents every year. In this report, allow me to enumerate a few of our hard projects.

More infrastructure projects

1. Additional budget for dialysis center

As mentioned earlier, we already allocated P9.3-Million for the construction of our dialysis center from 2019 funds. This year, we allocated additional budget amounting to around P14.7-Million to bring our total budget for the project to P24-Million.

2. Redevelopment of 2-storey public market & purchase of heavy equipment

We have an approved P500-Million worth of credit line with Development Bank of the Philippines but out of that amount, we will be availing the P200-Million loan intended for the redevelopment of a 2-storey public market building and for the purchase of various heavy equipment of the city.

3. Additional budget for solar-powered street lights

Aside from the P6-Million budget for solar-powered street lights sourced out from 2019 funds, we have an allocation of another P10-Million for our street light projects this 2020. From that amount, P2-Million will be used to put up another 19 solar-powered light posts along Alunan Avenue traversing our city rotunda. The remaining budget will be used to put up street lights to our city streets including along portions of Lapu-Lapu Street, Magsaysay Avenue, and Ledesma Street.

In relation to this, our LGU has also coordinated with the Office of Senator Bong Go for our P50-Million fund request intended for more solar-powered street lights.

4. City Support Fund for Barangays

We continue the flagship program of former Mayor Lino Montilla that intends to empower countryside development through the allocation of P2-City Support Fund for each of the 20 barangays of the city or a total of P40-Million each year. However, we instituted some changes to the guidelines. Beginning this year, we are clustering the 20 barangays into five. In other words, the P10-Million intended for the five barangays will be utilized for one high-impact project that will benefit either one of the barangays or all barangays belonging in the cluster.

5. Redevelopment of Magsaysay Park

Last year, our city had received fund assistance from the national government through the Department of Budget and Management amounting to P8-Million intended for the redevelopment of the Magsaysay Park. This year, we expect the coming in of additional P14-Million for the second tranche of the fund assistance. This funding assistance falls under the ‘Green, Green, Green Program’ of the DBM that aims to make all cities in the country more livable and sustainable through the development of open spaces.

6. Establishment of city fuel depot

To centralize the budget for our fuel utilization, we have allocated an initial P2-Million fund for the establishment of our own on-site fuel storage. In this way, our LGU will be able to save money because when we buy fuel in bulk, we can enjoy lower prices. As well as saving us money, on-site fuel storage can save us time and energy, making it a highly efficient option. Time will not be wasted travelling to off-site locations in order to fill up.

7. Purchase of lots (Land banking)

Our city has a P30-Million budget allocation for the purchase of lots intended for the expansion of our sanitary landfill, resettlement sites, seed farms, and other uses.

8. Progressive construction of Multi-Purpose Building & Legislative Building

We would like to fast-track the completion of our Multi-Purpose Building that is why we are allocating P10-Million for this year as additional funds. That fund is on top of the previous P10-Million allocated last year and the P6-Million budget in 2016.

On the other hand, we have an additional P5-Million allocation for the construction of our legislative building.

9. Beautification of Interactive Fountain

The construction of our Interactive Fountain was done because of the initial P2.4-Million we receive from the DILG as incentive of Performance Challenge Fund as SGLG awardee. Our LGU allotted a counterpart fund amounting to P5.6-Million. In 2019, the LGU allocated an additional P3-Million for its completion. This year, we have another P3-Million for the beautification of its oval area.

10. Centralized sound system for city gym & additional budget for CCTV system

After finally installing the air conditioning system inside our City Cultural and Sports Center, we will be setting up a centralized, high quality sound system. We allocated P4-Million for that purpose.

Meanwhile, on top of the P7-Million funding for our CCTV system that finally began to operate in September last year, we have an additional P2-Million allocated this year to strengthen the operation of our 24/7 command center.

The aforementioned infrastructure projects are just some of the projects we have funded and to be implemented this 2020. We have many other undertakings on various fronts as we continue to fulfill our mandate to serve the people of Tacurong.

In closing, I would like to reiterate my gratitude to the legislative support of the Sangguniang Panlungsod to our priority programs and projects. My gratitude also goes to the department heads and employees of the LGU for the usual support and cooperation to all our endeavors. I also convey my thanks to our partners from national government agencies, civil society organizations, and other stakeholders. To my family, relatives and friends who have been with me from the very beginning, thank you so much.

Sa mga pumuluyo sang syudad sang Tacurong, padayon kami nga magaserbisyo para sa kaayuhan kag kauswagan sang aton syudad. Above all, my gratitude to God the Almighty for giving me the strength to keep on serving the people of our city.