Imee cites vision, gains of Ilocos Norte in Sopa

>> Monday, November 7, 2016

By Jennifer T. Pambid

LAOAG CITY –Gov. Imee Marcos delivered here her seventh state of the province address (SOPA) Oct. 28 saying the wheels of a vision she had set in making Ilocos Norte a livable, sustainable and resilient province were in motion.
About 7,000 attended the event,  saying the province’s livability, which is the first pillar of development, requires people’s access to basic human needs such as food, shelter, clothing, and mobility.
The growth in transportation was felt in the province since the provincial government launched Metro Ilocos Norte Council which organized operators of public utility vehicles.
The program provided affordable gasoline and access to life insurance and PhilHeath benefits.
            Recently, the provincial government launched the Sirib shuttle bus granting 50% discount fare to students.
            “We must work towards car-light city centers so those who live and work in Metro Ilocos…will no longer require cars to get around. In the next few years car sharing, taxis, electric cars and bicycles for public-use should become options.”
            Marcos also vowed support to the health sector by providing free maintenance medicines to senior citizens and upgrading the provincial hospitals. The provincial government will also seek to grant stipend to senior citizens.
            In enriching language and culture, “creative place-making” spaces will also be developed.  Marcos said there are three spaces that constitute such: home, workplace and public spaces such as plazas, beaches, terminals, and restaurants wherein “we congregate and form social capital, binding friendships and volunteer associations.”
The second pillar of development, Marcos said, is sustainability of environment and economy.
 Environmental sustainability is strengthened through the “Green Wall of Ilocos Norte” with already 150,000 trees planted around the province.
By year 2020, the provincial government aims to increase the number by up to 400%.
            “City centers too can support biodiversity. The City of Batac plans to become ‘park city’ by developing MMSU lagoon, Aglipay Park, Marcos Park, Ricarte Park and various eco-parks.”
On sustaining the province’s economy, Marcos said, creation of jobs is a necessity. 
She cited entry of two business processing outsourcing companies which opened employment opportunities to hundreds of young professionals.
            “Tourism continues to drive employment, as we develop new destinations,”  Marcos added, with the opening of new attractions such as Taoid museum, Balai Dingras, Paoay Convent Ruins, and Burgos light house. 
            The provincial government is also seeking to provide free college education.
            “Free college is possible and all poor but deserving students can graduate. Sasagutin ng probinsya at (Mariano Marcos State University) ang matrikulang mahigit kumulang P30 million na binabayaran ng mga mag-aaral ngayon,”she said. 
Some 300 students affected by Typhoon ‘Lawin’ were given P5,000 financial assistance for next semester.
            “We shall also be retrofitting old provincial and government buildings so they will be sustainable and efficient. We are aggregating power usage of public buildings to rationalize and save energy, and finally exploit our provincial renewable sources.”
            The third pillar of development, resiliency, also needs to be strengthened by implementing early evacuation and recovery system such as cash- and food-for-work.
Marcos said a centralized emergency hotline 911 will be launched this November.
            “Lahat tayo kailangan magkaroon na ng 911 Hotline, na ang reresponde tulad sa Davao ay ang pulis, firetruck at ambulansya.”
            The program ended with distribution of P5,000 educational assistance, livestock, sacks of rice and fertilizer and other assistance to Ilocanos who were severely affected by recent typhoon ‘Lawin.’

            “With our deep reserves of social capital and team-puyog (unity), I am confident that together Ilocos Norte will prevail over the wreckage and destruction of typhoon ‘Lawin.’ With faith and prayer, with our native strength, we will endure these most difficult times,” Marcos said. 


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