Governor's Ulat sa Bayan

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by: governor vicente s. gato

232nd batanes foundation day celebration

26 june 2015


            A pleasant and a very warm welcome to each and everyone of you here present this morning and those listening in their homes over their transistor radios via Radyo ng Bayan, “Kapian kamu nu Dios atavu”.  May God look upon us graciously.


            In June 2011, this very same day we launched the Medium Term Development Plan of the province for 2011 to 2020, entitled Life and Living in Batanes.  The theme that cuts across the whole plan is no less than “Ecological Conservation and Cultural Preservation”.  It spells out our common aspirations as a people and a community, as well as evokes our distinct identity and character as Ivatans molded out from our harsh environment and isolation as a province.


            So that it is for this reason that I am honored and thankful to our beloved Mayor of Basco, Hon. Demetrius Paul Narag and his committee members who were task to spell out our theme for this year.


            The theme for this year’s 232nd Batanes Foundation Day Celebration: “Kultura at Kapaligiran, Yaman ng mga Ivatan – Ating Pangalagaan” is very very appropriate and timely for our celebration today.  It brings us back to the very heart and soul of our way of life and living in Batanes.


            Building on such deep appreciation of our rich historic-cultural and social value systems the province has always endeavored to work hard on improving and enhancing the quality of life for everyone in Batanes.


            True enough, if we try to compare life and living in Batanes with the other 80 provinces of the Philippines, interestingly, qualitative socio-economic indicators show that we are relatively high in terms of national ranking.  Under the UN Human Development Index, we belong to the top 5 provinces.  In terms of total financial resources per capita, IRA per capita, and social services expenditure per capita we are within the top 3 provinces.   If we look at the number of health workers and number of doctors per 100,000 population based on national standards, we are number 1 or 2.  In education teacher-pupil ratio and classroom-pupil ratio both for elementary and secondary public schools, we are number one or two.  This includes simple literacy ratings of Batanes.  Even in terms of poverty incidence, we have the lowest incidence of poverty.  This is proven by the fact that on record, no family or household is listed under the National Program on Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) of the National Government thru DSWD.


            All these have been achieved through our continuing collaboration with the Office of the Honorable Henedina Razon abad, our hardworking representative for the lone congressional district of Batanes, as well as other agencies of government operating in the province.  Let us not forget the hard work and cooperation extended to government by the private sector and individual families.  “Dios mamahes”.


            Despite all these remarkable statistics, let us face the fact that life and living in Batanes is still far from ideal.  Casual conversations and dialogues with individual families and communities as I move around the province reveals that the level of satisfaction is indeed wanting.  demand for better basic public service delivery systems, I believe is a continuing task and challenge to all political leaders.  I do not pretend to have all the answers.  However, together we can help alleviate our predicament as a people and as a community.  The truth is, this is a work in progress!  A challenge and an opportunity for us to make good of whatever meager resources we have today for the common good!


            Therefore, in our own little way, the province has laid the ground work to improve public service delivery systems and to increase the level of transparency, accountability and responsibility in government for achieving good local governance and the rule of law.  These were accomplished through:


First, professionalism in the bureaucracy.  we have effectively and strictly implemented Republic Act 9485 or the Anti-Red Tape Act (ARTA) where we have formulated our Citizen’s Charter as mandated by law, and the ARTA flow chart posted in all our frontline servicing offices.  The code of conduct and ethical standards or RA 6713 for public officials and employees were likewise strictly implemented.  All these were intended to increase the competency and credibility of our government personnel.


Second, gearing up for high performance, greater productivity and quality in government service, we have formulated and now implemented our new Strategic Performance Management System (SPMS) manual based on the new CSC guidelines for better monitoring and evaluation of individual, office and institutional performance.


Third, full public disclosure of the province’s financial status and condition has been strictly complied with postings in our FDP bulletin boards at public places.  This allows increased public awareness and access to information on the use of public funds by the province and,


Fourth, strategic action plans have been implemented as a requirement of good local governance by strengthening the fiscal position of the province through effective and efficient revenue collection efforts.  In fact, the province has  consistently been an awardee.  For the past two years, our collection efficiency rating ranges from 110% in 2013 and 115.32% in 2014.  A collective effort of the provincial and municipal revenue collection offices.


On infrastructure development support programs, aside from the carry-over infrastructure projects which were completed, I am pleased to underline that major projects have been launched to support agriculture and fisheries and health sectors, such as the construction of “AA” slaughter house and mini-processing plant; the BFAR-MCS building; and the improvement of the Itbayat District Hospital.  Road improvements, which I fittingly call roads to progress, in all the six municipalities, we improved.  Further, to strengthen the tourism industry, historical sites and monuments were restored.


On manpower development, skills enhancement was further strengthened during the past year.  The Batanes Technical Skills Development Center in partnership with the Provincial Health Office, conducted a training on first aid and basic life support.  On educational assistance, provincial government granted full college scholarships to 25 students in SDC and BSC, adding to the 25 who were accepted in 2013.


On health care and nutrition, I am PROUD to report that the socialized health insurance system (Kapanidungan sa Kalusugan) has expanded its membership.  This means that more Ivatans are able to enjoy free benefits such as medicines and diagnostics.  Programs on nutrition, environmental sanitation and basic life support trainings were carried out with full efficiency.


On social welfare services, the Provincial and Social Welfare and Development Office Has focused on several programs: aid to individuals in crisis situation, cash for work, food assistance, educational assistance, social pension availment and livelihood.  It will be of interest to parents that all the 25 day care centers in the province were visited by the PSWDO team and all of them are now ready to provide needed services for everyone. 


Our goal for food security and sufficiency becomes more important every year.  We have grown in numbers: larger population, more tourists, more restaurants.  At the same time, we want to boost our self-reliance in food production.  The challenge however, with the emerging climate change realities is how to adapt a climate change resilient agriculture.  While research and other related studies are undertaken by all concerned agencies, the province has sustained and expanded our vegetable production activities. 


Comparative statistical data for Batanes on production, consumption and sufficiency level of selected agricultural crops shows that the province remains less than 50% self-sufficient on selected vegetables.  This explains our big investment on food security and sufficiency.


This is where the Provincial Agriculture and Veterinary Offices have centered their efforts on.  During the past year, 22 vegetable productions sites were continuously maintained and the “Gulayan sa Barangay” program was sustained.


Moreover, programs on freshwater fisheries and post harvest handling and processing were implemented.  Further, towards an accelerated livestock and poultry production, it is worthwhile to note that extension services, technology transfer, animal health management and livestock dispersal have been properly carried out.


We are aware that Batanes has become a favorite destination of movie stars, writers and travelling families.  When I walk in the mornings, I would meet two or three strangers.  There was even a time when I felt that I was the only Ivatan on a flight coming back to Basco.  It has since dawned on me that our beautiful province has found a spot in the map as a tourist destination.  Do you know that in 2014, we were visited by 17,013 tourists?  That beats the total population of Batanes of 16,604 as of the latest philippine statistics authority census.


This is the reason why there are more programs that the provincial government has launched to ensure that our tourism industry becomes even more progressive, but does not sacrifice the environment.  Trainings on ecotourism, information education campaigns, tour guiding, enhancement of cultural sites, participation in travel expositions, among others, have done us well.


While the threats to the fragile environment and tranquil beauty of Batanes could not be left unnoticed, we continue to coordinate and collaborate with all agencies concerned to ensure that protection and conservation activities are sustained.  In 2014, the ecological solid waste management program was rolled out in three municipalities, a tree park was established in Itbayat, forest rangers were deployed, and quarrying activities were continuously monitored.


Ladies and gentlemen, truly, the province under my leadership has shown in FY 2014 our determined stance and commitment to: 1) social justice and equity – translating the benefits of development on a day to day basis as espoused under the principle of inclusive growth; 2) unabated pursuit for sustained economic growth in terms of food security and sufficiency and mass based tourism promotion program that sustains, promotes and conserve our world class indigenous cultural heritage and traditions as well as preserve our God-given natural beauty moulded out of harsh environment and isolation; and 3) our sustained environmental concern to preserve the pristine beauty of Batanes by maintaining and ensuring ecological balance and biodiversity province wide.


All these major development programs are judiciously undertaken together with all stakeholders of the province without compromising the interest and welfare of the people of Batanes, the object of our development agenda and for which all resources are utilized and spent to improve the quality of life for everyone in Batanes.


I pray therefore and enjoin everyone to join me in our unending journey to attain our vision of building “A healthy and resilient community of peaceful and God loving people whose cultural integrity is maintained and commonly pursuing sustainable development in a progressive, self-reliant and democratic society.”


finally, My family joins me, again, in wishing you all the best, as we celebrate the 232nd Batanes FOUNDING ANNIVERSARY.


“Dios mamajes”…. Thank you and God Bless us all!


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2024-05-28 23:44