Agriculture, tourism, education high on Siquijor gov's agenda
by Eda Lou Tangaoa & Reynan Ansing, TSM
Province of Siquijor (13 August) -- Governor Orlando A. Fua Jr. delivered his State of the Province Address recently at the Capitol Garden, Pulangyuta, Siquijor, Siquijor.
Attended by the community sectors, the SOPA was a summary of programs and projects he implemented since he assumed into office in July 2007 as well as his plans and agenda for the upcoming months. It was his first SOPA as a governor of the province after having served in the legislative divisions of government, first as board member in 1995 and as congressman from 1998 to 2007.
Governor fua said that foremost of his priorities is the agriculture sector as he is bent on increasing food production for the 87,000 Siquijodnons today.
He added that the the Bio N plant in Tagmanacon, Lazi was purposefully built to dramatically lower the cost of farming inout that our farmers have to contend with. It is only one of 3 plants in the region and one of 60 in the country today, he said.
Fua also vowed to ocntinue and maintain tourism promotions as it has alreade a stable foundation considering the dramatic increase of tourists arrivals to the province in the past year.
"In 2006, we had 20,421 walk in tourists coming to Siquijor. In 2007, we had 74, 192 or a 363 per cent increase. For the 6 months between January to June of the cur-rent year, we had 37,918 tourists coming over. Very easily our projections for this year will surpass the number of arrivals in 2007. These figures exclude the arrivals by boat that dock in the municipality of Larena, or the diving safaris that are packaged by tour operators in the region who make are trooping to the various diving spots of our seas", Fua cited.
Gov. Fua revealed in his speech that Siquijor is a recipient of a P65 million package this year from the PPA to rehabilitate the Siquijor port. The Cokaliong shipping company has signified its intent to dock at the port if it could be dredged to a depth of 5 meters. "With the strong representation of Cong. Fua, the PPA has granted the request, and a program of work is already on the drawing boards to dredge the port to the re-quested depth", he said.
Also expected to boost the island's tourism industry is a P5M mountain resort in Mt. Bandilaan, Siquijor's still unspoiled forest cover, that is poised to start in August this year so visitors and mountain trekkers can while their time away by the time it will be completed. "We have just secured the approval of our ECC from the DENR and signed a memorandum of agreement with them for us to steward the development of the area. It will be a low impact resort, designed to do the least damage to the environment and ecol-ogy. In the resort, we hope to house the community of healers of our island so that the weary and the afflicted can be healed right in its very bosom", Gov. Fua further revealed.
Another highlight of his accomplishment was the tearing down of the old Capitol structure in Siquijor and construction of an unltra modern building in its place., three sto-reys of spanking glass and conrete for 7 Million PHP for the 1st phase that is already im-plemented, another 7 Million for the 2nd phase that shall be commenced in the third week of August, and thru the intercession of Congressman fua, a sum of 10 Million PHP from the GAA to complete it in the last quarter of the year. In this building is the offer to house the Land Bank and the judicial and prosecutorial services in Siquijor so as to ease the congestion of Larena and to abide by the law that ordains that the seat of the Regional Trial Court shall be located in the provincial capital, which is Siquijor town.
A believer in education, Fua likewise is focused on education as he allocated P3M, a sizeable chunk from his budget for the repair/rehabilitation/ construction of more schoolrooms in the province. He recalled when he was congressman, "earmarking year in and year out half of our PDAF to pay for the tuition fees of our congressional scholars."
"We are deeply glad that this program has been carried over by Cong. Fua, and today 600 scholars from all over the province enjoy the same assistance to pay for their education. We have been conferred TESDA scholarship grants to shoulder the tuition fees of caregivers and welders, and we are set the graduate the first batch of caregivers this schoolyear. 20 graduate welders were hired on the spot by the burgeoning shipyard industry in Cebu last June," he said.
Fua also vowed to improve the health sector by "instilling morale among our health workers, extending to them what we could by way of salary increases to abide their magna carta act."
In his speech, he aluded the provincial ttreasurer (Ric Tan) for earning the award from the Department of Finance for having collected the highest volume of husiness taxes in 2007, besting the rest of his peers in the three provinces of the region.
"We need to ear nore, so we are pitching greater effort to collect more taxes," he said.
In sum Fua was committed to continually improve and spur innovations in his programs, strategies and experiences which proved to be relevant to the people's needs and are deemed successful and effective public service, fiscal improvements, economic growth, poverty reduction and social upliftment and he expect that these strategies would be met.
Fua appealed the Siquijor people to bridge the boundaries and tear the walls of parochialism and be united in fighting poverty, ignorance, disease as there is no other way that these vaunted foes could be fought and vanquished but thru "a united front along our land."
I ask that each of us become accounatble to our legacy. We are 6 municipalities, 134 barangays and 87,000 all in all in the last census, but we are only one province. There is nother identity that anyone of us is known else, except that we are all Siquijodnons, descended from a common heritage, culture and tradition," Fua said. (PIA) [top]