“Walang imposible kung lahat tayo ay nagtutulungan at nagkakaisa.Ipinakita itong Lalawigan ng Quezon noong isagawa natin ang Quezon’s 2-in-1.”
The week-long celebration of the “Niyogyugan Festival” –the week-long Provincial Fiesta leading up to the 134th birthday of Manuel Luis Quezon – commenced with the much-awaited State of the Province Address by Quezon Governor David “Jayjay” C. Suarez. The event was graced by a multitude of guests coming from all over the province: LGUs, NGOs, politicians, various religious sectors, government employees, employees from private firms, senior citizens, farmers, fisher folk, teachers, students, parents, and media filled the Quezon Convention Center to the brim at Lucena City, this August 13th. The session started at 9:50 in the morning, signaled by Quezon Vice Governor Vicente “Kulit” J. Alcala’s hammer striking the gavel.
Gov. Suarez opened his speech by recalling Quezon’s 2-in-1, the monumental planting of 2,680,620 (according to the data recorded by PG-ENRO) mangrove propagules in 167 coastal barangays within the province’s 34 municipalities last June 30th. He expressed his joy at the participation and support of around 35,000 Quezonians, young and old, towards the historicenvironmental endeavor. “This is proof that there is indeed an unquestionable desire for us Quezonians to serve and to do what is right for Quezon Province,” the good governor said.
The question now is, after the two years since Gov. Suarez took his oath, what has Quezon become? What has the province – with the help of the Provincial Government – done to serve its people and further develop its potential?
A First Class Province
Because of the local government’s good governance, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) conferred the prestigious Seal of Good House Keeping in recognition for Quezon’s excellent performance in internal housekeeping in Good Planning, Sound Fiscal Management, Transparency and Accountability; and Valuing of Performance and Monitoring. DILG also awarded the Seal of Good Housekeeping to Quezon’s 39 towns and 2 cities. Making the Province of Quezon is the only one in CALABARZON to garner the Seal of Good House Keeping for its Provincial Government and all its municipalities.
Quezon’s LGPMS, or Local Government Management Performance System – an electronic data capturing tool that measures the performance of the Local Government Units in different key areas of development and initiatives – has also increased substantially. From 4.41 last 2010, itrose to 4.79 last year 2011 – the highest LGPMS result in the history of Quezon Province.
The province also received recognition in its exemplary performance in various fields:
Quezon’s Provincial Social Welfare and Development Officer, Mrs. Sonia S. Leyson, was acknowledged as the Most Outstanding PSWDO in the Philippines; Former PNP Provincial Director Erickson Velasquez received recognition as Most Oustanding Provincial Director last year; andthe Department of Finance Regional Office recognized Quezon through Provincial Treasurer Marilou Rosario-Uy for her successful induction of the Real Property Tax Campaign.
Quezon Province also brought home the most awards in the Regional GAWAD SAKA 2011-2012, snagging 7 out of 18 accolades in the field of agriculture in the CALABARZON area. The successful result of the GULAYAN SA PAARALAN last July, which consequently led to the launching of the Season 3 of the project,shows that the future generation is well informed of the benefits and importance of growing and consuming organic vegetables.
In the area of healthcare, the City of Tayabas was awarded by the Department of Health the honor of being the Best Performing Rural Health Unit in the province two times in a row. REINAPAN’s Inter-local Health Zone also won in the GALING POOK AWARD 2011 for their excellent implementation of health programs. And though it garnered no awards, it is significant to mention how Quezon sent a rescue team to aid those ravaged by the recent flooding in the province of Rizal. From once being the one receiving aid from rescuers, the province has moved up to helping its neighbors – thus proving that Serbisyong Suarez is not just for the Quezonians.
Securing a Bright Future
The notable achievements of the province that the Father of Quezon enumerated in his speech are barely the highlights of the affair. Instead of sitting on its laurels, the province decided to look at the bigger picture and invest in the future of the Quezonians – the province’s true wealth.
The Provincial Government entered a Drug Consignment Agreement to ensure the availability and affordability of medicines within the province. Over 74, 553Quezonians are benefitting from the LingapKalusugansa Barangay, where Serbisyong Suarez Health Coupons are distributed to aid those needing financial help for medical bills. Likewise, new state-of-the-artmachines are available in the Quezon Medical Center, as well as facilities like the newWomen’s Health Center with Cryotheraphy and Mammography machines, and the best blood bank in the region. A SEA AMBULANCE was also provided for the Pollilo Group of Islands, a new Claro M. Recto Memorial Hospital – amounting to 24 million – for the town of Infanta, while 28 million is invested for the Gumaca District’s Regional Hospital’s new wing.
To improve the global competency of the Quezonian youth, the Quezon Science High School was erected, and is now in its 2nd year of operation. A computer literacy program and English proficiency programis also sweeping through the province, with computer and speech laboratories being set up for schools within Quezon. New classrooms and facilities are also being opened to accommodate more students, and to give children a good head start, Day Care centers are being built –with 23 more set for this year. Teachers are also encouraged to be entered into retraining programs, to make them better suited to form the leaders of tomorrow.
To further aid in securing a bright future for the people of Quezon, the Serbisyong Suarez Scholarship program now increased its former 2 scholars per barangay to 4 for the school year 2012-2013. Currently a total of 5,334 students in Quezon are Serbisyong Suarez Scholars.
The sector of Agriculture is also enjoying an exponential growth, coinciding with the Provincial Government’s thrust to enable farmers and fisher folk to sustain their livelihood and improve their lives. From 2009 up to the 1st semester of 2012, the total production of rice has increased by 27.35% – which is about 46,232 metric tons – making the 44.78% Rice Sufficiency Level of Quezon increase to 52.93%. On the other hand, the production of corn has increased by 26.47%, or 6,335 metric tons. And these results are thanks to the Corn and Rice Subsidy Program, whichreached 15,866 Quezonian farmers. Farm equipment was also distributed, like hand tractors, and post-harvest facilities like corn and rice driers, were also set up.
According to MASIPAG Organization and the UPLB Agricultural Systems Cluster, Quezon is the first in the country that has created a Participatory Guarantee System, which certifiesorganically produced produce. Quezon is also the first to establish a provincial technical committee on organic agriculture, and has set up the Quezon Organic Producers Association – which aims to promote organic farming in the province.Aquaculture for fishermen is also focused on, with Quezon being predominantly coastal in geography. The scope of livestock dispersal, too, is being widened, and is encouraged as an alternate source of income.
Coconut farming, where the province once was first in production, is steadily being returned to its former glory. Within two years, 200,000 coconut seedlings and 22,000 bags of salt fertilizer were given away for planting and replanting programs, and the Coconut-Based Integrated Farming system is constantly being campaigned for.In the words of Gov. Suarez, “In economic terms, coconut industry is our comparative advantage over all the other provinces. No one is better than Quezon Province in producing coconut. We were number 1 once, and we will be number 1 again.”
Aside from the Serbisyong Suarez flagship programs that are directed towards the issues of Health, Education, Agriculture, as well as the Environment, there are other much-awaited large-scale developmental projects that are underway for the Province of Quezon.
After thanking President Benigno Simeon Aquino, Jr., for the 1.5 billion peso budget he has given Quezon for its development that has been allocated for the rehabilitation of irrigation systems, fish ports, roads, buildings, and potable water systems, Gov. Suarez declared that Quezon has become an even better province. And with this improvement, local and foreign investors are now eyeing Quezon with interest.
He welcomed Hiroki Naruse, Development Manager,and Koitchi Atsuta, of Chubu Electric Company; Martin Lopez, Roque Portugalland John Quirke, Senior Vice-President of MERALCO Power Generation. They two companies have done their physical scoping and areplaning to put-up a 1,750-MW Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Power Plant in the municipality of Atimonan. This will be the biggest power plant in the Philippines not only in terms of capacity but also in terms of investment – a figure amounting to at least 60 Billion Pesos, and a worthy one, knowing that Luzon will be met with a power crisis by 2016 if initiatives for expansion aren’t taken.
But he made three points very clear: Number 1, employment should make Quezonians priority; Number 2, operations of the firm should meet the strictest environmental standards; and Number 3, the firm should pay its taxes honestly.“Combining all these power generation projects, we can boast that in the next few years, Quezon Province will be the most powerful province in the country,” Gov. Suarez said.
The Big Three
Gov. Suarez unveiled that he has signed an agreement with the Province of Aurora regarding the construction of a bridge, through the help of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), which would connect the two provinces.The Governor, who recently attended the Regional Development Council meeting, also reported the good news that the project he and his father, Congressman Danilo “Danny” Suarez, have been fighting for has been approved: The extension of the South Luzon Expressway from Sto. Tomas, Batangas, to the Town of Pagbilao and the City of Lucena.
The Island of Balesin, from the Pollilo Group of Islands, is being developed into a 5-star resort through the 3 Billion Peso investment of Alpha Land. Gov. Suarez admitted that if there is a project he was really excited about, it was this. Tourists from all over the world would see the unparalleled beauty of Quezon, an honor in itself, and an opportunity to provide more jobs for the betterment of theQuezonians.(Quezon PIO)