STATE OF THE CITY
“DAGUPAN is not turning back, not now, not ever.”
This was the battle cry for the city articulated by City Mayor Belen T. Fernandez when she delivered her State of the City Address (SOCA) before the Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP), city hall employees and residents at the city plaza last April 3.
Fernandez, now on her fourth year as city mayor, said: “The present state of our city is strong because we are all committed to clean and good governance, accountability and transparency”.
She said since she took over the reins of the city government four years ago, Dagupan City has since performed on a balanced annual budget notwithstanding the annual increases citing the 2017 budget at P868 million, the highest among all nine cities in Region 1.
She said she aims to see the city operate on a P1-billion budget to fully support the growth of the city minus excesses seen in the past, i.e., unproductive payments of overtime, illegal disbursements of public funds for various items.
Instead, she said the city government will continue to increase its budget for livelihood and medical services of the poor and senior citizens, improving education facilities, creating opportunities for development of the city’s youth, upgrading road infrastructure, protecting the environment, sustaining economic gains and peace and order in the city.
“We are proud to say that we have built an economy here in Dagupan which is considered to be the strongest since the city attained its cityhood 70 years ago,” Fernandez said.
She cited the support of the city council for facilitating the approval of the city’s long overdue Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP) and zoning ordinance replacing the outdated CLUP passed in 1978. “The new CLUP will be the road map for the city in the next 10 years,” she pointed out.
Fernandez also cited her administration’s partnership with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) provided core shelter initially to families relocated from the city’s dumpsite. Some 400 core shelters will be constructed for informal settlers in the city.
She said the city’s “Alagang Balon Dagupan” has made senior citizens of Dagupan the source of envy of other senior citizens in the region because they can now avail of more medical and wellness benefits from the city government. Among these include free regular check-up, medicines, recreational activities, etc.
Last year, at least 100 senior citizens received free treatment for their cataract at the University of Sto. Tomas in Manila.
Under her watch, BELEN 16911 made Dagupan City more effective in responding to emergency situations to some 878 cases saving lives in the process, and the
Women Center was established to serve and support victims of domestic abuse.
To address illegal drug trade that once flourished in the city, Sagip User Rehabilitation and Enhancement (SURE) and a wellness desk at city hall have been established to help drug users and their relatives.
To protect the environment, Dagupan, now one of the global leaders in ocean protection, is being assisted by the Pasig Rehabilitation Commission and the University of the Philippines Institute of Marine Science. Towards this effort, 90 hectares of rivers had already been cleared of 712 illegal structures.
On environmental sanitation, she said, the city can now look forward to the establishment of the first waste-to-energy facility that can convert garbage into diesel fuel and bio-gas with the help of the United States State Department and the United Nations.
She also cited the recognition earned by the city having been appointed as the focal leader on K to 12 all over the country by the League of Cities of the Philippines and is one of the few cities in the country that is more prepared than others for the Big One.
She cited the four-storey evacuation center being constructed in the island village of Salapingao.
Several roads in the city were also elevated to address the flooding in the city’s streets particularly during the rainy season while public markets have been rehabilitated for the convenience of buyer and sellers. (Leonardo Micua)