|Guests and spectators at the swanky and cozy Sison Auditorium in Lingayen, Pangasinan|
Masantos a kabuasan. Magandang umaga po sa inyong lahat.
Exactly three years ago, in this very same venue, we all gathered to formally begin my second term as Governor of this great province. This time, we are here again to officially start my third and last term. This moment rightfully belongs to all of you, the gallant people of the Province of Pangasinan. Thank you all for making this special moment possible, and for being here to share it with us. I stand before you this morning, inspired by your moral courage to stand firm for what you believe is right and just, and extremely grateful for your consistent and unwavering support.
This moment did not come easy. In order to get here, we had to endure, and survive, all kinds of psychological pressures, mental agony, and many other forms of political harassment, orchestrated by people who had easy and convenient access to the awesome powers of the state. But when the smoke had cleared, I was immensely relieved to discover that, during this most difficult and trying period, I was never alone because you never left me. You stayed on, and stood firm, right beside me. I cannot thank you enough for taking that bold and defiant stand against seemingly formidable forces, in defense of the welfare and the best interests of our province and people.
The commanding lead of more than half a million votes, (five hundred fifty four thousand three hundred fifty one votes, to be exact), where I won in all but one town throughout the entire province, was more than what you gave me in May 2010, and remains unequalled in the whole country.
You, the people of Pangasinan have once again spoken with one great voice to affirm your support for all that we have done together in the last six years, as we laid down the basic foundations for the long term development, and worked to secure the future, of our province. You would not allow anyone to deny the fact that, together, and armed with a clear vision, and the firm determination to become number one, we have been doing the right things, and we have done more, and better, than in the past. And the facts don’t lie. Based on the latest Family Income and Expenditure Survey, the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) reported that while the entire country posted a minimal 1.1 percent decrease in poverty incidence within the last six years, from 23.4% in 2006 to 22.3% in 2012, the province of Pangasinan outpaced the entire country and registered an impressive decline in poverty incidence of 9.5% for the same period, from 26.5% in 2006, to 17% in 2012.
These figures, coming directly from the governing body on national statistics, took shape during our first six years at the helm of our province.
They stand as incontrovertible proof of our solid accomplishments, and as concrete testament to the relevance and effectiveness of our poverty reduction programs, projects, and activities. And so together, we emerged victorious once more. Ironically, this time, I did not savour the sweet taste of victory, any more than I experienced an overwhelming sense of relief that finally, it’s all over. Now, we can all go back to work. Armed with this fresh, new mandate which you have entrusted upon this humble public servant, and inspired by the positive results of our collective efforts during the last six years, we move on with renewed vigor and determination to fulfill our Vision of Pangasinan:
The BEST PLACE TO INVEST, WORK, LIVE, AND RAISE A FAMILY, and to pursue the Mission: TO MAKE PANGASINAN NUMBER ONE.
As I stated in my last Report on the State of the Province, during that span of 6 years since we took over the helm of the province last June 30, 2007, Pangasinan has slowly, but steadily, moved forward from being a non-entity to become “...a consistent top performer in local governance, a leading tourist destination, and a favourite venue for big conventions, conferences, sports events, and other related national and international events and activities.” With 6 Regional Hall of Fame Awards in major areas of local governance to our credit, Pangasinan reigns as Region I Champion in the Gawad Pamana ng Lahi, the coveted mother of all local governance awards.
As such, Pangasinan is now the undisputed best performing province in Region I, and the fourth best performing province in the whole country.
But we will not stop there. If we continue to put our acts together, and work even harder, I am quite confident that sooner, not later, Pangasinan will eventually become the best performing, and the number one, province throughout the land. All of us are aware that Pangasinan still has so many untapped potentials and resources that can be put to sustainable and productive use.
We have large tracts of idle lands, vast mountains and forest areas, natural resorts, wide bodies of inland and coastal waters, all with a combined variety of appropriate and potential uses, from crop production, cattle and livestock raising, fishing, tourism, industrial estates, and economic zones. We have abundant deposits of mineral resources, highly educated and skilled labor force, and two power plants with a combined generating capacity of 1545 megawatts available for industrial and other business locators within the province. Negotiations are now in the works for the establishment of the Port of Sual as a containerized sub-port.
This would mean more goods coming in and out through Pangasinan. And with more businesses and investment ventures that will be attracted to locate in Pangasinan, we can expect more economic activities and livelihood and employment opportunities to take shape in our province. The prospects are innumerable, and it is really up to us to make things happen.
But as I have always said, all of us must accept that governance is a shared responsibility, where each one has a role to play, and each of us has a specific job to do.
The provincial government cannot do the job alone. It is important that the strategic steps being taken by the provincial government are complemented by relevant projects and activities at the community level.
Thus, I now challenge and call upon the cities and municipalities, including the barangays, to take it upon themselves to address those nagging and persistent community-based problems such as lack of potable water, sanitary toilets, and decent shelter, widespread malnutrition, environmental sanitation such as lack of, or ill-maintained, drainage canals and improper solid waste disposal, traffic management, and the establishment and maintenance of order, decency, and cleanliness in all local government centres and offices, and other public places such as streets, parks, plazas, and public markets and schools and also in our own neighbourhood.
If we fail consistently to address, and give priority attention to, these most basic, common place problems, then all gallant efforts to promote progress and prosperity in our province would only become empty and meaningless. But first, the cities and the municipalities must accept the primary responsibility for these problems. The province can only play a supporting role. And please don’t expect us to do the job for you. You must understand and learn to accept that the provincial government has its own set of primary functions and responsibilities. It must sustain the proper and adequate maintenance of provincial facilities to enable the province to provide sound policy direction, strategic support programs, and extension services such as secondary level hospital care, agricultural research and technical assistance, networking with national and international agencies, investment and tourism promotions, and construction and maintenance of inter-municipal and provincial level support infrastructures and facilities needed to generate more economic activities and social services. If we must continue moving forward, each of us must do his part, and contribute a share in the overall effort to develop our province, and to promote the welfare and well-being of our people.
As we begin this new chapter in the life of our province, I will always be sustained and continually inspired by the overwhelming trust and confidence that you have reposed in me. I wish to thank the outgoing members of the provincial board, as well as the old, comebacking members, headed by Vice-Governor Jose Ferdinand Z. Calimlim, Jr., for their consistent and constructive support during the last six years. We wish you well and all the best in your next endeavors.
As for the incoming set in the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, I hope we can maintain our dynamic collaboration, and continue to pursue our common agenda for the sustained growth and prosperity of our province. I also wish to thank our fellow public servants in the provincial government, our very supportive congressmen, namely: Congresswoman Kimi Cojuangco; Congressman Pol Bataoil; and Congressman Boying Celeste; Former Congressman Mark Cojuangco; Abono Partylist Chairman Rosendo So; all our local government partners in the different towns and cities, our regional and provincial national line agencies, our partners in the private sector, civil society and non-government groups, our friends from the media and most especially, the silent majority of our nameless province mates, for all your significant contributions, constant support, cooperation, and personal sacrifices, without which we could not have accomplished so much. I will continue to depend on your indispensable support and cooperation, in the same manner that I wish to assure you of my undiminished enthusiasm and solemn commitment to continue giving you nothing but my best in serving you, in promoting the welfare and the best interests of our province and people. May God continue to bless our efforts.
Mabuhay ang Pangasinan. God bless one and all.