DAGUPAN CITY – Stand by me and together let us claim our future boldly and wisely!
This was the call of Mayor Belen T. Fernandez to the 185,000 Dagupenos through the more than 6,000 people who listened to her first State of the City Address (SOCA) at the CSI Stadia on May 22.
She asked the Dagupan people to rally behind her in making Dagupan a Smart City by 2016 and a Premier City of the North by 2019.
Fernandez opened her SOCA by congratulating certain sectors of the city for making 2013 a successful year that is worth remembering where she particularly mentioned the Dagupan People’s Council under hermano mayor lawyer Liberato “Ope” C. Reyna Jr. for a well-attended city fiesta that will long linger in the memory of Pawil Dagupeños; for bringing back the spirit of civic service and pride of place; for reminding old-timers of the city of their birth; and for inspiring the new generation of Dagupeños to proudly claim this city of their dreams.
Fernandez thanked the Lord Almighty for having spared the city from the wrath of Typhoon Yolanda and promised to continue to include those who have been affected in her daily prayers for their fast recovery.
“I wish to inform you, my compassionate fellow Dagupeños that our city contributed the amount of P500,000 for the victims. The little that we could spare while we ourselves were in the midst of a local financial crisis during my first 100 days in office,” she disclosed.
FINANCIAL STATUS OF THE CITY
Fernandez reported that when she assumed office, the city’s financial status was not as stable as it is today after she implemented vigorous revenue-generating campaign without increasing taxes, combined with her robust expenditure cutting.
“Records show that the budgetary appropriation at the beginning of January, 2013 already indicated a deficit of P37.1 million which continued until June. When I took office in July, this budgetary deficit was reduced to P11.130 million,” she said.
By the close of 2013, the city’s consolidated cash position including the Trust Fund and the School and Educational Fund stands at P282.2 million, which is more than the previous year of 2012 by P106.9 million or 163 percent more.
However, still weighed-down by previous years, with 2012 expenses charged against the 2013 budget, Fernandez managed to end with P3.882 million by December of 2013, which is smaller than the October surplus, but better than a deficit.
“It should be noted that those budgetary deficits running for nine months ate up a portion of the P119 million proceeds from the sale of the MC Adore property. But because of the financial reforms I instituted in my administration starting in July, we were able to return the portion eaten up,” she explained.
Fernandez cited revenue increases of 10 percent and over in business tax, tax on delivery trucks and vans, fines and penalties, fishery rental fees, registration fees and income from markets which recorded an overall consolidated total operating income of P597.6 million as of yearend compared to that of the previous year at P559.3 million only.
“If you recall, during my first 100 days, collections from market operations registered a whopping 300 percent increase. This is because of the reforms I personally instituted covering all market collections,” Fernandez said.
For the first quarter of 2014 compared to the same period in 2013 under the previous administration, the city registered a budget surplus as follows: from a budget deficit of P37.1 million in January 2013, the present administration registered a budget surplus of P49.6 million or an increase of P86.6 million or 233 percent for the same month.
From a budget deficit of P3 million in February 2013, the city registered a budget surplus of P81.3 million or an increase of P84.4 million or 277 percent for the same month this year; and from a budget deficit of P22.2 percent in March 2013, the city again registered a budget surplus of P80.8 million or an increase of P103 million or 465 percent for the same month this 2014.
“For the entire first quarter of 2014, this administration registered an average increase in budget surplus amounting to P274 million or 442 percent over the same quarter in 2013,” Fernandez said.
Fernandez added that the hasty sale of MC Adore Hotel was designed to cover the budgetary deficit of the city under the previous administration.
“Clearly obvious now was the fact that the 2012 obligations – electricity and water bills foremost and dubious payroll expenses, which remain unpaid – would have consumed the entire P119 million proceeds from the sale of MC Adore had they charged to the 2013 budget. Then Dagupan would not only have a budgetary deficit but default on its obligations,” Fernandez explained.
REDUCTION OF EXPENSES
Side by side by her drive to increase revenues, Fernandez also undertook ‘radical surgery’ to reduce the expenses of the city.
Overtime night pay decreased by P2.17 million or 53 percent over the same period; consultancy decreased by P3.9 million or 52 percent due to an already exhausted budget balance at the end of May 2013; other professional services decreased by P14.7 million or 35 percent; local traveling expenses decreased by P293,000 or 16 percent, foreign traveling expenses decreased by P1.87 million or 75 percent.
Training expenses decreased by P799,100 or 26 percent; office supplies by P1.7 million or 33 percent; animal and zoological supplies expenses by P73,000 or 100 percent; medical, dental and laboratory expenses by P735,000 or 58 percent.
Gasoline decreased by P535,900 or nine percent. The decreased would have been P3.8 million or 52 percent if not with the adjustment made by the city to include the more than P1 million expenses incurred by the previous administration.
Water expenses from July to December, 2013 actually decreased and not increased by P497,146.71 or 24.7 percent against the same period if not with adjustment made to include the P1,358,077 million incurred by the previous administration which was charged against the July to December 2013 period.
Electricity posted an increase of 107 percent or P14,699,296.45 to include payments covering May to June amounting to P9,395,026.18.
Adjusting for this carry over, the net increase incurred for the comparative period is actually 38.5 percent, while the previous administration incurred an increase of 62.5 percent and not 27 percent.
Donations decreased materially by P19.4 million or 93 percent compared to the same period in 2012 when Fernandez discontinued the granting of financial assistance to various NGOs. The bulk of donation expenses were given directly to indigents and CSWD-related activities for poverty alleviation and community care.
Thus, it was possible by last year’s end to reward the Team Balon Dagupan with a bunos over and above the 13th month pay.
The Better Education for Livelihood and Employment Needs program or Project B.E.L.E.N. together with Technical Education and Schools Development Authority (TESDA) trained 20 students for 2D animation and another 40 under the cash for training program.
The project also conducted a massive livelihood campaign in every barangay covering 148 participants including Basic Business Management Training for 60 women.
From the funding support of Congresswoman Manay Gina De Venecia, a number of recipients were trained in carpentry, while 113 families were provided shelter with funding support from the National Housing Authority.
The city’s Pantawid Pamilya Pilipino Program beneficiaries bloomed to 3,434 from 2,229 in 2012, while 96 senior citizens underwent cataract operations for free courtesy of Fernandez.
The city established the City Action Services Team (CAST) to respond quickly to social problems like granting financial assistance through the Region I Medical Center, establishment of an OFW desk where five OFWs have been rescued the latest of which is a 37 year old woman after her employer tried to sexually abuse her.
Twenty-four medical missions were conducted in 17 barangays which resulted to 13,603 beneficiaries of medical and dental services compared to 1,258 for the entire year of 2012 registering an increase of 981 percent.
Bi-monthly free blood tests, free consultation, medicines and various vaccinations under the Panangaro kinen Bai tan Laki resulted to more than a thousand senior citizen beneficiaries.
The City Health Office has catered to 8,213 members and dependents of the National Housing Targeting System-Poverty Reduction and 4Ps beneficiaries and LGU enrolled Philhealth members at the City Health Office.
During the last quarter of 2013, the city already enrolled 122 pregnant mothers under the Philhealth Sponsored Program to attain ZERO maternal deaths in the city.
“This initiative, in coordination with Philhealth, increased Facility-Based Deliveries or births in hospitals and birthing clinics or pregnant mothers from 67 percent in 2012 to 80 percent by the end of 2013. I dare to say with confidence that in Balon Dagupan: No sibling should lose a brother or a sister, and a mother and her child,” said Fernandez.
The Philippine National Police Dagupan apprehended 146 persons for illegal drugs, 28 for illegal firearms and 104 wanted persons.
The city also established the B.E.L.E.N. 911 for emergencies and urgent concerns.
For this, Fernandez received various recognitions such as Most Outstanding Mayor from the Dangerous Drugs Board; the Seal of Good Housekeeping from the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG); a National Award of Recognition from the Department of Education (DepEd); and an Outstanding Pangasinan Achiever Award from the Pangasinan Association of Columnists and Editors.
For 2014, social services will continue to be the primary concern of Fernandez with a budget of P183 million or three percent more than 2013.
ALAGANG BALON DAGUPAN
The city under the Alagang Balon Dagupan has already accomplished the following from January to mid-May of this year: a surgical-medical mission with University of Sto, Tomas Medical Mission, Inc., Region I Medical Center, Dagupan Doctors Villaflor Memorial Hospital and Pangasinan Medical Society (PMS); nutrition program with Unilever, Mead Johnson, Kabisig ng Lahi, DepEd, PMS, Inner Wheel Club of Dagupan and the CSI Group of Companies.
Cancer check-up and screening with the PMS; Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints for wheelchair distribution; screening of hearing-impaired children for distribution of hearing aids; wheelchairs and nebulizers with Dr. Ashok Vasandani; and health care for pregnant mothers.
For public services, the city budgeted the amount of P237 million pesos or 18 percent less than 2013 and has already accomplished the following: disaster preparedness seminars in the barangays; turn-over of the new dredging machine from Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH); opening of the Public Alert and Response Management Center (PARMC); free life skill swimming lessons toward a drown-free city for 6,000 children; and Rapid Earthquake Damage Assessment System (REDAS) seminar.
Under waste management, the city have the wrappers to pavers program in coordination with DepEd and Unilever; the MOA signing and partnership with Procter and Gamble and Sure Global W2W1 for the “waste to worth project”; and the zero-waste initiative.
For economic services, the city budgeted P162 million or 16.1 percent more than 2013. Under this program is the branding of the Dagupan bangus with the creation of the Bangus Development Team which will take charge in the branding and marketing of bangus in the whole world.
“Soon our Dagupan bangus will be sporting a ‘tail tag’ to distinguish it from others. From here on, only franchised retailers in Dagupan and Metro Manila will be selling the “world’s tastiest bangus” so to ensure Dagupan bangus lovers that they are buying the real ones,” Fernandez said.
Upcoming projects include reconstruction of the One Stop Shop Business Center at the city hall; construction of a two-storey building with 10 classrooms at Juan P. Guadiz Elementary School, Poblacion Oeste and Carael Elementary School; construction of a multipurpose hall at East Central Integrated School and North Central Elementary School; construction of an evacuation building in Salapingao; rehabilitation of Magsaysay Market and upgrading of PCC pavement along Reyes Street.
Fernandez also pointed out of her firm resolve to capture back the Mc Adore Hotel not only because it was undervalued, but even more, the city need it as a vertical evacuation center in case of a tsunami requiring a 14- minute response time as advised by PHIVOLCS officials.
“We will continue to stand by the findings of the court and we will fight it out in the court if we must. We will also continue to fight for the recovery of the money paid out for the overhauled AWAI property,” Fernandez assured. (JosephCBacani/CIO/05-23-2014)