Thursday, August 14, 2008

Gov. Espino vows to boost health care, agriculture, tourism and local economy to alleviate poverty in Pangasinan

LINGAYEN --- Gov. Amado T. Espino, Jr. laid out the achievements of the first 365 days of his administration as he vowed to boost the tourism and the economy of Pangasinan in a bid to alleviate poverty and realize his vision to make Pangasinan as the best place to invest, work, live and raise a family.

In his State of the Province Address (SOPA) last Monday, August 4, at the session hall of the newly-refurbished Capitol building, the governor reported the successful transformation of the Capitol building and its environs into a potential tourism landmark of Pangasinan and elevated the attitude of provincial employees into a well-motivated and efficient workforce.
“Noon siguro, ang iniisip ninyo ay pawang panaginip lang ang pinagsasabi ko. Kung ito man ay panaginip, nagkakatotoo na po iyon ngayon,” the Governor said.
Gov. Espino also said that six buses for government employees are set to be purchased to motivate them to work on time.
The governor also bared ways to protect the poor from the economic challenges.
The provincial government has paid a total health premium of P4.8 million for the enrollment of 26,005 heads of indigent families from the 4th and 5th class municipalities to PhilHealth. Some 50,000 health cards of families in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd class municipalities are now under process for enrollment.
Also, the renewal of expired health cards of some 8,083 indigents from the 4th and 5th class municipalities is also under process. This means that a total of 84,088 health card bearing families can avail anytime of the hospitalization and other medical services benefits under the program.

“This will be the first time in the history of Pangasinan that we are taking steps towards a universal enrollment of all indigent heads of families, regardless of political persuasion and party affiliation. I believe that attending to health care needs of the poor should not be tainted with political color,” the Governor said.

“We also want that during this period, all community hospitals will be upgraded from 10 to 15-bed capacity to 25-bed capacity, complete with brand new generators. Hopefully, ECG Machines, blood chemistry analyzer and other basic hospital equipment will be installed in these facilities,” the governor disclosed.

The Governor added that, “as a standard norm of service in all the public hospitals, there will be fully-airconditioned Maternal and Newborn Care Unit plus, additional equipment that include: Fetal Doppler, Pulse oxymeter and ultrasound machines.”

At the same time, all 14 government hospitals are under simultaneous renovation to provide the less fortunate with an optimum health care service.
On the other hand, a centralized procurement system of medicines and medical supplies called Botika ng Probinsiya was established to ensure availability of affordable, safe and good quality drugs for all the 14 government hospitals.
“Because we sell cheaper drugs than private hospitals, there is no logical reason that private drug stores would mushroom in any of our hospitals,” Espino said.
Likewise, Gov. Espino addressed the plight of farmers and fishermen by directing the Provincial Agriculturist and Provincial Veterinary to teach them the modern technology in farming, while the simultaneous renovation of seven agriculture demo stations in Sta. Barbara, San Quintin, Dasol, Mangatarem, Bolinao, Alaminos, Natividad are ongoing. The demo station in Libsong, Lingayen is already finished.
The Governor also reported the accomplishment of his administration in generating jobs for the unemployed.
“From July 2007 to June 2008, a total of 1,303 job applicants were successfully placed within the period. This is a big increase from the previous record of 569 placements for the period July 2006 to June 2007,” the Governor noted.
According to the Governor, other source of job generation came from the livelihood programs initiated by the Provincial Population Office (PPO) and PESO. Some 28 organized groups have been granted with livelihood loans.
Under his administration, housing projects have already gained momentum as 120 hectares in 20 areas throughout the province have been identified for grand socialized housing that would address the bulk of squatting problem in the province.
The Governor further stated that 6,000 dwelling units are also in the offing through “Abong Tayo Eletneg Program (ATEP) in partnership with Gawad Kalinga (GK). Site development has started last March.
On education, Gov. Espino disclosed that by September, the Teachers Guidebooks prepared and developed by DepEd Pangasinan Division I and II for all public teachers in Pangasinan will be released.
“Ang ibig pong sabihin nun, dahil iba-iba ang libro ng ating mga estudyante, gagawa po tayo ng manual nila para ang ituturo sa pinaka-malayong barangay ay pareho ang itinuturo dito sa ating mga kabayanan,” Gov. Espino said.
His 50-minute speech, attended by Vice Gov. Marlyn Primicias-Agabas, provincial board members, various officials from Pangasinan, prominent figures as well as his mother, wife children, relatives and classmates, also outlined tourist attractions that would translate to several income opportunities, such as the Capitol building which was described as world-class and the most beautiful Capitol building in the country by national figures who visited the province recently.
Aside from the Capitol area, the beach, the walkways, and other buildings within the Capitol complex are considered as tourist attractions. The transformation of government hospitals and agri-stations are also cited as future sites for medical and eco-tourism.
The newly-renovated Capitol Resort Hotel, the purchased of six tourist-friendly buses, the Narciso Ramos Sports and Civic Center which is an ideal place for several sports events, further perked up the interest of local tourist to visit Pangasinan.
To give convenience to Pangasinenses, as well as to investors and tourist, the provincial government continues to improve bridges and to pave road network.
To catapult Pangasinan to unprecedented economic boom, Espino said that he is pushing for three mega infrastructure projects. These projects include the commercial airport, international seaport and special eco-tourism zone.
On problem with climate change, Gov. Espino has been implementing the Green the Mountains Again (GMA) program aimed at planting millions of seedlings to be distributed to schools and barangays. As Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Sec. Lito Atienza deputized him as “Special Environment and Natural Resources Officer” for Pangasinan, Espino now have an autonomous authority on environment concerns in the province.

The Governor is also continuously intensifying his peace and order campaign. He had already issued manhunt for the hired killer that gunned down Agno mayor Arthur Cabantac.
On the issue of family planning, he said that couples should have the option to choose between the medical (artificial) and natural family planning methods depending on their religious beliefs and conviction.

On top of these, the governor noted that Pangasinan is on the right track in accomplishing his major thrusts for the province as shown in the good standing of fiscal status. There was 47 percent increase in local income while expenditures went down by 14 percent. (PIO / Ninia F. Nicolas)

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