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PUBLIC ADVISORY

Inaugural Address of

The Honorable Matthew J. Marcos Manotoc

Governor of the Province of Ilocos Norte

[Delivered at the Ilocos Norte Centennial Arena, Laoag City, on June 27, 2022]

Almost three years have passed since I took my oath as your Governor. In that same year, we found our Province ravaged by a Tropical Storm and not long after we were confronted by a pandemic like no other.

But we have come a long, long way since then. We called upon government workers, the healthcare sector, the private sector, volunteers, who answered the call and went above and beyond. As a community, we came together to safeguard our people and make sure their needs were met.

Agyamannak kanyayo amin. The result of all of your efforts is a safer and stronger home for every Ilokano. On this day, we again commit to forge forward.

Biagen ti agrikultura.

We have made great progress in agriculture. Our investments in the last two years in infrastructure and equipment have bolstered the productivity and profitability of our dear farmers. These include:

  • 272 small farm reservoirs totaling 544 hectares
  • 5 small water impounding projects totaling 215 hectares
  • 18 multi-purpose drying pavements
  • 64 tractors
  • 8 combine harvesters
  • 12 tobacco curing barns

We invested over Php 562 million in the last two years for agricultural machineries, equipment, and inputs.

Our partners at the Department of Agriculture have also committed a trading post for our produce and two cold storage facilities: one for tomatoes and one for fish.

We will continue our shift to high value crops or HVCs such as garlic, mango, dragon fruit, shallots, onions, and tobacco. For we know these HVCs are more marketable than palay.

Sa mga mannalon po natin, we assure you of full-service assistance, from pre-planting to marketing, to produce more through technology and mechanization and improve our irrigation.

Sa mga fisherfolk at livestock growers po natin, we pledge more support than ever.

We shall likewise prioritize product-processing and agri-business to capture more stages of the value chain.

Gusto ko pong magpasalamat muli sa lahat ng ating magsasaka, mangingisda, at mga livestock growers, ang ating mga “backliners” sa pandemya na tumutulong upang may sapat na pagkain ang bawat pamilyang Ilokano.

Naniniwala po tayo na ang pinakamabisang tulong ay mga programa na susuporta sa kabuhayan, titiyakin na may magandang ani, at magbibigay ng sapat na kita.

Pasantaken ti turismo.

Our efforts towards a safe travel experience paid off when Ilocos Norte became the first and only Province to receive our safe travel stamp from the World Travel and Tourism Council.

Looking back, our Tourism Livelihood Continuity Program, where we expended Php 20 million, sustained thousands of tourism workers at the height of the pandemic.

We were able to develop new tourist attractions such as the Paoay Lake Water Park and the stacked stones and mirror installations at the Paoay Sand Dunes.

We have launched our new “I’m IN” tourism ad campaign which pushes Ilocos Norte to the forefront, to carve out our place amongst the premiere tourist destinations in the country.

Our updated Tourism Masterplan, by world-renowned Ilokano Architect “Jun” Palafox, has been completed and will guide our tourism developments moving forward.

Nabilbileg nga ekonomia.

We cushioned the impact of the recent economic downturn on our people. We extended a range of support programs to MSMEs worth over 400M pesos such as cash grants, micro-financing, assistance to sari-sari stores, livelihood kits, pay-now-work-later, and the waiving of the Governor’s Fees. This year, we will open our MSME Incubation Center at La Tabacalera which will cultivate and service our MSMEs.

The Provincial Government also undertook a more aggressive job creation campaign. Aside from our job fairs, we launched our online job portal, and we will continue to conduct training programs in line with the jobs available.

We secured funding from the national government for the improvement of Laoag International Airport and Currimao Seaport, and we shall tap these as we work towards the establishment of our economic zones.

We will continue to lobby for investments in our twin powerhouse sectors of agriculture and tourism, while also inviting investments in renewable energy, manufacturing, services, and responsible mining. We envision Ilocos Norte as the gateway to East Asia and the commercial hub of Northern Luzon.

Sapasap a salun-at.

In the past three years, we have spent around 290M pesos on the improvement of infrastructure and over Php 434 million on medical equipment and supplies. Last year alone, we handed out almost Php 47 million in financial assistance, hazard pay, and special risk allowance to our health workers. The establishment of a Medical Oxygen Refilling Plant before the onset of COVID-19 was key when the pandemic hit. Ilocos Norte ranked 3rd in country for our vaccination rate.

Malaki na po ang pinagbago ng ating provincial hospital, ang GRBASMH. Ngayon, mayroon na tayong siyam na bago o mas pinagandang gusali. Sa GRBASMH din nagkaroon ng pinakaunang Malasakit Center na may zero balance billing.

We shall continue to upgrade our medical care capacities, down to the barangay level, and introduce telemedicine, as we ensure quality universal healthcare.

Mapagbiagan a probinsia.

We are currently in the last stages of our Big 3 Projects, high-impact infrastructure projects that will be a stimulus to improved public service, commerce, recreation, and health.

In the past 3 years, we have spent over Php 900 million on infrastructure including roads, buildings, community spaces, tourist sites, animal shelters, and flood control projects.

Nagsimula na rin po ang pagpapatayo ng Laoag-San Nicolas bypass road o ang Third Bridge mula sa Robinsons mall hanggang sa silangan ng sentro ng Laoag bilang solusyon natin sa traffic sa Gilbert Bridge.

We also secured Php 380 million from the Department of Transportation for our long overdue Laoag Transport Terminal.

Our PUV drivers will receive another round of increased financial assistance starting next week after we distributed almost Php 43 million to our PUV drivers last year alone.

We seek to partner with the City Government of Laoag to transform the City into a biking city, one that is truly pedestrian-friendly and does not rely on cars in the city center.

Itandudo dagiti agtutubo.

We invested our special education fund heavily for over 12,000 tablets for our learners. Other priorities included procuring textbooks, hiring special education teachers, and infrastructure.

We rolled out our educational vehicle or “School-on-Wheels” to bring learning to rural areas for out-of-school youths and adults in the alternative learning system.

We worked with the Sangguniang Panlalawigan to pass landmark legislation that expanded the Sirib Scholarship Program by adding Doctor of Medicine, Arts, and Agriculture and Fisheries scholarships. We shall add Legal and STEM scholarships this year.

In the last 2 years, we exhausted over Php 266 million for education, mostly to our scholarship fund.

Sisikapin po natin habulin ang mga nawalang taon at ibalik ang ating mga mag-aaral sa iskwelahan.

Kasabay nito, mahalaga na mabigyang diin ang mental health ng ating mga kabataan at lahat sa pamamagitan ng ating sariling Mental Health Center "Speak Up I’m Here".

We thank our kakailian, local chief executives and government officials, and other stakeholders for joining our public consultation for the dredging of our river systems which will lessen flooding and reduce our vulnerabilities to climate change.

We also set the goal of improving our mobile and internet reception as a means to enable those working or studying from afar.

We will work tirelessly with INEC to finally decrease our electricity rates. As the renewable capital of the Philippines, we must make sure our people feel the benefit of our energy surplus.

Nataltalged ken nabilbileg.

You have bestowed upon me an overwhelming mandate to continue to lead our beloved Province. For that, I deeply and sincerely thank you.

I pledge to you today to continue to listen to you. To continue to make decisions based on what you need. And together, with a hopeful resolve, we shall steer our beloved Province towards equitable and sustainable growth.

Mangbiag, mangpadur-as, ken mangpasantak!

Agbiag ti Ilocos Norte!

Dios ti agngina.

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