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Bacolod City, Philippines Thursday, July 14, 2016
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Guv sets dev't direction,
calls for local rehab plan

Negros Occidental Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. yesterday outlined the development direction he will pursue for Negros Occidental in the next three years, and sought the support of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan to make it happen.

In his State of the Province Address at the inaugural session of the SP at the Capitol Social Hall in Bacolod City, Marañon also stressed that with the renewed anti-illegal drugs campaign, there is a need to address the rush of surrenders by users and pushers.

“We need to address the question on what to do with all these people needing rehabilitation,” he said, adding that a meeting with all the mayors and the police will be held to plan a local rehabilitation program as national policy is being awaited on the matter.

Marañon also said that to mitigate the effects of the La Niña, he is calling on the 31 local government units of the province to establish Local Conservation Areas and to conduct clearing of waterways.

In order to make Negros a green island and the organic food bowl of Asia, the governor said there is also a need to scale up production of high value organic products, like colored rice, cacao and coffee, among others.

The provincial government will also facilitate the crafting or updating of all LGUs' Local Investment and Incentives Code, promote forward linkages with the agricultural and fishery sector, and explore public-private partnerships in promoting rural-based industries, he said.

“We will implement our Provincial Bamboo Development Plan as well as revive the abaca fiber industry that will also complement our silk industry,” he added.

To speed up development in the countryside, the provincial government will also continue supporting micro, small and medium enterprises focusing not only on product development but also on packaging and marketing, the governor said.

He cited the establishment of the Negros First Food Terminal Complex with cold storage facilities, to help farmers, fisher folks and livestock raisers.

“We will encourage our LGUs to establish food processing centers all over the province to value-add agricultural crops, livestock and marine products to extend their shelf life and improve marketability,” Marañon said.

The governor said that with the help of the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Science and Technology, the provincial government is putting up a common-use kitchen for small entrepreneurs undergoing food processing trainings.

This can also serve as training center for people who would like to learn cooking at a cost lower than that at the culinary institutes, he said.

Also to be implemented is the expansion of the Negros Occidental Comprehensive Health Care Program , he said.

Negros Occidental will also collaborate with Negros Oriental for the establishment of a Blood Services Network to ensure adequate safe blood in the island region, he added.

The governor also aims to end malnutrition, especially among children. With the help of civil society partners, the provincial government is putting up two pilot central kitchens in southern Negros to standardize its feeding program for malnourished school children, he said. Once proven effective, we will replicate these all over the province, he added.

The provincial government will also increase scholarship grants, not only for degree courses but also for skills trainings, to include basic language and culture for skilled workers, caregivers and health workers for deployment abroad, he said.

“We will assist maritime graduates for ship-boarding trainings so that they can easily get employed in international shipping companies,” he added.

The provincial government's goal is also to reach 100 percent rice self- sufficiency for Negros Occidental from the current 97 percent by expanding irrigation coverage areas, and facilitating farm mechanization and post-harvest facilities, the governor said.

The livestock industry of the province will also be enhanced, not only to develop it as the next major industry of Negros Occidental second to sugar, but also to support the dispersal program so that the poor and less privileged are given access to alternative livelihood, he said.

The governor aims to transform the Negros Occidental Language and Information Technology Center into the Negros First Institute of Technology with its own building to be constructed in Talisay City, he added.

He also cited the need to upgrade ICT equipment and facilities at the Capitol and establish connectivity with provincial government hospitals, and LGUs.

“We will also push for projects connecting Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental under the Coordinating Roads and Infra Development Project,” he added.

Marañon said that before the end of his term, Negros may yet see the realization of the dream of the late Gov. Joseph Marañon for bridges connecting Panay, Guimaras and Negros.

On March 18, a concept paper for the bridges project was released by the Export-Import Bank of Korea as the agency developer, which estimated the cost of the feasibility study at $800,000, he said.

The provincial government will also continue to empower marginalized sectors and encourage the support of LGUs in their socialized housing projects for the poor, he added.

The Capitol will also work on increasing tourist arrivals in Negros Occidental by 10 to 20 percent, the governor said.

The provincial government is building a hotel at Mambukal Resort in Murcia to meet the influx of tourists, is buying back the employees' farm lots in Brgy. Minoyan for the expansion of the resort towards that area, renovating its convention center, and expanding its catering services, he added.”*CPG



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