Below is the full transcript of the State of the City Address of Marikina City Mayor Marides C. Fernando.
MAYOR MA. LOURDES C. FERNANDO
STATE OF THE CITY ADDRESS
6th Regular Session of the 5th City Council of Marikina
11 February 2009
Many wonder why tourists keep coming to our city when it is not even considered a tourist destination. For the record, a total of 141,000 local tourists visited our city in 2008, excluding those who were not documented by our Tourism Office. Tourism Secretary Ace Durano offered a concise answer: Marikina’s healthy environment, peaceful and orderly conditions, disciplined citizenry, and good governance effectively serve as tourist attractions, making our city one of the most visited non-tourist spots in the Philippines in 2008.
Business locators also made their presence felt in 2008, with SM City Marikina leading the way. This mall was simply a dream of generations before. Now it is a reality. What makes it stand out from the rest is its location: the Marikina River Park. The idea of a mall rising in a site that used to be a haven of squatter colonies may seem hard to fathom. But its existence validates Marikina’s capacity as an environmental leader. It also lends credence to our belief that “Sa Marikina Posible!”
Over the past years, our city has effectively leveraged four key assets: infrastructure, innovation, human capital, and quality of place. Underlying this achievement is a form of governance that encourages growth, embraces reform, and celebrates creativity. We have managed development in a measured and sensitive manner while sharpening our economic focus and competitiveness. We have successfully shaped our city into a place where people want to come and stake a claim to its progress. We succeeded because we were guided by scientific approaches. We governed based on research and data and not on whims or political compromises.
We have done much in the past several years that turned things around in a trend-setting fashion. Our city, though, has touched only the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. We still have an unfinished business to get us there where we all want to be: a truly livable and competitive city with a business-friendly environment.
Allow me to walk you through some of our milestones in 2008.
In the Area of Infrastructure
We have pursued horizontal and vertical infrastructure to include the following: the new DepEd Building (which now houses the Division Office); new school buildings in Malanday and Nangka, respectively, totalling 78 classrooms; extension of Dutch Olandes (covering 57 meters and new facades for 15 units); multi-purpose gyms in Concepcion Uno and Concepcion Dos; Tañong and Fortune Barangay Halls; construction of the Marikina Convention Center; extension of Mt Kennedy Street (an alternative road that connects Sumulong Highway and Gil Fernando Avenue); completion of 56 kilometers of bicycle lane which is connected to MRT Station; improvement of J. Molina Drainage Outfall from Concepcion Creek to Bayan-bayanan Interceptor to arrest flooding in the area; and start of construction of Septage Treatment Facility at IVC Olandes in coordination with Manila Water Company
Our job is not done once students complete high school. Our goal is to see that our investments in educating students in the elementary and high school levels provide them with the ability to pursue advanced education and training that today’s labor market values so highly.
It is in this light that we conducted the first Education Summit in Marikina with the intent of aligning local education with the industry requirements. The summit came up with 18 resolutions from various stakeholders geared toward making local education a potent force in economic dynamism.
I am proud to report to you that the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Marikina has recorded a 69-percent passing rate in the Criminology Licensure Exam, which is much higher than the national passing rate of 33%. With a passing rate of 86%, PLMAR is also one of the top 10 institutions in the country in 2008 in the Teachers Licensure Exam.
In the Area of Peace and Order
We waged a constant battle against criminality. Our crime volume in 2008 was way below that of other towns and cities in Metro Manila and in other urban centers.
We were able to increase police visibility by providing additional vehicles for mobility, and by enabling our civilian forces, specifically Bantay Bayan and Barangay Tanod, to help watch over our communities. While senior citizens and women dominate Bantay Bayan, it remains a highly effective organization. This is a notable development that reflects our concepts of productivity and self-worth.
We have installed close circuit cameras in the market zone for improved security. This undertaking has contributed significantly in making our public market the safest in Metro Manila.
The citation received by the Marikina Police Station as the Best in the National Capital Region for two consecutive years (2007 and 2008) underlines our efficacy in maintaining peace and order in our city. Congratulations to the men and women of our local PNP. Your dedicated efforts have indeed bolstered the sense of security not just of our citizens but also of business people and investors. I challenge you to continue to lead, serve, and excel with utmost professionalism.
We have progressively pursued e-governance to enhance the client-friendly image of the City Hall. Because of computerization, we now have more accurate real property assessment resulting to higher revenues from real property taxes. But of course, our long-term vision is to achieve full computerization that will allow online application, registration, and payment. We envision our people to be able to transact with government from the comfort of their homes.
We have put in place a Virtual Ordinance Library, an on-line compilation of approved city ordinances which are downloadable. Easy access to ordinances is a critical element in planning, education and decision making.
We have gone far in our pursuit of e-governance. This is validated by the Technology Leadership Award, an international recognition given to our Wireless Integrated Network System by the Microsoft Asian Pacific Region.
In the Area of Finance
In 2008, we generated a gross annual income of Php1.5 billion, which is Php191 million higher than that of the previous year. We attained this despite the Php24-million reduction in our Internal Revenue Allotment resulting from the creation of new cities in the Philippines. I must thank the men and women of all income-generating offices for their remarkable performances. Higit akong nagpapasalamat sa ating mga kababayan sa kanilang pagbabayad ng tamang buwis. Ito’y repleksyon ng inyong paggalang sa pamahalaan at sa kakayahan nitong maibigay ang kaukulang programa at serbisyo sa mamamayan nang may pag-iingat at malasakit sa kaban ng bayan.
Bilang pagpapahalaga sa malaking bahagi ng taxpayers sa ating pamamahala, malugod nating inanyayahang dumalo sa okasyong ito ang sampung early business taxpayers, ang sampung early real property taxpayers, at ang ten highest taxpayers ng ating lungsod. May we ask them to please stand up to be recognized. Mabuhay po kayo!
In the Area of Business and Economy
Our city remains to be a preferred destination for living and business. This is evidenced by the significant number of building permits issued in 2008. We have seen the emergence of new businesses around our city, particularly along J.P. Rizal. A new call center of 2,000 seats will soon open on the 2nd floor of Robinsons Supermarket. We also expect to see the expansion of the Marquinton residential and commercial center in 2009.
In the Area of Environment
We have continued the rehabilitation of the Marikina River with the following activities: fabrication and installation of park furniture, landscaping work, and tree planting. We have developed 23 new parks covering an area of 48,000 square meters. All these are important to maintain a balance between urbanization and environment.
We have started the massive desludging of septic tanks in our city in collaboration with the Manila Water Company. A total of 2,783 septic tanks have been desludged from July to December 2008. Regular desludging of septic tanks is the least our people can do to help improve the quality of our river water and preserve our underground water. We look forward to the day when our people could really come close to touch and smell the river.
In the Area of Community Participation
We have well-organized, dynamic, and highly supportive homeowners and community associations. To get them more involved in community building, we have launched Marikina’s BEST that seeks to recognize associations in the realm of organizational excellence and good practices. We already have a shortlist of associations vying for recognition in various areas such as environment, education, peace and order, and livelihood.
A better managed and educated associations are vital element of community building.
In the Area of Arts and Culture
A strong collaboration of barangays and schools proved pivotal once again in the successful celebration of the 2008 Rehiyon-Rehiyon Festival. The event resonated with creativity and our passion for arts and culture. I reckon that we have witnessed the best celebration of Rehiyon-Rehiyon last year.
I must also thank the barangays for their unequivocal support to our Christmas Festival through their innovative barangay displays. As in previous years, the full support of barangays provides a critical element for success in such a special undertaking.
In the Area of People Empowerment
People empowerment came in the form of knowledge, skills and values training for jobs, entrepreneurship, and professional growth. In 2008, a total of 4,991 people benefited from various interventions under the auspices of the Center for Excellence, City Women’s Council, Nangka Manpower House, and the Marikina Settlements Office. Equally important is the cultivation of the right attitude toward work which most employers are particular about. This is one critical area we have addressed to boost the employability of those seeking jobs.
We have provided job placement assistance to 5,522 job applicants. We also facilitated the hiring of local residents representing 70% of the labor force of SM City Marikina. A series of job fairs organized by our Workers Affairs Office greatly helped in bridging employers and jobseekers.
In the Area of Networking
We have expanded our network in 2008 by establishing new sister town/city alliances with General Trias, Cavite; Angono, Rizal; San Fabian, Pangasinan; Rizal, Kalinga Apayao; Roxas, Palawan; and Busan, South Korea. Such alliances provide avenues for meaningful networking, particularly in the areas of trade, business, and arts and culture.
To date, our city has a total of 65 local sister towns/cities and 11 international sister cities. Our partnership with Chiba, Japan which started three years ago has also grown stronger in terms of sports programs for the youth and elderly. This is evidenced by the advent of ground golf in our city which Japan introduced as a lifelong sports for the senior citizens and continuing baseball training program for the youth.
An Important National Recognition
Marikina took the limelight once again in 2008 for being cited by the Galing Pook as one of the top 10 local government units in the Philippines with excellent and innovative practices. The Central Warehousing Management System of our General Services Office became our city’s 8th Galing Pook award-winning program. This corporate-like practice involves a systematic way of stockpiling, releasing, documenting, and monitoring items with the primary objective of safeguarding and ensuring the optimum and efficient utilization of resources. This innovative practice is believed to be the first of its kind in local government.
In the Area of Legislation
I must commend our city council headed by Vice Mayor Marion Andres for enacting vital legislations and for taking the side of urgency over popularity in the performance of their mandate. You have passed ordinances that may not be palatable to certain sectors, but you stood your ground because of your steadfast commitment to good governance. Some of the notable ordinances passed by the City Council in 2008 are as follows:
Ø Ordinance granting discount privileges on diagnostic laboratory procedures and other health services rendered by the City Health Office of Marikina and prescribing guidelines thereof.
Ø Ordinance prohibiting computer shops/internet café from running on-line computer games from 2:00 A.M. to 6:00 A.M. and providing penalties for violation thereof.
Ø Ordinance requiring all banking and other financial institution to conduct a customary testing on their alarm system and video monitoring devices and providing penalties for non-compliance.
Ø Ordinance creating a uniform numbering system for the implementation of a citywide structure and premises numbering in the City of Marikina and appropriating funds for the purpose.
Ø Ordinance establishing a vocational training center in every Barangay in Marikina for the out-of-school youth of the city and authorizing the use of funds of the sangguniang kabataan of each Barangay for the purpose.
Let me cite a concrete example of the positive impact of a local ordinance. In 2007 an ordinance was enacted granting 10% discount for advanced payment of real property tax. A total of 2,197 taxpayers paid their real property taxes in advance before the end of 2008.
I acknowledge with gratitude the invaluable support extended to me by this august body, the Sangguniang Panglungsod. You have labored quietly yet effectively, and have even gone beyond your mandate in the spirit of public service. You have helped facilitate the fulfillment of our endeavors in many ways. I want to reassure you that your trust and all your efforts are not in vain; together we can hold our heads up before our constituents who voted us into office.
I take my hat off to our two congressmen: Cong. Marcy Teodoro and Cong. Del de Guzman whose wide array of projects ranging from road improvement, multi-purpose hall, medical assistance to educational scholarship have immensely contributed to our community building. Suffice it to say that we have voted into office two congressmen who have proven equal to their tasks. Thank you for making Marikeños proud.
I also recognize the hard work and exemplary performance of our City Hall employees. A corporate way of managing the City Hall proved crucial once again in getting things done the way it should be. Thank you for living-up to our standards as a professional and working bureaucracy.
Let me likewise acknowledge the faithful and invaluable support of the judiciary, national agencies, public and private schools, socio-civic and religious groups, people’s organizations, various angkan, the youth, and senior citizens. National offices are likewise performing excellently due to the orderly environment. I cannot say thank you enough for making governance a shared responsibility.
The best way to predict the future is to create it. We have taken steps to create a better future, and we will continue to do so in the years ahead.
In 2009, we can expect the following:
Ø Formulation of measures that will address the present global financial crisis to include incentives that will attract new investors to Marikina and will allow existing businesses to hire additional 10% employees on a volunteer program.
Ø Creation of more jobs and economically-uplifting opportunities
Ø Completion of the House Numbering Project for better order in the city
Ø More tertiary schools to locate in Marikina
Ø More active role of the private groups in organizing special events using the Marikina Convention Center to create a strong statement of a thriving and dynamic local economy
Ø Establishment of the Family History Center
Ø Launching of Marikina Book written by the Ateneo School of Government about our city’s transformation to be disseminated to LGUs across the country in line with our commitment to share good practices in local governance
Ø Greater investment in technology and computerization for better governance
Ø Greater investment in education
Ø Greater investment in people through meaningful interventions, e.g., training, job placement
Ø A more equipped Marikina Healthy City Center
Ø Implementation of the All City Employees College Graduates Program targeting 50% in three years time
Ø Housing project for employees
Ø Tenement housing
Ø Construction of two more septage treatment facilities in Kalumpang and Nangka, respectively
Ø Streamlined business processing
Ø Stronger advocacy for productivity in the city hall
Ø More aggressive nutrition program to include 10 more nutripan projects in public schools
Ø Continuing development of pocket parks, including the establishment of Brampton and Korean sisterhood parks
Ø Completion of road, drainage and sidewalk improvement projects to put order everywhere. We will continue to showcase Marikina as a community where order makes a big difference
We face a greater challenge in 2009 – the challenge to dream and achieve bigger things. We have to live up to the expectations not only of our constituents but also of Filipinos in general who hold our city in high esteem and are benchmarking with Marikenian practices. Change has become not a campaign phrase in Marikina – but a reality.
Change which started in Marikina is now being embraced by Metro Manila. To those who still resist change – there is a compelling urge for them to be a part of the change revolution that then Mayor BF initiated which is now spreading like wildfire throughout the country. This is what we need to transform the lives of our poorer citizens so they can be a part of the progress that is to come. Hope is alive that the epidemic we have started will infect the whole country. And when that happens – BF as President will make us all proud to be Filipinos.
In his column in the Manila Bulletin, Dr. Jesus Estanislao wrote, “For those losing hope in the future of our country, a visit to Marikina can rekindle that hope because of what is being done there at present and in recent years”. Truly, our city has etched an enviable name and we are challenged to sustain it in the hearts and minds of many people.
Together let us continue to dream and make things happen the Marikina way. Our previous successes should give us the inspiration to face the coming years with the same level of determination and optimism.
Together let us continue to have the will to change and make a difference. We owe it to our children and our children’s children to pursue innovations that create an environment teeming with opportunities
And let us continue to work hard to reinforce our city’s legacy of endless possibilities. We have experienced what it’s like to put our best efforts – and have subsequently reaped the rewards. It’s the same capacity that we should optimize in our quest to achieve bigger and more substantial progress.
May the force of God be with us in 2009. Good evening.
Thanks to Rizza.