THE STORY IN NUMBERS – Mayor Belen T. Fernandez delivers her fifth State of the City Address before some 15,000 people of Dagupan City during a special session of the Sangguniang Panlungsod at CSI Stadia on March 20. (CIO photos by Arriz Fruelda and Jojo Tamayo)

DAGUPAN CITY – Dagupan has finally risen from the ashes, transforming itself into a robust city with a stable economy never before seen since it attained cityhood in 1947.

This was gleaned from the State of the City Address (SOCA) of Mayor Belen T. Fernandez during a special session of the Sangguniang Panlungsod at CSI Stadia on March 20.

“For the last five years, the sun has always been shining in Dagupan. The fruits of our labor cannot be dimmed, darkened nor concealed — it simply cannot be done, neither by wizardry nor magic,” said Fernandez in a fiery speech that was also directed against peddlers of fake news.

The mayor revealed that city is now the richest local government unit in the entire province and the Ilocos region after reaching the threshold of P1.010 billion pesos in 2019. This, she said, marks the fastest and highest economic growth rate in the city’s history, as compared to a measly P512 million in 2012 during the past administration.

Fernandez also revealed an influx of new investors to the city through the help of the Dagupan City Investment and Development Board which ensured that incoming investors are attended and their papers processed immediately.

Among the new major players that came were Filinvest Land Inc., SM Supermall, the City Mall, Sta. Lucia Land Development for Almeria Verde as well as ACE Hospital and many others.

“Dagupan is in its finest and strongest state than when we first found it in 2013. How did we do it? We were uncompromising and forceful – walang korapsyon, walang tong-pats, walang red tape, walang ghost projects, at walang magic,” intoned Fernandez.

Responsible fiscal management has led the city to register its highest cash surplus yet of P178 million in 2018. This is the fifth consecutive cash surplus of the city and so far the biggest in a decade.

With the city being awash with cash, city employees were able to enjoy a bigger windfall. Dagupan marked its highest appropriation for additional bonuses in 2018 at P22 million, as compared to zero in 2010 under the past city administration.

Market collections have nearly doubled from P37 million in 2010 to P71.8 million in 2018 while restroom collections reached an all-time high last year at P9.8 million, compared to only P655,000 in 2010.

“I am often asked: What do we do with all these money? Mga kaibigan, ang sagot ko: Lahat napupunta sa serbisyo. Serbisyo para sa tao, para sa bayan, para sa lahat – katumbas ng lahat ng inyong pagtitiwala at pagmamahal,” said Fernandez.

On health, Mayor Fernandez revealed that the City Health Office is serving an average of 150 to 200 patients per day in addition to the 125 to 180 patients per day being served in the barangays. OPD consultations registered by the City Health Office also increased exponentially from 12,000 in 2013 to 32,969 in 2018.

A total of 40,219 patients were also served in barangay clinics while 13,382 patients were served by medical missions, cataract and minor operations since 2013.

The city also recorded zero human rabies case per report of the Animal Bite Center.

Healthcare delivery systems have improved with doctors regularly visiting all nearby and far-flung barangays and services are also made more accessible as nurses were stationed in each barangay.

Fernandez also credited the city’s major partners in health who extended their medical services to Dagupeños. Among them include the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Medical Mission Inc., Philippine Medical Association (PMA) of Oklahoma, Region 1 Medical Center, Dagupan Doctor’s Villaflor Memorial Hospital, Philippine Obstetrical and Gynecological Society Foundation Inc. (POGS), Pangasinan Medical Society, Inc. (PMS), Philippine Tuberculosis Society and philanthropist brothers Dr. Ashok and Rocky Vasandani.

The city also continues to strengthen its campaign against tuberculosis and pneumonia with its Ubo Patrol program as well as dengue prevention and control program through the conduct of regular health teachings, misting operations and programs such as Tanggal Gulong sa Bubong at Silong”.

The city government’s brand of Unliserbisyo is also reflected in its socio-economic programs.

A total of 231,659 Dagupeños were also served by the City Social Welfare and Development Office since 2013. These include women, senior citizens, persons with disability and families.

On the other hand, the City Population Office also recorded 2,230 couples married in a civil ceremony officiated by Mayor Fernandez while the Civil Registry Office recorded 1,062 beneficiaries who availed of free late registration and 95 children registered under the mobile registration and the “Lehitimo Ako, Batang Dagupeño” program.

Under the City Veterinary Office, over 12,000 dogs and cats from all 31 barangays were vaccinated. 770 dogs and cats were registered for walk-in rabies vaccinations, while 595 pets received veterinary services such as consultation aside from rabies vaccine.

Meanwhile, the city’s Public Employment and Services Office (PESO) continues to ensure that Dagupeños have plenty of employment opportunities through the regular job fairs. The office also regularly extends assistance to Dagupeños working overseas and has already resolved a total of 148 OFW cases as of March 2019.

On agriculture, Fernandez said the city continues to prioritize the livelihood of marginal fisherfolk. Since 2013, some 776 households were provided with farm and fishing livelihood opportunities.

A total of 1,161 illegal fishing structures were dismantled while a total of 785 fish cages were registered and issued with permits to operate through the mobile registration conducted by the City Agriculture Office and the One Stop Business Center.

On disaster preparedness, the city invested in rescue vehicles, heavy equipment and watercrafts that are used in responding to all kinds of emergency situations.

In 2018, the city purchased three fire and rescue trucks, bringing the total number of rescue vehicles and watercraft in the city to 40.

The city also turned over a penetrator truck to the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) Dagupan, bringing the total number of operating fire trucks in the city to 14.

Fernandez also revealed her long-term vision for a disaster-prepared city as she plans to establish the Dagupan City Public Safety Training Center. The facility is set to be the first of its kind in Luzon and will provide training to Dagupeños in dealing with natural and man-made disasters in a simulated environment.

On education, the local government continues to invest in the futures of the youth through the MBTF Scholarship program.

The program continues with a budget of P22 million in 2019, compared to its previous P3 million budget in 2013, allowing a total of 1,600 needy Dagupeños to enroll in universities and colleges so that they can pursue a course of their own choice.

To date, the city government has produced a total of 357 graduates, with 21 among them passing the state board.

“My fellow Dagupeños, we will continue to do this to ensure that in the future, more of our citizens are holders of college degrees and are employable – more than any other city in the Philippines,” said Fernandez.

Yearly appropriation for education programs has also doubled from its P69 million budget in 2013. It went up to nearly P130 million in 2018.

The city government also has allotted P38 million for the Special Education Fund.

Aside from education programs, the city government continues to extend its support to the youth through sports development programs. The city reinvigorated its sports policies when it established the Dagupan City Sports Commission which helped support and develop the skills of young Dagupeño athletes.

Yearly appropriation for youth and sports development was also all-time high at P15.4 million in 2018. This is bigger by nearly P15 million to the P494,777 budget allotted by the past city administration in  2012.

As a result, Dagupan was adjudged as back-to-back champion during the Region 1 Athletic Association  (R1AA) meet after successfully defending its championship  this year.

From winning only the “best in uniform” award in 2013, the Balon Dagupan team rose from  being a perennial cellar-dweller to clinch the top spot in the R1AA for two consecutive years.

The city also made history when it surpassed its total medal count from last year when they amassed 87 gold, 64 silver and 55 bronze medals this year.

On infrastructure, Mayor Fernandez disclosed that the physical development of the city is “growing at an amazing speed.”

Since 2013, the city government has established a total of 40 government facilities, 88 road improvement projects and purchased 117 brand new government vehicles.

A total of 211 proposed projects are also set to be accomplished in 2019 which includes numerous road improvement projects in the barangays.

Fernandez also detailed plans for the city in the coming years as she intends to “bring Dagupan to a far greater level of progress and prosperity – not just for itself – but also for itself people.”

Among the major development projects lined up for 2020 to 2022 include the rehabilitation and maintenance of People’s Astrodome, the revival of PNR site, the development of Inarangan Lake, the tourism development of Pugaro, the Tondaligan redevelopment program, the Waste 2 Worth project, and many more.

“I declare my intention to fulfill and complete our remaining vision and finish our programs and projects strongly until 2022. Today we all saw what we did together since 2013. Without doubt, the state of our city is at its strongest since our founding in 1947.”

As a testament to the Unliserbisyo brand of governance under her administration, Fernandez bared the numerous awards and blessings that the city government received over the past year.

These include the third consecutive citation as Overall Most Competitive City in the Region (ranking number one in both government efficiency and economic dynamism), the provincial and regional awards as Best Performing Shared Service Facilities (SSF) project, the silver award for high functionality rating in the National Anti-Drug Abuse Council Performance Award, and the Masidhing Paghanga award.

Last year, Dagupan was adjudged as the Most Child-Friendly City in the country by the Council for the Welfare of Children.

The 2017 Presidential Award for Child-Friendly Municipalities and Cities (PACFMC) award was conferred by President Rodrigo Duterte to Liga ng Mga Barangay President Dean Bryan Kua and other city officials.

Fernandez recalled the city was on the verge of bankruptcy due to mismanagement and graft and corruption before she took over the helm of the city in 2013.

Immediately after, because of hard work and efficiency, she was able to make a turnaround on the finances of the city.  She announced that today, Dagupan is now debt-free after paying the remaining loan obtained by the past administration.

“Our final and remaining loan repayment has already ended. We have now brought Dagupan back to its best ever creditworthy standing in history,” said Fernandez.

She also vowed to bring back up to the very last centavo the P16.12 million paid by the city for the 30-hectare Awai land that was never turned over to the city, and chided the past city administration for buying a dredging machine, which was made to appear as new when in fact only reconditioned, for P40 million and is now beyond repair.

The MC Adore building and its premises were sold at only P119 million although they are worth P450 million or more.

“Dagupan City is a home of respectable people. They don’t deserve mere promises of politicians who later abandoned their duties in pursuit of personal glory. Dagupenos deserve concrete actions that produce the best results for their home city. The choice has always been in our hands – we choose Dagupan’s glory,” said Fernandez. (Verdelle De Vera/CIO)