MBTF: Dagupan now the nation’s “comeback kid”

DAGUPAN CITY – This city is now “one of the leading and celebrated breakout stars among cities in the Philippines” seeking to break into the league of the top 10 cities in the country.


This was bared to the people of Dagupan by Mayor Belen T. Fernandez when she delivered her State of the City Address (SOCA) on April 3 in simple rites held at the city plaza.


“No one could have imagined Dagupan would get to where we are now in a short span of time. Based on the latest Philippine Competitiveness Index, our city has been adjudged the most improved among all cities in Region where we advanced in ranking while our neighbors declined,” said Fernandez.


From 2013 to 2016, the city made a big leap by landing in the number 15 spot among cities throughout the country in the Philippine Competitiveness Index.


The city for four straight years has closed the books with an actual revenue growth from P512 million in 2010 to P756 million in 2016.


“I am happy to report that we have consistently posted exponential cash surplus for four straight years, capped by our strongest showing in 2016 by an all time high of more than 120 million pesos,” said Fernandez.


The aggressive tax mapping, collection efficiency strategies and issuance of notice of delinquencies also resulted in improved collections in business taxes and license fees from P37 million in 2010 to P67 million in 2016.


The operation of the city’s restrooms continues to be impressive, notching a spike from P650,000 in 2010 to more than P7 million in one year  year.


“Our strong finance has made possible for us to grant full productivity and performance based incentives and hefty 13th and 14th month bonuses to our 583-strong personnel of the Dagupan City government, and saved enough to meet the incremental increases to the base pay of our employees pursuant to the provisions of the Salary Standardization Law IV,” said Fernandez.


Overtime pay has also gone down to its historic lowest level and prevented waste of government resources by rationalizing work implementation from P10 million in 2010 to P3.6 million in 2016.


Fernandez also managed to bring allocation of resources for donation down to its lowest levels in the city’s history from P53 million in 2011 to P9 million in 2016.


She adopted reasonable austerity measures and brought down the city’s foreign travel spending from P885 million in 2011 to zero in 2016, “because I am spending my own money”.


She also instilled discipline in repair and maintenance of the city’s equipment, fuel expenses and supplies.


In the repair and maintenance of construction and heavy equipment the city incurred only P469,000 in 2016 from P2 million in 2011 while in the repair and maintenance of the city’s motor vehicles the city incurred only P2 million in 2016 from P3 million in 2011.


Fuel expenses went down from P10 million in 2011 to P5 million in 2016 and office supplies from P7 million in 2011 to P5 million in 2016.


“We ended the era of wanton waste of government resources, which has been abused for so many years without sacrificing quality public service. If we sustain our concerted efforts towards honesty, performance, hard work, perseverance and fiscal discipline, in no time shall we be able to build Dagupan as the first one billion peso economy among towns and cities in Pangasinan,” said Fernandez as she revealed that Dagupan was able to build its strongest economy for the last 70 years.


Fernandez also introduced several vital pieces of legislation and policy, which was fully supported by the Sanggunian Panglungsod.


Among these were the Revised Comprehensive Land Use Plan 2015-2025, Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance, Revised Ordinance on Issuance of Ordinance Violation Receipt (OVR), Institutionalizing Measures for the Promotion and Advancement of Bangus Industry in Dagupan City, Amending Ordinance No. 1748-2008 otherwise known as Adopting a Revised Comprehensive and Mandatory Traffic Code in the City of Dagupan, and Declaring every 23rd day of December in the City of Dagupan as Victor Edades Day.


With the city’s rebounding economy, Mayor Fernandez made a smart and strategic investment in improving the quality of life of the people, which has always been at the center of her development agenda.


This was done when the city government allocated P10 million in 2016 to send more than 500 well-deserving children of needy Dagupeños to universities and colleges, to pursue a career of their own choice under the MBTF Scholarship Program.


To date, 120 of the scholars have already graduated from the total number of 520 scholars.


At the same time, she reformed the city’s sports policy and administrative structures and created the Dagupan City Sports Council and the Dagupan City Sports Commission in collaboration with DepEd, sporting officials, coaches and many parents.


To date, the city’s ranking in the R1AA from number seven in 2014 rose to number 2 in 2015 and in 2016 with 51 gold, 40 silver and 40 bronze medals.


“This is Dagupan’s best performance ever in the history of our participation in the Region 1 Athletic Association Meet for the last 30 years. There is no denying that our city is an emerging sports powerhouse. I vow to continue to throw our full support to developing our young athletes, many of whom are either chalking new records or breaking old ones like Janelle Alisa Frances Lin,” said Fernandez.


Lin is a member of the Balon Dagupan Swimming Team who set three new national records in the 2016 Batang Pinoy National Championships held in Tagum City, Davao Del Norte last year. She competed in the under 12 year -old category in five swimming events, and holds the distinction as the first Dagupan athlete who broke three national records in the Batang Pinoy National Championships.


Dagupan is also set to build a Bahay Pagasa to serve as a safe sanctuary for children in conflict with the law.


“This demonstrates our strong resolve to provide care, compassion and support to vulnerable children who seek refuge from beatings and cruelty from their own families. They deserve our love and our support no less with our new Bahay Pagasa,” said Fernandez.


Women in Dagupan now have a stronger platform for participation and engagement through the SAKADA, or the Samahan ng mga Kababaehan ng Dagupan and with the creation of the Women Center, which is now in operation.


Since 2013, the city has dismantled nonstop illegal fish pens throughout Dagupan’s river system, and up to date, the Taskforce Bantay Ilog has now cleared more than 90 hectares of the rivers from 712 illegal fishing structures.


The Tondaligan Beach has received a new shot in the arm after the city finally emancipated the seashore from eyesores that have driven away potential tourists and residents from enjoying the best sunrises and sunsets in the entire Lingayen Gulf.
“After decades of abuse and neglect, plans are now underway to effect a massive Tondaligan Redevelopment Plan together with the help of our good Congressman Toff De Venecia. According to the plan, we shall be clearing the remaining obstructions of our ocean’s beautiful view, construct boardwalks, biking and jogging lanes, swimming pool, cleaner shower and restrooms, playgrounds and implement year-round events to celebrate the great bounties of the sea,” said Fernandez.


At the same time, Fernandez directed the re-installation of the city’s traffic lights with digital counters in key strategic points in the city, implemented the sidewalk recovery program as well as enforced pedestrian discipline, which was integral for the new traffic scheme to work.


The full range of measures to address traffic congestion also included the enforcement of the Comprehensive and Mandatory Traffic Code of Dagupan, which provides for new loading and unloading stations for public utility vehicles plying our streets, as well as implementation of clearing operations on illegal parking, and apprehension of barkers which have long been the front of “kotong”.


“Because of our intensified “Zero Kotong Policy”, I’m proud to report that our collection from traffic violation has tremendously increased from an average of P200,000 to a million, and that’s only for the month of January,” said Fernandez adding that the state of the city is strong because of the people’s commitment to clean and good governance, accountability, and transparency.


“With my life, I shall always hold dear my oath to always faithfully serve our people,” said Fernandez. (Joseph C. Bacani/CIO/April 4, 2017)