State of the City Address 2006


official_seal_of_cebu_city_small

Republic of the Philippines
City of Cebu

STATE OF THE CITY ADDRESS (2006)

Vice Mayor Michael Rama, Honorable Members of the City Council, Honored Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen:

To avoid listening to all the disturbances in Manila, I have set the agenda to let us focus here in Cebu, I do not regret that decision and I appreciate everyone’s cooperation and it’s because of that that I think we’re doing much better.

Undistracted by the problems in Manila, you are able to keep our agenda together, we’re self-sufficient now and more dynamic. It’s hard to believe that one-half of the tourists that go to the Philippines come to Cebu, one of 7,000 islands. We are now, as many of you might not have realized it, becoming the backbone of this economy.

Our city government, as we are here and immersed with our problems, we do have many problems. Our bureaucracy is a lot to be desired; we also face financial problems and we all know this is primarily caused by the delay in the titling of the South Reclamation Project. Nonetheless, our basic services, we were able to maintain. And last March, we are also able to pay our P250 Million peso of the loan amortization ahead of schedule. Now that we have secured the title to the South Reclamation Project, we are now in the process of installing basic amenities such as electricity, water, and internal road network. The Mambaling access road is operational and we have completed Phase I of the Senior Citizen’s Building. Soon to rise is the 1.4 Kilometer sand beach and baywalk. The famous POND A will also become a recreation sports park for all of us and the public of Cebu City to enjoy.

In a short, while the South Reclamation Project will become the South Road Properties. We are finalizing the list of around 20 hectares and the sale of another 20 hectares. The SRP will develop much faster than what everyone expects.

ASEAN SUMMIT
We all know this coming December, we are faced with a major challenge, a major headache, a major crisis, also a major opportunity.

The ASEAN Summit will be such a major burden to the city. But this is also a chance for us to use this as an opportunity to expose the city to the whole world. So our primary responsibility will be the international media. And that’s what we volunteered for but this is an investment because, as you know, just to buy a one-page ad in a Tokyo newspaper will consume the entire budget of some of our commissions here in the city. So for promotional purposes, we might as well take advantage of the media that is flying to Cebu and many of you will be given special assignments to develop interpersonal relationships with some 2,000 international media members coming from Japan alone, we are expecting 300 high-level media members to accompany the new, new meaning that is not yet installed, Japan will have a new Prime Minister by then, and will be accompanied by approximately 300 Japanese media. And we’ll focus on the Japanese and Korean media.

So, we are also going to do our share in the maintenance of peace and order. We are already holding dialogues, even right after this meeting, I will be conducting a dialogue with Barangay Carreta, and we have to teach them values preventive strategies to see to it that we will be able to maintain peace and order.

We are now in the process of purchasing vehicles and additional equipment and provide general assistance for the police and other security personnel. One point that I would like to interject is simply this: we have never been through a situation like this in the past so it is very difficult for us to draw up a detailed estimate of where our expenses would be. And that is why in the Supplemental Budget, I just put a lump sum to give us the maximum flexibility. Unlike other events like the Sinulog where we already have a historical data and is much easier for us to draw up a budget and anticipate the kind of expenses we will incur. But when we have so many people coming here in Cebu, I am almost sure that there will be many major items that we have overlooked that we will have to respond to overnight. The idea here is to maintain mobility, maintain a tremendous amount of flexibility in the bureaucracy and we have to be ready for any contingency that might occur including any violent contingencies.

Related to the ASEAN Summit, we are also going to be using the Gotiaco building and the city-owned condominium to be improved to accommodate hundreds of security personnel who are coming here in Cebu. In cooperation with the Cebu Port Authority, we will also be expanding Serging Osmeña Blvd. and developing the North Reclamation Area. We will also tap the private sector to help in the rehabilitation of different parks including the Fuente Osmeña.

There are many developments, and I have directed our Department Heads and Chairpersons of our various committees to immediately open their annual and semi-annual reports to the media and other stakeholders because transparency should always be a major part of this administration.

Now, let me cite some interesting developments:

REVENUES:
Our revenues increased by 13% compared to the same period last year. The 13% is a consolation, but not enough. I have given the directive that I issued in the last year’s state of the city address that we need to run after those who did not pay their tax obligations. And I am very, very forceful about this because it is not fair to put the burden on revenues on those who want to pay and those who don’t want to pay will get away with it. So, for the first time in history, the Cebu Port Authority, for example, they finally paid and compromised settlement of 120 Million Pesos. But there is still a number who are not paying. I directed the City Treasurer’s Office to hasten its clean-up of records, simplify procedures, and intensify collections.

Interesting enough, our abattoir has increased its revenues as well as our markets. And I am really personally surprised that Pardo Market qualified for a 500,000 prize for being one of the Five Most Outstanding Markets in the Country. The Ramos Market has partially reopened and is expected to fully reopen this month. There is also a marked improvement in our abattoir and the Taboan Market. But we still have a long way to go but I think I am satisfied with the progress that’s been made in these areas.

HEALTH
There is a significant reduction in our Mortality Rate. In 2001, when I came back as Mayor, our rate then was 17.55 but is lowered down to 6.96 in the year 2005. Major health problems identified are addressed through preventive strategies, such as immunization. 91% of children below 1 year old are fully immunized, 91.4% of live births are within normal birth rate. Our contingency programs against dengue, SARS, and Bird Flu are very much in place. As a matter of fact, we may be the only city who is capable of handling the SARS problems all over the Philippines. Even our problematic Cebu City Medical Center had a total admission of 11,962 patients and attended to 44,603 underprivileged individuals in 2005.

EDUCATION
Our three-year program to improve the quality of public education, because this is one area that we found out last year that, not only Cebu but the entire Philippines, is way, way behind. So we have put very special emphasis on this. So the quality of our education is improved. Now in its second year, we managed to re-train 70% of our teaching force in collaboration with the University of the Philippines-Cebu, the Grade 1 and 2 teachers have been trained on new concepts of teaching our children reading and comprehension skills called literacy-numeracy. Aside from this, we have set out to improve our teachers’ command of the English language. Just this summer, we sent almost all of our teachers to English enhancement seminars.

This school year, we have managed to bring down to 40 student to classroom ratio of seven of our largest high schools in the city. This is in preparation to eventually converting them to science high schools.

In 2006, the School Board with the City’s support will be spending P140 million pesos in the new school building construction. This is in addition to another P40 Million pesos on classroom repairs.

ENVIRONMENT
But perhaps the most surprising development is in the environment. We are becoming a green city. Our composting and waste recovery programs in a number of barangays continue to gather visitors from within and even outside the Philippines. Our CESET program was recently awarded by DENR for mobilizing the participation of communities in enforcing environmental laws. There is a marked improvement in our garbage collection.

It is also interesting to note that starting August, our pilot project in Inayawan will begin to produce cheap electricity from garbage. The electricity produced will be around 2.80 pesos per kilowatt hour, around 40 percent of what we currently pay for our electricity today. That is 60% discount compared to commercial rate.

More interesting is that before the end of this year, we hope to install a very innovative air-conditioning system, of which the innovation that they will do in city hall will be the first model of its kind in the Philippines. What is going to happen here is that we will be harnessing the waste heat of the power plant in Ermita to power our air-conditioning for the city hall. We will be using the latest application of the Lithium Bromide technology. To put in simple terms, the cost of our air-conditioning will be reduced from P2,400 per hour in City Hall to less than P500 per hour. That is 80% savings in our air-conditioning cost.

CONCLUSION
Despite all the problems, Cebu City is moving forward. Like the proverbial old man and his mountain, we must all continue to help flatten the mountain. Make it useful for everyone. Little by little, much sooner than later, we will reach our dream of making Cebu City the MOST LIVABLE CITY IN ASIA.

In closing, let me reaffirm my often-repeated statement that Cebu City is not just the Mayor, Cebu City is all of us. Each of us must do our share.

We thank the Senior Sto. Niño and Our Lady of Guadalupe. We also leave room for our Muslim and other brothers who also have made very important roles in making our community work together.

Thank you very much.
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State of the City Address (2006)
Mayor Tomas R. Osmeña
(07/03/2006)

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