Gov. Imee holds her SOPA 2016

In her seventh State of the Province Address (SOPA) held October 28, 2016 at the Centennial Arena in Laoag City, Governor Imee Marcos set a vision in making Ilocos Norte a livable, sustainable and resilient province.

About 7,000 Ilocanos from all over the province attended the event, which presented an all-new format: speakers from various sectors of the society delivered reports followed by an open forum.

Governor Marcos delivered a speech which was also followed by questions through an audio-visual presentation.

Recalling the provincial slogan launched in 2010, Pasingkedan ti Kinatan-ok ni Ilocano! (Reaffirm Ilocano Greatness), Governor Marcos said “(it) is not just a slogan but a deep and abiding conviction that our province is the most livable, sustainable and, still, the most resilient place to live in.”

Governor Marcos said the province’s livability, which is the first pillar of development, requires people’s access to basic human needs such as food, shelter, clothing, and mobility.

The growth in transportation was felt in the province since the provincial government launched Metro Ilocos Norte Council which organized operators of public utility vehicles. The program provided affordable gasoline and access to life insurance and PhilHeath benefits.

Recently, the provincial government launched the Sirib shuttle bus granting 50% discount fare to students.

“We must work towards car-light city centers so those who live and work in Metro Ilocos…will no longer require cars to get around. In the next few years car sharing, taxis, electric cars and bicycles for public-use should become options.”

Governor Marcos also vowed support to the health sector by providing free maintenance medicines to senior citizens and upgrading the provincial hospitals. The provincial government will also seek to grant stipend to senior citizens.

In terms of enriching language and culture, “creative place-making” spaces will also be developed. Governor Marcos said there are three spaces that constitute such: home, workplace and public spaces such as plazas, beaches, terminals, and restaurants wherein “we congregate and form social capital, binding friendships and volunteer associations.”

The second pillar of development, Governor Imee Marcos said, is sustainability of environment and economy.

Environmental sustainability is strengthened through the “Green Wall of Ilocos Norte” with already 150,000 trees planted around the province. By year 2020, the provincial government aims to increase the number by up to 400%.

“City centers too can support biodiversity. The City of Batac plans to become ‘park city’ by developing MMSU lagoon, Aglipay Park, Marcos Park, Ricarte Park and various eco-parks.”

On sustaining the province’s economy, Governor Imee Marcos said, creation of jobs is a necessity to support every Ilocano family’s needs.

She mentioned the entry of two business processing outsourcing companies which opened employment opportunities to hundreds of young professionals.

“Tourism continues to drive employment, as we develop new destinations,” Governor Marcos added, with the opening of new attractions such as Taoid museum, BalaiDingras, Paoay Convent Ruins, and Burgos light house.

In order to ensure sustainability, the provincial government will seek to provide free college education.

“Free college is possible and all poor but deserving students can graduate! Sasagutin ng probinsya at (Mariano Marcos State University) ang matrikulang mahigit kumulang P30 million na binabayaran ng mga mag-aaral ngayon,” vowed Governor Marcos.

In addition, 300 students who were affected by the recent typhoon ‘Lawin’ were given P5,000 financial assistance for the upcoming semester.

The provincial government will also spearhead retrofitting of infrastructure in order to ensure infrastructure sustainability.

“We shall be retrofitting old provincial and government buildings so they will be sustainable and efficient. We are aggregating power usage of public buildings to rationalize and save energy, and finally exploit our provincial renewable sources.”

The third pillar of development, resiliency, also needs to be strengthened by implementing early evacuation and recovery system such as cash- and food-for-work.

Governor Marcos announced that a centralized emergency hotline 911 will be launched this November.

“Lahat tayo kailangan magkaroon nang  911 Hotline, na ang reresponde tulad sa Davao ay ang pulis, firetruck at ambulansya.”

The program ended with distribution of P5,000 educational assistance, livestock, sacks of rice and fertilizer and other assistance to Ilocanos who were severely affected by recent typhoon ‘Lawin.’

“With our deep reserves of social capital and team-puyog (unity), I am confident that together Ilocos Norte will prevail over the wreckage and destruction of typhoon ‘Lawin.’ With faith and prayer, with our native strength, we will endure these most difficult times,” Governor Marcos highlighted.

Ending her twenty six-minute speech, Governor Marcos said, “intay ipagtangsit iti probinsiya tayo—makaay-ayo a pagnaedan, agnanayon a panagdur-as ken natibker nga ili, naandor a puli.” (Let us be proud of our province—a livable home, sustainable progress and strong province, and resilient citizens.)—(Jennifer T. Pambid, PGIN-CMO)