2013 STATE OF THE PROVINCE ADDRESS
LINGAYEN—After keeping silent on the recent charges hurled against him, Governor Amado Espino Jr. spoke forcefully in his State of the Province Address (SOPA) last February 18, denouncing his detractors whom he accused of deliberately “delaying government projects with their selfish agenda.”
Espino said his political enemies have already succeeded in delaying the construction of a golf course for over a year now and drove away serious investors.
“These investors could have created hundreds of jobs for residents, not to mention the huge revenues that could be earned from the operation of the planned tourism facilities,” the governor said.
The golf course, to be located here at the capital town, is designed to be a world-class facility which will be part of the economic-tourism zone.
Espino cited how some investors for the Aqua City, the ship repair facility, and other potential industries and support services, including hotel and housing development, were turned off by the delay caused by “crab-mentality pollitics.”
“Our detractors, obsessed with their own personal agenda, and armed with devious designs, have sought to undermine our modest gains, and are spreading lies to make it appear that some of our projects are tainted with irregularities,” Espino told his audience.
He said the Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on Jan. 2, 2013 for this project was as a clear vindication of the provincial government’s plans .
“This (ECC) proves that the project has always been above-board and is perfectly legitimate, contrary to the charge of detractors,” he said.
The governor, who is running for a third and last term in the May elections, vowed to sustain the effort to attract more investments and business locators to the province.
At the same time, Espino underscored his administration’s accomplishments, citing the new image of Pangasinan from “being just a non-entity some few years ago to attain its status as the best performing province in Region 1, and among the top performing provinces in the country today”.
“Today, Pangasinan is widely known not just for its inherent political value as a vote-rich province, but more importantly as a consistent top performer in local governance, as a leading tourist destination, and favorite venue for big conventions, conferences, sports and of other national and international events,” Espino said.
This is evidenced, he said, from the long list of national and regional awards received by the province since 2008.
Espino said “with the support of Pangasinenses, he will not rest until the province fulfills its mission to become number one throughout the country.”
Aside from enumerating the awards and citations earned by the province under his administration, Espino also announced that Pangasinan, along with Leyte, has been chosen by the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) as pilot sites for its Project “Suyod”.
Project “Suyod” is an ambitious survey to capture all PhilHealth-eligible families in the country.
The result of the survey, which will start this month, will serve as basis in formulating an effective mechanism for achieving universal health coverage in the entire country.
Records show that since 2008, Pangasinan has consistently enrolled the highest number of indigent families in the PhilHealth-sponsored program nationwide.
Espino also cited records indicating the significant improvement in tourism arrivals with 661,767 in 2012, the highest among all provinces in Region 1, compared to only 55,600 in 2007.
“These facts clearly disprove and belie the irresponsible and obviously unfounded pronouncement that Pangasinan is a potential hotspot,” the governor said.
“If, indeed, we are a hotspot, we would not be enjoying this increasing number of visitors and tourists, and the numerous big events continually taking place, and still being booked in Pangasinan,” he added.
On the local economy, Espino said the domestic inflation rate of 1.20 is lower than the country’s 3.60, and the peso purchasing power in Pangasinan of 0.82 is higher than the national average of 0.76.
“We have already reached this far, we have achieved these marvelous gains in just five and a half years, because we have been united, and moved forward as one people towards the attainment of our common goals,” Espino said.