The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) expects the Bicol Region to become a hotbed for progress when the country federalizes.
“Bicol is a promising region that boasts of rich natural resources and potential tourist areas. If properly developed, the whole region, not just Legazpi and Naga, could skyrocket to progress,” says DILG Assistant Secretary for Communication and Public Affairs Jonathan E. Malaya
According to Malaya, federalism will give Bicol region more power and autonomy to develop other areas besides Legazpi and Naga as the centers of the region’s growth.
“The nature of Bicol’s geography has led to unequal growth. While Naga and Legazpi flourish, the other towns are left behind,” says Malaya.
He says the business sector will boom, too, generating more jobs for the people.
With more funds and power in the region, the local government will also be able to better develop the tourism industry, especially in the handling of the Bicol International Airport in Legazpi City, he adds.
The terminal’s construction, which began in January 2015, experienced several delays in completion and could have been fast tracked if the region had more power and funds to complete the construction, according to Malaya. The airport is seen to increase tourist foot traffic in the region.
He further adds that delays implementing different projects and programs will be lessened if the regional government had more power and budget instead of waiting for the national government to act on matters concerning its own region.
More resources for social services
Under federalism, local governments will also have more authority and funding to develop social services such as health and education.
Malaya says the lack of district hospitals in Camarines Sur and in far-flung provinces could be solved when the country federalizes as local governments would be able to dramatically improve their delivery of social services.
“Local governments will have more budget to buy books, chairs and tables for Bicolano children. They will also be able to provide more hospital beds and medicine for the sick,” he says.
“Bicolanos will no longer have to journey to the urban cities to get treatment,” he adds.
The cost of electricity is expected to go down under federalism as the region struggles with controlling power allocation and cost despite being rich in geothermal energy.
“With Mayon Volcano as the source of the country’s geothermal energy, the entire Bicol Region should be thriving and yet the cost of electricity in the localities is higher compared to that in Metro Manila,” says the DILG Assistant Secretary.
These issues surrounding the Bicol Region will be tackled during the DILG’s third roadshow for federalism.
The Department thus invites everyone from the region to participate in the Pederalismoserye town hall meeting with basic sectors to talk about the government’s plans for Bicolanos.
After the town hall meeting, the DILG will hold a convention / rally in which the people are encouraged to attend.
Legazpi will be the third destination of the DILG’s roadshow for federalism.
Aside from Malaya, the DILG will be bringing the Executive Director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform (IPER) Ramon Casiple, former Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Gary Olivar and Masbate’s former Governor Vicente Revil to the Pederalismoserye town hall meeting with basic sectors.
The convention / rally, on the other hand, will be graced with the presence of DILG Assistant Secretary Marjorie Jalosjos, Malacanang’s Special Assistant to the President Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, Concom Commissioners Edmund Tayao and Susan Ubalde-Ordinario, House of Representatives Renato Unico Jr. of Bicol, Joey Salceda of Albay and Luis Raymund F. Villafuerte Jr. of Camarines Sur.
Local officials in attendance will be Legazpi City Mayor Noel Rosal, Albay Province Governor Al Francis Bichara, and DILG Bicol Regional Director Elouisa T. Pastor, CESO IV.
“We are happy with our first two roadshows in Dumaguete and Baguio and hope that Legazpi will be as welcoming and receptive to the change the administration is pushing for,” says Malaya.