ILOILO CITY -- As Iloilo’s provincial government is preparing to welcome the year 2020, it did not fail to recognize its feat in tackling the major challenges it faced in the passing year, particularly the dengue outbreak and the fall in palay prices.
Upon his assumption into office last July, Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Jr. was immediately confronted with the rising cases of dengue in the province, which lasted for months.
In a press conference last December 19, Defensor noted that dengue was “the number one calamity that confronted the province” this year.
With 4,306 dengue cases, including 20 deaths, from January 1 to June 29, or 777 percent higher than the 439 cases in the province during the same period in 2018, Iloilo declared a dengue outbreak on July 5.
The provincial government, through the Hospital Management Office and the Provincial Health Office, took control in managing the outbreak.
The 11 district hospitals and one provincial hospital in Iloilo operated with 165 doctors and 696 nurses, extending free services and necessary assistance to all patients of dengue fever cases, Defensor said.
The private sector poured in donations of folding beds and other hospital supplies, such as intravenous fluid, to help those admitted to the district hospitals.
The provincial government, with the support of the Philippine Red Cross and other national government agencies, also conducted blood donation drives to support the dengue patients’ need for blood.
Dr. Maria Socorro Colmenares-Quiñon, provincial health officer, said the dengue outbreak has shown the Ilonggos’ concern for their fellowmen.
“Ilonggos became proactive and think that it is always better to give than to receive,” Quiñon said.
Defensor, meanwhile, thanked media practitioners for their help in making the public understand the importance of keeping their surroundings clean to get rid of the mosquitoes that carry the dengue virus.
Until now, villages in the province continue to support the "Do Day Kontra Dengue Drive" that was established through an executive order released by the governor upon the declaration of the outbreak.
Fall in palay prices
While the rising number of dengue cases became worrisome, another challenge that beset the province was the diving prices of palay.
Last October, the provincial government set aside PHP100 million for a loan aid program to farmer cooperatives to help the small farmers affected by the Rice Tariffication Law.
Twelve farmer cooperatives accessed the loan aid program, which carries a 2-percent interest.
“It was a good program, our palay buying program, that we set aside PHP100 million that we can loan to accredited cooperatives, which will buy palay from our farmers who have no access to the NFA (National Food Authority),” Defensor said.
The provincial government also coordinated with the NFA to bring its palay buying program to Iloilo towns.
This is to bring the assistance of the government closer to the province’s 114,000 farmers, 7,953 of whom are small farmers.
The dengue outbreak and the low palay prices, among other challenges, have prepared the provincial government for any test in the coming year.
For 2020, Defensor is looking forward to developmental projects that would enter the province.
He said that in his first six months in office, the provincial government has planned the direction of the province.
“Our good direction is we are opening our partnership with the private sector. We are implementing our Public-Private Partnership ordinance because that is the only way we can draw in capital,” he said. (PNA)