INFRA BOOST. File photo shows Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Secretary Michael Lloyd Dino shaking hands with President Rodrigo Duterte. Dino on Tuesday (July 27, 2021) lauded the Chief Executive for the "golden age of infrastructure" ushered in by the Duterte administration, which greatly benefited the three regions in the Visayas. (File photo courtesy of OPAV)

CEBU CITY – President Rodrigo Duterte’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday has renewed the hope of the Filipino people for a better and brighter future as he ushered a "golden age of infrastructure", the presidential assistant for the Visayas said on Tuesday.

Secretary Michael Lloyd Dino said the President has transformed the three central Philippine regions as he balanced the Build, Build, Build’s civil work initiatives with social development and programs designed to solve various maladies such as proliferation of illegal drugs, corruption, and insurgency.

“As part of the Philippines’ golden age of infrastructure, the Visayas has been a recipient of major flagship and development projects that will further pave the way for its metro cities, tourism destinations and IT (information technology) hubs to be an economic stronghold,” Dino said in a statement.

He said world-class masterpieces such as the Mactan-Cebu International Airport Terminal 2, Panglao-Bohol International Airport, development of Siquijor, Dumaguete, Santa Fe-Bantayan, and Calbayog airports, and the soon-to-be-completed Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway are some of the notable projects.

He noted that the 29,264 kilometers of roads completed through the Build, Build, Build program, along with 451 seaport and 214 airport projects completed as of June this year, have benefited the agriculture, tourism, commerce and other sectors.

Addressing insurgency issues

Dino also said Visayas officials support the President’s will to crash insurgency in the countryside through actions over decade-old maladies in social imbalance in terms of social development programs.

The President’s whole-of-nation approach in directly dealing with the communities affected by the existence of Maoist teachings of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) has the concurrence of town and village officials in Samar, Negros island provinces and Bohol, he noted.

He also said Duterte’s signing of Executive Order (EO) No. 70 has changed the course of the country’s fight against the CPP-NPAs, involving all agencies of government in finding solutions to problems directly felt by the village folks.

“As the Cabinet Officer for Regional Peace and Development for Central Visayas (CORDS), I have also witnessed firsthand our peace and development efforts through the Regional Task Force 7 on Ending Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTF 7 ELCAC) by way of basic services, former rebel reintegration and amnesty programs, and sectoral unification efforts,” Dino said.

He reported that over PHP6 million worth of assistance has been given to a total of 128 former rebels through the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP).

For 2022, the RTF-ELCAC-7 endorsed 86 barangays in Region 7 for inclusion in the Barangay Development Program (BDP) where each barangay will get a fund of PHP20 million each for their locally-identified programs, activities and projects.

“This administration really takes peace efforts seriously as its way of paving sustainable growth and development,” Dino said.

Social and economic developments

In the Central Visayas region alone, a total of 32,014 individuals were given a total of PHP113.24 million through the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s Social Amelioration Program (SAP).

Since the start of the Duterte administration, a total of 229,289 hectares of land has been distributed to poor and deserving farmers for agriculture through the issuance of EO 75, identifying lands owned by the government devoted to or suitable for agriculture for distribution to qualified beneficiaries.

Dino said more than 2,245 farmer-beneficiaries in the Visayas were granted land ownership totaling over 3,000 hectares, along with millions of pesos worth of support services projects.

These were made possible by the implementation of the President’s EO 70 instituting a whole-of-nation approach on ending local communist armed conflict (ELCAC program), he said.

“When he signed RA 10931 or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act, some 1,623,628 students were able to avail free college tuition and other school fees. With this, more students will be enjoying free, quality tertiary education as a right and no longer a privilege like before in the coming years,” he said.

Dino also lauded Duterte’s effort to eradicate bureaucratic red tape through Republic Act (RA) 11032 or the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act.

The law, he said, has expanded the powers of the Anti-Red Tape Authority, thereby streamlining basic government services and processes, minimizing the bureaucratic red tape that has painfully caused inconvenience to the transacting public in the previous years.

Also, the passage of RA 11223 or the Universal Health Care Act has paved the way for the healthcare coverage of 109,035,343 Filipinos.

“This is timely since the country, as with the rest of the world, is now in the midst of a global health emergency. Even before the Universal Health Care Act was enacted, through the efforts of Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, the nationwide rollout of Malasakit Centers was well underway,” he said.

There are currently 130 Malasakit Centers across the country, 26 of which are in the Visayas, where some 2 million individuals were already assisted. (PNA)