PLAZA REHAB. Iloilo City Mayor Jerry P. Treñas (center) inspects the ongoing rehabilitation of the Plaza Libertad in front of the Iloilo City Hall on Dec. 21, 2021. The rehabilitation of the plaza is one of the projects that were launched by the city government this year to create jobs amid the health pandemic. (Photo courtesy of Arnold Almacen/Iloilo City Mayor’s Office)

ILOILO CITY – The construction of various infrastructure facilities in this regional hub of Western Visayas (Region 6) has highlighted the accomplishments of the administration of this highly urbanized city (HUC) amid the threat and uncertainties due to the health crisis.

The big projects helped pump up prime the region’s economy by providing jobs, opening more avenues for investments, and creating more tourist destinations.

In an interview on Friday, Iloilo City Mayor Jerry P. Treñas said the projects included the rehabilitation of various plazas, the establishment of the Iloilo City Action and Response (ICARE) command center, and setting up of dialysis and world-class daycare centers.

ICARE is a command center for security, traffic, and emergency response and its state-of-the-art five-story facility inside the 375-square meter area of the Iloilo City Center in Mandurriao district is nearing completion.

The project underscores that the local government gives priority to serving the residents over the safety of its workers despite the health challenges brought about by the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

Its satellite center in Barangay Calumpang, Molo is already operational while there is an ongoing construction of a similar facility in Barangay Ungka in Jaro.

Additional satellite centers will be established in Barangays Nabitasan, La Paz; Sooc, Arevalo; Tanza Esperanza, City Proper and Balantang and Balabago in Jaro and at the Iloilo Business Park in Mandurriao district.

The ICARE will house under one roof all emergency responders namely the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CDRRMO), Public Safety and Transportation Management Office (PSTMO), and the offices of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP).

Rehabilitations, new constructions

The year also saw Iloilo City carries out infrastructure projects not only for beautification but also to boost livelihood and answer to the medical needs of its residents.

The Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Center of the Philippines has been tapped by the city for the rehabilitation of its slaughterhouse and the central and terminal markets with an indicative cost of PHP139.35 million and PHP3.6 billion, respectively.

The improvement of the slaughterhouse in Barangay Tacas, Jaro aims to better its production capacity to at least 500 animal heads a day and achieve a Double A accreditation from the National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) so its meat can be transported outside the city.

On the other hand, the rehabilitation of the two markets will benefit over 2,000 vendors.

In terms of plaza rehabilitation, the PHP19.7 million development of the historical Plaza Libertad kicked off in February funded from the 2019 Local Government Support Fund Assistance to City.

The PHP15-million development project inside the La Paz plaza is consisted of the rehabilitation of the existing lagoon and transforming it into a 4, 850-square meter Blue Koi Lagoon and the establishment of the 2,510-square meter Butterfly Garden to be funded by the Global Business Power Corporation (GBP).

The Jaro Belfry Tower and bandstand at the Jaro district plaza are also up for some refurbishments with the support of the National Historical Commission.

Both the Jaro Plaza Complex and the Plaza Libertad Complex are considered heritage and tourist spots as per Republic Act 10555 or the Heritage Law authored by Treñas when he was still a House legislator in 2013.

The local government has also started the construction of the PHP246.89 million eight-story legislative building with multi-level parking from its general fund in 2017 and 2019.

It also partnered with the SM Development Corporation for the construction of the PHP217 million low-rise housing project for city hall employees at the local government-owned lot in Barangay San Isidro, Jaro Uswag Subdivision.

Last December 22, Iloilo City gave its people an early Christmas gift by opening its first Dialysis Center in Barangay East Baluate, Molo district with three available machines with free services to the city’s indigent patients.

A bigger center with 14 dialysis stations is still under construction in San Isidro, Jaro.

Uswag Iloilo City Hospital

“While I’ve been very excited about the other projects, I think the project that really excites me is the hospital because ultimately the city should be able to take care of its own. We will already start the process of constructing the 200 beds city hospital to be known as the Uswag Iloilo City Hospital,” the mayor said.

The Department of Health (DOH) has already issued the city government with a Certificate of Need (CON) for the construction of the hospital while House Bill 10464 calling for the establishment of the Iloilo City Hospital and authored by Rep.Julienne Baronda (Lone District of Iloilo City) was approved on third and final reading in Congress. (PNA)