PNA Bacolod file photo

BACOLOD CITY – Still battling the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic after almost two years, this city remains cautious but finds reason to celebrate the year 2021 with some victories leading towards the health and economic recovery of Bacolodnons.

Mayor Evelio Leonardia said the past year showed the city government the reality of “doing everything to balance health and economy.”

“Another year is about to close and this marks the second consecutive year that we had to grapple with the pandemic. I would dare to say that we had a better year in terms of our preparedness to deal with this health problem,” he added.

However, with the recent rise in global cases, Leonardia urged Bacolodnons to remain vigilant.

“This new round of challenge should serve as an eye-opener. We cannot remain complacent and behave like the pandemic is over. On the contrary, it’s just around the corner,” the mayor said in a statement on Friday.

High Covid-19 vaccination rate

As of December 28, some 383,307 city residents are already fully vaccinated against Covid-19, the figures of the Emergency Operations Center Task Force showed.

The number is equivalent to 93.33 percent of the targeted population of 410,701.

Based on the Department of Health (DOH) situation report, a total of 427,320 residents, which is 4.05 percent more than the target vaccinees, have received at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine.

On December 30, Bacolod recorded four new cases, bringing its current active cases to 153, according to the data of DOH-Western Visayas.

Meanwhile, the City of Bacolod also mourned the death of Councilor Elmer Sy, who was infected by Covid-19, in June.

Sy had served as a member of the City Council for several terms until his demise.

Leonardia confirmed that the councilor had contracted Covid-19.

“(W)e take note that Councilor Elmer was a Covid-19 victim and we should be reminded how dangerous our times are,” he said.

Establishment of Bacolod City General Hospital

On June 24, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte signed into law Republic Act (RA) 11564 for the establishment and funding of the Bacolod City General Hospital.

“Finally, our dream of having our own hospital in Bacolod City will soon be realized,” said Lone District Rep. Greg Gasataya, who authored the bill in the House of Representatives.

RA 11564 was among the 16 legislative bills included during a ceremonial signing held at the Rizal Hall in Malacañan Palace.

The city hospital, expected to be constructed in 2022 with national government funding, will rise inside the proposed medical complex in Barangay Vista Alegre, where a 3.5-hectare land will be donated by the Gensoli family for the purpose.

Most business-friendly LGU

In November, Bacolod bagged the 2021 Most Business-Friendly Local Government Unit (LGU) Award under the category of highly-urbanized cities outside the National Capital Region in the search organized by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

This is the second time Bacolod, the capital city of Negros Occidental, won the top honors after clinching the same award in 2007.

In its category, Bacolod bested 10 other finalists, including Angeles, Baguio, Cagayan de Oro, Davao, General Santos City, Iloilo, Lapu-Lapu, Mandaue, Olongapo and Zamboanga.

Leonardia said that after receiving its second Most Business-Friendly LGU Award, he believes the city will be catapulted to even greater heights.

“Once we surmount this pandemic, once we are over the hump so to speak, Bacolod will be back on track and Bacolod will again accelerate,” he added.

‘Balay Silangan’ unveiled

As part of its campaign against illegal drugs, the city government unveiled the Balay Silangan reformation center in July in coordination with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).

The PHP5-million two-story facility, located adjacent to the Bacolod City Police Office compound on Lacson Extension in Barangay Singcang-Airport, is expected to accommodate some 30 drug offenders.

Although the Bacolod facility is the 40th inaugurated in Western Visayas, it was then identified by PDEA as the pilot site in 2018, supposedly the first in the Visayas and the second in the country. (PNA)