PARTNERSHIP. Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) Assistant Secretary, lawyer Hanica Rachael Arshia Ong (left), and Pangasinan Governor Ramon Guico III (2nd from left) sign a memorandum of agreement on Oct. 18, 2022 for the Pambansang Pabahay para sa Pilipino Zero Informal Settlers Family by 2028 program. It targets to address the 300,000 housing backlog in the Ilocos Region. (PNA photo by Hilda Austria) 

LINGAYEN, Pangasinan The provincial government of Pangasinan has made significant partnerships with the different national government agencies and local government units in the region to provide better services to the people as well as encourage economic activity and tourism.

The most recent convergence the province has made was the memorandum of agreement (MOA) signed with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for the interim management of the foreshore area for salt production.

In a statement issued on Thursday, the Pangasinan Provincial Information Office (PIO) said the salt production sharing agreement aims to provide continuity of operations to the salt industry, gives security of tenure to the more or less 400 displaced salt workers within the aforementioned area with necessary services, technology, and financing to be furnished by the local government unit (LGU) of Bolinao town.

The salt farm area for the project is about 473.88 hectares of foreshore land situated in Barangay Zaragoza, Bolinao.

“It serves as an avenue to prepare for the looming salt shortage at the end of the year as local production does not cover domestic demand per the previous announcement of the Department of Agriculture (DA). The government share shall be computed based on a formula per DENR Administrative Order No. 98-67, otherwise known as “Guidelines for the Identification and Award of Areas Suitable of Salt Production,” it added.

Governor Ramon Guico III, in a recent press conference, said the project supports President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s mandate for food sustainability in the country as the salt has many uses and its industry could create more jobs.

In the recent National Salt Congress held in Pangasinan on Nov. 26 to 27, it was stated that the revitalization of the salt industry would create 100,000 green jobs for the agricultural sector and 50,000 jobs for exportable salt.

It could also generate PHP4.25 billion in local revenues all over the country.

The salt congress was where different national government agencies, LGUs, salt farmers, and manufacturers in the country gathered together to determine the status of the salt industry, identify the problems, and come up together with a solution.

It was revealed in the event that 97 percent of the country’s salt requirement was being imported despite the fact that the country is an archipelago surrounded by waters and that there was no specific agency assigned to the industry.

The internal rules and regulations for the MOA are underway.

Meanwhile, Guico emphasized the importance of convergence thus offices such as the Provincial Economic Development and Investment Promotion, Provincial Hospital Management Services, and Baywalk Development and Management were created, while the Provincial Volunteers Office is underway.

He said the Provincial Hospital Management Services Office was established to simplify the operation and management of the 14 hospitals run by the province, including maximum utilization of available resources.

The Baywalk Development and Management Office, Guico said, would regulate tourism activity within the bay walk area in Lingayen and Binmaley towns.

“This is also to regulate the construction of infrastructures there and to ensure they adhere to existing ordinances and building codes. Also, to ensure compliance to environmental laws and maintain peace and order,” he said.

Guico said the creation of the Provincial Volunteers Office, which aims to revive and strengthen the spirit of volunteerism and instill patriotism as well as nationalism, is ongoing.

A memorandum of understanding between the provincial government and the Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency (PNVSCA) was signed during the National Volunteer Month celebration.

The initiative was based on a resolution adopted by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan expressing its support of putting up a center for volunteers.

The center, which is expected to be launched next year, will primarily be the arm of the provincial government in the implementation of the Universal Health Care (UHC) Law in Pangasinan.

Guico said the provincial government and the Department of Health (DOH), through the Regional 1 Medical Center (R1MC) and the Pangasinan State University forged a partnership through a MOA for healthcare services and research, respectively.

The provincial government of Pangasinan has also initiated the planning and coordination among agencies for the proposed construction of the Pangasinan East-West Expressway.

“All of our congressmen agreed to the alignment and establishment of this very important thoroughfare. The expressway will open up the province to more growth centers, economic zones, and better mobility of people, goods, and services,” Guico said, adding it would also boost tourism.

The Department of Tourism (DOT) has launched the Marian Pilgrimage Circuit featuring the different Marian Shrines of canonically crowned images of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the four provinces of the Ilocos Region including Pangasinan.

DOT-Ilocos regional director Joseph Francisco Ortega said the Marian Pilgrimage Circuit will not only be focused on architecture but also on reliving the faith of devout Catholics. (PNA)