After expressing his gratitude for the new mandate that the Team Naga obtained during the May 2022 elections, Mayor Nelson Legacion underscored on Tuesday in his first 100 days report the list of big-ticket projects, priority programs and the action plan that his administration will implement to ensure the comprehensive development of the city and its people.
The mayor said that after taking their oath of office on June 25, this year, the team wasted no time to hammer out the city’s three- to six-year executive-legislative agenda with the department heads.
The projects and programs contained in the agenda cover the following clusters: Environment and Infrastructures, Social Services on Health, Education, Constituency Assistance, and Shelter; Economy, Institutional Development, Procurement and Finance; Public Safety, Transportation and Traffic Management.
The mayor’s report, which lasted for 52 minutes, went through with intermittent interruptions due to the applauses of more or less 36 times from the crowd.
New plan, new vision
He informed the assembly of more than 300 guests from different sectors inside the newly constructed event and multipurpose center at the Balatas New Development Area that the executive-legislative meeting has led them to come up with the new 9-year comprehensive development plan for 2022-2030, as well as the city government’s new aspirations for Naga expressed in the latest version of the Maogmang Lugar long-term vision.
Legacion said that their new vision calls for transforming Naga as a healthy city, built around people-centered development and collaborative governance.
“As I instructed the management team, we shall aim not only for the little things but more importantly for bold initiatives that would reposition Naga towards a path of faster growth and higher level development. The projects may take longer time to realize, but they shall be ready to pursue them nonetheless,” he said.
Emphasizing the city’s capability to synergize and work with various agencies of the national government as well as the private sector, the mayor expressed confidence that the challenges behind the implementation of the plan will appropriately be addressed.
“Full implementation of the plan will cost around P15.6 billion in new investments over the next 9 years, or P30.9 billion if we include the running cost of government. We will work with partners to secure the needed funding for these projects,” he said.
The development plan was approved by the Sangguniang Panlungsod on July 26, 2022 and was endorsed to the regional office of the Department of Interior and Local Government for review.
Key priority infra
Legacion, who organized the city’s Special Projects Team when he became mayor in 2019, said the group has already prepared project studies and detailed plans and costing for 10 priority road projects and 13 convergence projects jointly identified with the Department of Public Works and Highways for possible funding support by the national government.
He said that these projects will promote equitable and sustainable spatial development in the city by providing an efficient and responsive road system for easy movement of people, services, goods and information needed for citywide development.
The Special Projects Team includes new projects like
1. The San Isidro SLF-Palestina Bypass Road via Christ the King. This road-and-bridge project will connect Barangays San Isidro, Naga City (near the Sanitary Landfill area) and Palestina, Pili. It provides a much needed alternate access to the city highlands all the way to Magarao and Calabanga that bypasses the highly congested Naga-Pili boundary.
2. Pili (NGCP)-Dalipay, Milaor-Bicol Esplanade-Roxas Avenue Bypass Road. This new 9-km bypass road will connects Pili, Naga, and Milaor along the Bicol River banks and our People’s Park and Recreation Center (PPRC). This will provide travelers an opportunity to skirt the congested CBD 2, CBD 3, and Concepcion-Del Rosario area.
He said that two of the 10 priority projects already have firm funding commitments from the DPWH – the Center for Safety and Resilience (CESAR) in Barangay Balatas as well as the access road to the new PNR station in the barangays of Tabuco and Triangulo, which are getting an initial funding of P45 million each.
New biz district
The mayor also said that through the Naga City Investment Board and with the help of the United Architects of the Philippines, Camarines Sur chapter, the city has started to conduct masterplanning of the Balatas New Development Area, a major development project of the LGU that seeks to build on the momentum of Magsaysay growth area.
The city’s capital expenditures (or counterpart) to Balatas include a four-lane roadlink connecting Magsaysay and Balatas, a new 200-bed city hospital, a resilience and public safety center, urban agriculture demo farm and food park.
He said new mixed-use developments in the area will create new business and economic opportunities, jobs and livelihood for city residents and the business sector.
“We expect to formally launch the project later in this year once consultation with stakeholders, including the property owners and potential investors, are completed,” he said.
F2F Peñafrancia fiesta
On the city’s successful conduct of the in-person celebration of the Peñafrancia festivities after two years of being side-lined by Covid, Legacion said that as early as May, the city government has activated the institutional support groups that made it happen.
The triumphant celebration has reinvigorated the people’s devotion to the Peñafrancia, and promoted tourism and the downstream economic activities it generates – as evidence by the huge number of visitors that the pilgrim city welcomed.
With regard to the Bicol Riverfront area development as one of the flagship projects identified in the Green and Resilient Playbook (GRP) developed by Naga under the technical assistance project of the World Bank and League of Cities, the city mayor reported that they have touched base with DOTr and DPWH to arrange funding support for the Bicol River Esplanade and has begun the process of acquiring the 3-hectare project site.
“This project will provide access to the area, develop a new river park, and lay down ground-works for a new riverside bypass road connecting Pili, Milaor and Naga,” he said.
The centerpiece is the People’s Park and Recreation Center that will house an interactive water fountain, cafés, and a concert ground that can hold gatherings of at most 5,000 people.
He said the triumphant conduct of in-person schooling since August is attributed to the city’s successful vaccination campaign under a partnership of the City Health Office, private medical professionals, and the provincial and regional offices of the Department of Health.
“While we are optimistic that the process will reach a successful conclusion, we continue to urge Nagueños to practice the minimum public health standards and get boosted to protect ourselves from the virus that is still very much around,” he stressed.
The mayor said that the resumption of the People’s Day initiative last week at the People’s Hall ensures the city government responsiveness to its customers’ needs. He said: “The People’s Day initiative is yet another proof that we have put the pandemic behind us.”
It was in the new multipurpose center that the city mayor delivered his report. He thanked the generous funding from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) that financed the construction of the building, the second evacuation center established in Naga.
Feather on cap
The mayor shared in the gathering the confirmation received by his office from the National Innovations Council of the NEDA which said that one of the city’s four entries to the competitive 2022 Innovation Grants of the national government – the Naga City Start-up Ecosystem Development Program – made it to the list of grantees, from a total of 451 entries from national and local government agencies nationwide.
Thanking the vibrant partnership between the government and private sector, including the city’s academic partners and start-up companies, the city mayor said that the grant, which amounts to P7.5 million, will further enable the city’s start-up industry to soar to greater heights. He also congratulated Reuel Oliver of the Naga City Investment Board and his team for doing a great job.
Saying that traffic congestion brought about by the city government’s drive to return to normalcy will not go away, Legacion said that they are working with the DPWH and the LTO so that the Local Public Transport Route Plan can be approved and rationalize and upgrade local public transport.
“The plan, by the way, promotes non-motorized public transport options, like walking and biking, and the city will invest in construction and upgrading our sidewalks and pedestrian lanes, as well as expand a network of protected bike lanes,” he said.
On water supply, the mayor said that the distribution of potable water continues to be a challenge for some areas of the city. He, however, said that the city government’s close partnership with the Metro Naga Water District will enable the water firm to catch up. “It is in our best interest to help it succeed lest it fall prey to privatization that elsewhere actually led to higher bills and even more undependable service.
On power supply, the mayor said that with the uncertainties in the world market, power rates will continue to be high. “But we are confident that a multibillion-peso solar farm in Carolina will help Casureco 2 diversify its supply and allow us to tap more competitively priced renewable energy options,” he said.
In addition, the mayor said that the city is also being helped by the Department of Energy to jumpstart a city-owned our biomass project (aka waste-to-energy or WTE) using the municipal solid waste at the San Isidro SLF as feedstock. “With DOE’s technical help, we should be able to make the best decision possible from the options available to us,” he said.
The city mayor concluded his report by inspiring the crowd, saying that “some of these factors are beyond our control. Some, however, are. Rest assured that under Team Naga, we will make sure that public interest will always be paramount and our common aspirations for Maogmang Lugar will come true.”
(Jason B. Neola, CEPPIO.)