Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto has vowed to sustain unpoliticized and principled public service to his constituents.
Speaking at the 447th founding anniversary of the city on Thursday night, Sotto reported the city’s progress, improvement, and gains of the local government during the first year of his administration.
“There are many programs, many projects have been implemented during the year but we should not forget those principles and what we are upholding,” Sotto said in Filipino during a virtual State of the City Address.
Sotto said the universal healthcare program (UHC) for residents is the top priority of his administration.
“We are laying the groundwork for the full implementation of the universal healthcare and the universal healthcare program which is also aligned with the national government’s program,” he said.
This year, the local government has allotted 21 percent of the annual budget for the healthcare services, strengthening health human resources and rationalization of the Pasig City Health Department.
The city government has also hired 1,488 personnel in plantilla positions for the healthcare department.
Sotto said this is to ensure UHC programs are properly implemented in the city.
Sotto assured the public that the hospitals in the city are not just income-driven but also providing service.
The city government has allocated funds for the PhilHealth Insurance program of the city, he said.
Housing program, quality education
Sotto, meanwhile, vowed to provide socialized housing units with quality and accessible to public needs.
“This is the result of the people’s plan, in partnership with a lot of people and various organizations along with the national government agencies,” he said, adding they will ensure the safe relocation of the residents living in the floodway areas and get financial assistance.
Sotto said the city government has also allocated PHP350 million to sustain the education system in the city.
“For the repair of our 44 schools and school buildings, we have allocated PHP350 million, halos lahat po nito ay tapos na (almost all of these are already done),” Sotto said.
Sotto, however, said he is saddened that students will not be able to see and use these facilities as face-to-face classes remain prohibited due to the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.
He lauded the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Pasig (PLP) for aiming to raise the standard of tertiary education in the city.
The university would admit 1,000 students this coming school year.
A total of 16, 000 students are now enjoying the benefits of the Pasig City scholarship program, he said, this program ensures the residents to have better opportunities on education services.
Sotto said while the Division of City Schools-Pasig will adopt a “distance learning modality” for this school year, the local government would continue to provide educational materials for the students.
“We will help the Department of Education, our students, and their families by providing 138, 000 learning pockets, tablets or laptops depending on the students’ needs,” he said.
The local government will provide 3,500 tablets to the PLP enrollees, Sotto said.
“We need to make sure that the students’ learning will not be deferred,” he said.
Sotto vowed full support to education services during the health crisis.
“I know the next school year is going to be difficult but just enroll yourself in school and we will help you,” he said.
Sotto earlier said the Pasig government has raised PHP1.2 billion to provide tablets, laptops, and computers to its students enrolled in public elementary, junior and senior high school, and their teachers.
Sotto assured the government under his watch, will continue to provide basic services to the residents without being politicized.
“A continuous public service for those who are in need without being politicized. The services we would like to extend are those services that will last–those services that will uplift the lives of the citizens, that’s empowerment,” he said.
The city government is also providing assistance to more than 80,000 registered senior citizens and more than 5,000 persons with disabilities in Pasig, which includes hospitalization, burial assistance, social pension, cash gift (pamaskong handog), centenarian and hospice, Sotto said.
For the first time, he said, persons with disabilities have received a ‘Christmas bonus”—cash grant amounting to PHP1,500 while senior citizens will continue to receive cash incentives amounting to PHP3,000.
The distribution system of cash grants has also been corrected to enable faster processing, he said.
The city government has also launched the Social Welfare Assistance Center (SWAC) which provides medical, financial/burial, hospital assistance, and Project Damayan to the Pasig residents.
A new system of the Pamaskong Handog or Christmas incentives was launched during Sotto’s administration wherein food packs and other items are delivered house-to-house directly to the residents.
The provision of house-to-house incentives has become strategically useful in the data-driven decision-making during these trying times, Sotto said.
“The system that we introduced through pamaskong handog has helped us in collecting data and other information about Pasigueño families. These have been useful during our pandemic response,” Sotto said.
“This is a stand against patronage politics and a stand for good and fair governance that does not look of any political color or affiliation,” he added.
Sotto has pushed prudent transparency in the local government processes and other procurement activities in Pasig.
The intensive planning of programs and projects, he said, has helped the city to save a lot from the local government funds and has able to provide supplemental budget needed during the coronavirus health crisis.
“We also aim to improve our ease of doing business, we have partnered with institutions and other government agencies including the Anti-Red Tape Authority in developing the electronic business one-stop-shop,” Sotto said. “We are constantly improving the business-friendly environment of our city, streamlining the permit processing, changes in zoning, and assessment upholding the Anti-Red Tape Act.”
Sotto also announced the TAPAT program which will help the residents and local government to recover its economic activities affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
Sotto thanked the medical front-liners, volunteers, security forces, private sectors, and other national government agencies for providing services to Pasig residents amid the coronavirus pandemic.
For the last three months, the Pasig government has received in-kind donations amounting to not less than PHP30 million which include protective gears, medicine, food packs, and among others.
“We adopted a holistic approach in our response to Covid-19–to this pandemic, medical, socio-economic, even looking out for the mental health of our front-liners,” he said.
Through Executive Order 16, the city government has established the medical management and control of the coronavirus.
Pasig has also created a local task force and an incident management team actively coordinating with the Department of Health (DOH), national government agencies and offices within the city, to contain the spread of Covid-19.
“We initiated a partnership with the national government agencies, with the private sectors, and medical facilities to ensure that all of our efforts and resources ill be channeled properly and efficiently in our response to this medical emergency,” he said.
Pasig ensures that the health centers are fully functional and the super health centers are operating 24/7 for the residents needed medical attention on Covid-19.
Various quarantine facilities have been established to house patients with confirmed Covid-19 cases, Sotto said.
“In our first few weeks under the enhanced community quarantine, both hospitals are reporting admission of Covid-19 cases and the situation, to be honest, was becoming quite alarming with the growing number of health front-liners being affected, as well as limited supplies of equipment and protective gears,” he added.
The local government has converted the Pasig City Children Hospital into the city’s Covid-19 referral facility.
“This helps us to reduce the risk of cross-contamination, this helps us to minimize or at least lessen the use of PPE and it allowed the Pasig City General Hospital to resume normal operations,” he said.
Pasig has strengthened its Covid-19 testing capacity, contract tracing capabilities, and medical management.
Sotto said the Pasig City Molecular Laboratory is set to be operational and functional which will hasten the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and the rapid antibody testing to high-risk sectors and symptomatic patients from the healthcare centers.
Sotto reminded the local government officials to embrace good governance and avoid corrupt practices.
“If you do not cooperate with the change, you do not embrace the principle of good governance–you are fighting an entire generation of Pasigueño who are already fed up with the old habits,” he said.
Sotto then vowed to continue the change his administration has started.
“We must continue to show that here in Pasig we have new leadership, here in Pasig abandoning old habits–those old habits that we know are not right, here in Pasig we embrace good governance because here in Pasig, hope flows,” Sotto said. (PNA)