HON. MAYOR MARK ANDREW ARTHUR JISON GOLEZ
It is a basic tenet of democracy that government is one of the people, by the people, and for the people. On this premise is based the democratic principle that government must work for the greatest good for the greatest number.
There are outward signs that Silay City has made considerable growth over the years. But these indicators can only beg the question: Has this growth improved the lot of the great majority of Silaynons?
It is our belief that whatever growth and progress the city works for must have equitable human development as its ultimate goal, and whatever economic growth Silay makes, should be viewed from and measured on their lasting effect on the basic unit of the city's society—the Silaynon family.
After a thorough study of Silay City’s rapidly changing socio-economic profile, we have seen the need to reconfigure the traditional mode of production in order to achieve a balanced and sustainable growth ratio between the rural and urban areas. In view of this, we have drafted an 11-point agenda called the “Asenso Silay, Asenso sang Panimalay Program” designed to jumpstart the city’s development process:
1.Food Sufficiency and Security. A significant portion of the city’s resources are drained out of circulation because of the procurement of food, particularly rice, from outside sources. The program intends to reverse the situation by promoting rice sufficiency and food security projects among farmers, especially the Agrarian Reform beneficiaries. The plan seeks to allocate about one-eighth of the city’s agricultural area to the program. The program also includes a socio-cultural component to reorient farmers to shift from traditional cash crops to basic food production.
2. Livelihood Projects and Support Systems. Most of the city’s poor population comes from labor that was displaced by the decline of the sugar industry. This item in the program’s agenda seeks to provide skills and entrepreneurial training, project management structures, and financial and marketing support for micro-enterprises that will enable Silaynons to achieve a better status in life, with special focus on: food processors, fisher folks, landless workers, and slum dwellers.
3. Peace and Order. Our development program recognizes the fact that the long-term solution to criminality is the elimination of poverty. In the meantime, we intend to restore peace, order and security by declaring an all-out war against drug pushers, and their patrons and financiers who have preyed upon the poorest sectors of Silay society, endangering the very future of our youth. This war will be complemented by a rehabilitation program so drug addicts and victims are remolded to be productive members of society.
4. Business Community Participation in Policy Formulation. The retention of financial resources as an effect of our food sufficiency program should attract investments into the city. This in turn, will generate direct employment and create a market for local products. In line with this, we will encourage the creation of an organization of local businessmen, like a Silay Chamber of Commerce and Industry, so local enterprises can have a voice in the city's development planning and programs.
5. Reconfigure the Education System. There is a strong connection between education and employment. We will thus, craft an educational plan, in consultation with all stakeholders, which will include technical and vocational training programs to create a labor force equipped and ready for employment. On the other hand, we will work to establish a Silay City College and improve the facilities of existing schools like the Doña Montserrat Lopez Memorial High School. This should democratize educational opportunities and put a stop to the unscrupulous practice of officials who use scholarship grants to favor only those who cater to their political agenda.
6. Upgrade Government Facilities. Many buildings and facilities of the city government have been neglected and have become dilapidated over time. Of particular concern is the Silay City Public Market that is now unable to keep up with demands of a rapidly-growing population. Upgrading the public market would provide the marketing component for produce from the countryside. The city must immediately upgrade physical structures and improve systems in order to meet the expected strain resulting from the food sufficiency program and the employment generated by new investments.
7. Review Existing Fiscal Policies. While a rapidly-growing city benefits from changing land use, taxes derived from higher valuation of real property will not be sufficient to meet the corresponding demand for infrastructure and basic services. The primary source of revenue will thus shift to income from business enterprises. The city should strike a balance between lower fees as incentives to investment, and its bigger share in the internal revenue allocation brought about by new businesses.
8. Institute a Universal Health Care Program. A healthy and productive population is undoubtedly society’s biggest wealth. Alongside our livelihood and food sufficiency thrusts, we are drafting a universal healthcare plan for Silaynons so they are given ready access to free, quality medical and hospitalization benefits. This will be strengthened and supplemented by a barangay-based health education and disease-prevention program.
9. Shelter Development. The displaced labor of the sugar industry found subsistence refuge in the city’s foreshore areas where they have set up informal settlements. Due to severe lack of employment and livelihood opportunities among the population, these depressed communities have become havens of criminality and the illegal drug trade. Further, these informal settlements have placed a severe strain on the city’s infrastructure and basic services; especially waste management, health, and sanitation. In the pipeline is a plan to relocate informal settlers to areas where livelihood and employment components can be integrated into home and community building.
10. Environmental Conservation and Management. As a rapidly-growing city, Silay is confronted with the challenge of having to balance development efforts with the need to protect the environment and conserve its natural resources. We are currently evaluating several sites to replace our present almost filled-up sanitary landfill. However, our long-term outlook is the conversion of biodegradable waste to organic fertilizer for our agricultural programs, and the use of recyclable materials for other productive purposes, with the end view of totally eliminating the need for a landfill site. On the other hand, we are designing and implementing programs for reforestation and protection of the watershed, and the revitalization of foreshore areas and fishing grounds.
11. Key Infrastructure for Development. Any government program is not complete without an infrastructure component. Consequently, the city government is now working with national, regional, and provincial government agencies for the convergence of various irrigation and farm-to-market road projects for our rice sufficiency and food security program. On the other hand, we are presently making plans to upgrade our urban infrastructure, including sewerage and waste disposal systems, roadways, and thoroughfares, to meet the growing needs of a rapidly-growing city.
The “Asenso Silay, Asenso sang Panimalay” program is envisioned to make profound changes for the better in the lives of Silaynons.
However, our dream of a prosperous Silay cannot be realized if we continue to be a house divided. We are all Silaynons; the benefits of progress belong to each and every one of us, regardless of creed, social and economic standing, or political beliefs and affiliation.
Let us, therefore, reject discord and work together in harmony, and with the grace and guidance of the Almighty, we will bring Silay to greater heights of prosperity.