By Jessica M. Bacud
TUGUEGARAO CITY, Cagayan – Governor Manuel N. Mamba has rallied provincial government leaders “to strive to strengthen the nexus of transformational direction” for the province of Cagayan “to be the international gateway to East Asia and the Pacific.”
Mamba noted the most crucial of the problems that beset the Provincial Government was “the absence of an inspiring and genuine leadership — one of integrity, competence, accountability, consistency, selflessness, and decisiveness.”
“When I first took my oath as Governor exactly 6 years ago, I was prepared to make the hard choices. I armed myself with my development plan, the Cagayan Development Agenda 2025 (CAGANDA 2025), a handful of staff, and the resolve to succeed,” Mamba said during his inauguration at the Cagayan Sports Coliseum on June 30.
This was a “remarkable statement of conviction and drive of Governor Manuel N. Mamba in front of elected and reelected officials and the people of Cagayan,” supporters led by his wife, Atty. Mabel and children, his brothers Mayor William and Vice Mayor Francisco Jr. and sister SB Marcy, Carol Josephine, family, and friends, said.
“I intend to do more because Cagayan deserves more! It is more than welfare assistance and ayuda. The Cagayano deserves a decent income from a decent source of income, one that can comfortably sustain his family,” he cited.
Mamba called on his detractors in the Sangguniang Panlalawigan “to stop making the people bear the burden of sacrifice. It’s time you bore the burden of sacrifice and be selfless for once,” he emphasized.
The governor, now in his last term, attributed his competence to “the most important resource — the faith of the people” for him to carry on in leading “the immense task of reforming the province so he may achieve the vision of an empowered Cagayan and an empowered Cagayano.”
Addressing the Cagayano populace, he said: “Fifty-two days ago, 302,025 of you made the collective free, intelligent, and dignified choice to love Cagayan and pursue our vision to become a progressive and peaceful community, of empowered Cagayanos that hosts a sustainable and globally competitive economic hub.”
“I salute each of you for your courage and sacrifice despite threats, intimidation, and the overwhelming influence of money during the elections,” he said, thanking those who voted for him.
He recalled his first day in office as governor in 2016 that the Provincial Capitol “was unkempt and did not command the respect and dignity of a government facility, more so with the bust of an accused plunderer adorning its threshold that the entire country knew of what he did.”
Upon assuming office during his first term, he noted that District Hospitals in the province were called “hospatay” (hospital of death) due to a lack of medical staff, medical equipment, medicines, ambulances, and poor maintenance. Some doctors owned pharmacies around the provincial government hospitals to take advantage of the lack of medicines, and non-hospital personnel took a cut from the Philhealth income, he added.
But the governor underscored the wisdom of health promotion with the improvement of manpower complement, infrastructure, medical equipment, supplies, and medicines to the 8 District Hospitals and 4 infirmaries of the provincial government.
He cited the presence of the Provincial Health Officer and the Chiefs of Hospitals, the Chiefs of Baggao District Hospital Dr. Sharon Go, and Aparri District Hospital Dr. Raymund Ruiz, “who could attest to the billions of pesos the provincial government has poured into such development and advancement.”
More than 200 kilometers of provincial roads were cemented in Mamba’s six years of administration, and thousands of road networks were repaired. “These roads long years ago were unpaved despite hundreds of millions of development funds allocated every year,” he said.
The provincial government brought to their height the No Barangay Left Behind (NBLB) and No Town Left Behind (NTLB), the first of their kind across the country that have gathered steam and led to numerous developments in the locale, Mamba noted.
“The erection of five bridges across the Cagayan River was indeed a dream come true. The construction of the Camalaniugan bridge and Amulung Bridge are underway,” he added.
Noting the other priority bridges — Alcala Bridge, Nassiping-Dungao Bridge, and Solana Bridge — the governor asked President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to support and allocate funds for them, aside from the priority projects in Luzon.
These are the roads from Solsona, Ilocos Norte traversing Kabugao, Apayao via Ninoy Aquino Bridge in Tuao Cagayan towards the Aparri port, which was the idea of the late President Ferdinand Marcos Sr. for Luzon, he noted.
Mamba is hopeful that President Marcos Jr. will continue the plans of his late father in Northern Luzon.
The governor also noted that he scaled up efforts, raised the bar on disaster preparedness, and provided another set of rubber boats, rescue patrol vehicles, and heavy equipment.
SEF gyms with an average worth of P3.5 million each were constructed in 73 schools, while thousands of students availed of provincial government scholarships and barangay officers were given aid.
For the youth, the provincial government attended to their developing skills and competencies and provided opportunities for their professional development, thus P20 million was allocated to thousands of Cagayano athletes annually, Mamba said.
Ranked as the 5th highest-performing Governor out of 81 Governors in the Philippines, Mamba has done a notable job of setting the direction of the province and of getting things done “despite the uncooperative Sangguniang Panlalawigan and Vice Governor,” his supporters said.
“Before, the fleet of heavy equipment was ‘rented out’ to contractors of the Provincial Government for Provincial Government Projects in the guise of ‘economic enterprises’; Engineers and architects were moonlighting as contractors and real estate agents; there were fuel and supply pilferages,” Mamba said.
“Farmers’ benefits were diverted for officials and employees of the Province; we had substandard agricultural infrastructure projects; Outrageous amounts were spent on tourism marketing campaigns with no significant economic gain for the communities and the province; We had no strategic tourism development plan,” he added.
Large-scale black sand mining was disguised as small-scale mining, quarry operations went unmonitored, gratuitous quarry permits were issued left and right; unassessed and uncollected sand and gravel taxes, there was rampant illegal logging, and provincial government property was used for private purposes, Mamba said.
Cagayan also sported “homogeneous” human resources with entire families hired as employees. The capitol had an outdated organizational structure and lacked a human resource development plan, there was low manpower competence and skill sets, low manpower morale and productivity, and no unity and cooperation within and among departments, he added.
The deteriorating and poorly maintained facilities like the old museum and the sub-capitol building. un-inventoried and untitled real properties, missing firearms (AK-47s), poorly maintained government vehicles, overpriced infrastructure projects, and disadvantageous lease contracts over Provincial Government properties.
Governor Mamba officially took his oath of office for his third term before Barangcuag village head Clarito Cadiz of Tuao town, his bailiwick which delivered 763 votes for him while Dr. Zarah Lara, his opponent, got zero votes there.
Four other village heads who registered almost 100 percent votes in their areas for Mamba were Narciso Espejo of Dalupiri in Calayan, Artemio Archibido of Malalinta, Tuao, Rolando Lumboy of Dagupan, Tuao, and Francisco Genoma of Battung, Tuao town.
The governor has lined up a $6-billion investment program for infrastructure projects, including the Cagayan International Seaport and Heavy Industries in Aparri, the Cagayan International Airport in Piat, the Cagayan Smart City in Tuao, and the Cagayan Railway System from Aparri to Piat.
The governor concluded his inaugural speech with gratitude, saying: “I have kept my promise six years ago, and I will make the same promise today, I will not fail you.”
“So, to my beloved people of Cagayan, by the mandate you have vested in me, this vision for Cagayan is yours as much as it is mine. Together, let us transform our Province into an economic hub of Asia, and make Cagayan great again,” he said.