BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – “Walang politika, walang personalan, trabaho lang.”
These were the key words of Bacolod Mayor Alfredo Abelardo Benitez in his inaugural speech tonight, promising impartiality and “no color coding” as he outlines what he calls as his dreams for the city, envisioning a super city that is green, smart, and digitized.
Benitez, speaking in a mixture of English and Hiligaynon, said he wants to ensure an impartial governance bereft of political color while he is mayor.
He also outlined his plans for the city which he said is anchored on his personal mantra, “Dreaming big”, as he pointed out that this had helped him be where he is now, both in business and in politics.
Benitez outlined key projects including among others projects that would help the city become a green, digital super city, a model city with digitized systems, ecologically sound, and safe.
Key point in his speech is health saying that the biggest priority is establishing a Bacolod Comprehensive Health Care Program with the biggest allocation of the city’s budget going to health.
He also revealed his plan to have 5,000 on-site housing units within one year for informal settlers so that these residents will not have to relocate to a far-flung area.
Residents who will not be able to afford their housing units will be given jobs to be able to pay for their mortgages.
Benitez also revealed he had given working orders to Bacolod City Police chief, Police Colonel Thomas Joseph Martir to resolve the recent spate of killings in the city, by increasing police patrol and surveillance especially in crime prone areas, in order to resolve the crimes and deliver immediate results.
He also plans to invest in state of the art CCTV installation as well as solar powered street lights. This would ensure not just safety of the residents as well as increased visibility to dissuade potential criminals but will also encourage people to walk to work.
Biking and walking should be explored as means of transportation because they are not only ecologically sound, but these would also help decongest traffic in main roads.
He also proposed opening barangay roads to decongest traffic in main roads and maximize the lesser-used thoroughfares.
He also called for restoration of public trust through transparency, as well as expediting transactions by coming up with a digitized system especially in the application and release of business permits.
As for the issue of garbage, he said the city will incentivize garbage collection through a trash for cash program where households that are able to segregate garbage at the source will be given cash.
He also wanted the city to go green by planting more trees and creating green spaces like parks to address issues on the environment.
Furthermore, Benitez also promised to resolve the issue of water, promising long-term water security by end of the year by looking at partnerships with Talisay and Murcia in providing supply of bulk water to the city.
“Let’s dream big,” he said, adding, “We can do everything and we can do anything with your participation.”