Marinduque Gov. Presbitero Velasco, Jr. delivers his inaugural address

“Today is the dawn of a great change that will usher a new era in the next 100 years of our great province. I will consider the next millennium in the province as the Golden Era of the Province of Marinduque.” – Gov. Presbitero J. Velasco, Jr.

June 30, 2019. It was an unforgettable day for many of the thousands who came to take part in a colorful and historic event. The inaugural ceremonies for the newly-elected and reelected provincial leaders of Marinduque. Newly elected Governor Presbitero J. Velasco, Jr. who won by a landslide margin declared: “Today, the 30th of June 2019, will be remembered as the time when our beloved province is on the cusp of remarkable change and transformation from the old to the new.”

As the coming year will be a milestone for the province of Marinduque, popularly known as the ‘heart of the Philippines’, being smack center of the archipelago the occasion was even more significant. “This is an exciting period in the lives of of Marinduqueños as we will be celebrating our 100th year of the founding of our beloved province next year – 2020”, he said.

Newly-elected and reelected provincial leaders. From left, BM Juan R, Fernandez, Jr., BM Ishmael DP Lim, BM Mercede R. Rejano, BM Melgabal R. Encabo, Gov. Presbitero J. Velaco, Jr., Ass. Justice Andres J. Reyes, Jr. (he administered the oath). Cong. Lord Allan Q. Velasco, Vice-Gov. Romulo A. Bacorro, Jr., BM Angeline M. Angeles, BM John R. Pelaez, BM Theresa P. Caballes and BM Gilbert L. Daquioag.

For the new governor who retired as associate justice of the Supreme Court just a year ago, it’s like turning a new page in the province’s history – the only province in the MIMAROPA region south of Luzon and the only remaining 4th class province in the said region of island-provinces.

In his inaugural address Gov. Velasco pointed out that adequate water, a basic service, has become scarce in almost all of the six municipalities, although the town of Torrijos, he remarked, is solving the problem with a water system for 25 barangays nearing completion and that in Boac, construction of phase one of its water system has been started by Maynilad. It is back to basics.

“Indeed, this is the day that we turn a page and write a new chapter from stagnation and even regression to progression. This is an exciting period in the lives of Marinduqueños as we will be celebrating our 100th year of the founding of our beloved province next year – 2020.

“Today is the dawn of a great change that will usher a new era in the next 100 years of our great province. I will consider the next millennium in the province as the Golden Era of the Province of Marinduque.

Only 3,444 out of 53,587.5 hectares suitable for planting in the entire province are irrigated; he stressed. If nothing is done, “supply of rice will be more acute thus endangering the food sufficiency of our kababayans”.

The governor also noted his province’s other known issues: unreliable electricty (“businessmen will never set up business where energy cost is high and electricity is irregular”); provincial hospitals lacking doctors, equipment and medicine with hospitals in Sta. Cruz and Torrijos demoted to mere infirmaries (“the lives of our kababayans are exposed to unnecessary risks or even death); lack of jobs and means of livelihood; need for more for more farm to market roads; need to develop and promote potential tourist attractions (“urgent need to start developing these areas before we can rightfully claim that Marinduque is a tourist destination”); lack of efficient and reliable communication facilities (“poor internet facilities and lack sufficient number of cell sites”.

On the Marcopper problem: “We have to address the frightening reality that the toxic tailings found in the siltation dams and pits of Marcopper pose a serious threat to the lives and properties of our kababayans”); on Marinduque’s search for environmental justice: “The long standing Marcopper case has to be brought to conclusion lest our rights will forever be prejudiced”.

For the Centennial Governor the island-province has slept the “Rip Van Winkle sleep for 40 to 45 years”. “Naiwan na tayo sa pansitan ng ating mga kalapit lalawigan na puro 1st or 2nd class provinces like Quezon, Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro, Romblon and Palawan”.

“Makabuluhang pagbabago” he said is inevitable: “There can be no success without change. There can be no progress without change… In governance, the leaders must be attuned to the changes happening in the world… and change must come now”.

Bringing to mind a familiar ‘kasabihan’: “Kung hindi ka kikibo, sino ang kikibo? Kung hindi ka kikilos, sino ang kikilos? Kung hindi ngayon, kelan pa?”

Ang problema natin mga kababayan ay basic – water for personal use, water for irrigation, dependable electricity, medical services, lack of infrastructure and lack of jobs and livelihood.

The new Governor spelled out his basic goals such as the construction of dams or reservoirs in Marinduque’s rivers and small water impounding facility (SWIF) in streams, installation of water collectors in house in accordance with the Rainwater Collectors Law, putting into place a water conservation program.

The district hospitals in Sta. Cruz and Torrijos currently classified as infirmaries must be returned to level one and the Damian Reyes Provincial Hospital should see an increase in doctors, equipment with free medicine for the indigent. The poor should have access to medical check-up with free blood test, x-ray and ECG.

Marinduque shall see the full implementation of Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) projects that include and accelerated coconut planting and replacing program, coconut fertilization, intercropping with high-value crops such as cacao, coffee, banana, corn, pineapple and vegetables, among others in between spaces under coconut trees. Cooperatives of coconut farmers will be created to produce and market high value coconut products, livestock raising will be provided to augment the income of the coconut farmers.

“Pinangako ang malaking tulong sa Marinduque ng PCA at nararapat lamang ito dahil ang inyong abang lingkod ang nagbigay ng hatol sa coco levy funds case na pabor sa ating mga coconut farmers”. It will be recalled that 100 billion pesos was added to the National Treasury after this landmark decision penned by the Governor Velaco as former associate justice.

After earlier talks with Department of Agriculture officials he aid in hi speech that they’re set to undertake an agricultural development plan for Marinduque to be followed by the implementation of various DA projects. According to him there are other projects and programs to be tapped from the Bureau of Animal Industry, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources and Mines and Geosciences Bureau.

He also said that a Tourism Development Program for the this island’s tourism potentials – beaches waterfalls, mountains, caves and other beautiful spots – will be crafted and utilize these to obtain fund support from the Department of Tourism and DBM. Soon a Tourism Master Plan with Architect Jun Palafox to show the way will be in place, he also added.

“Congressman Lord Allan Velasco will sponsor a bill creating an economic-tourism zone in barangays Ino and Capayang that includes the construction of a port. Investors will come in to build factories, hotels and resort facilities.”

Then Gov. Velasco quotes Kennedy: “United there is nothing we cannot do. Divided there is nothing we can do.”

“Hindi naman ako Superman at hindi ito kaya ng isang tao lamang. I can do a lot of things which you cannot and you can do something which I can’t. But together, we can do great things.”, he said.

Finally he call upon his constituency: “Let us put our shoulders to the will and forge a strong and invincible unity that will propel Marinduque to greatness. Mabuhay ang Marinduqueño. Mabuhay ang Marinduque. Pagpalain ng Diyos ang Marinduque!”

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