Cua vows to continue focus on social services, helping people

Gov. JOSEPH C. CUA

Citing his accomplishments and laying out his administration’s future agenda, Governor Joseph C. Cua has vowed to continue his focus on social services and other soft projects, with P189 million allocated in the next year’s budget of the province.
In his State of the Province Address last Monday, Oct. 25, 2021, at the CatSU Gymnasium, the provincial chief executive admitted that critics are correct in pointing out the lack of infrastructure projects in the current administration, as priority has been given to soft projects.
“Ini, totoo man talaga,” Cua said. “An satuyang mga programa bakong sementadong edificio— an programa ta iyo ining mga tinugdok direkta sa daghan nin sarong ina na gahagad nin tuwang na mapabulong an saiyang aki, nin sarong ama na nakimahelak na matuwangan na an saiyang aki mapalubong, nin sarong estudyante na nagpursige sa pag eskwela na nangarap man maging abogado o doktor.”
This brand of public service from the services of the Eastern Bicol Medical Center to various forms of assistance, he pointed out, cannot be forgotten and cannot be destroyed by any typhoon and are better than concrete structures.
Since his return from a one-year suspension, he said the province has been able to provide nearly P18 million to over 3,000 constituents through the Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situations (AICS).
“Sinda an mga tugang niato na pigahari an supog, gapunta sa satuyang opisina tanganing igwa sana nin mahagadan nin tuwang,” Cua said.
Also benefiting from the AICS were indigent senior citizens, Persons with Disabilities, centenarians, and almost 8,000 families who were provided with GI sheets amounting to almost P50 million following super typhoon Rolly.
Under the TUPAD (Tulong Panghanap-Buhay sa Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers), P9.7 million were paid out to 1,887 beneficiaries who worked in the typhoon rehab, street cleaning, and abaca rehab programs, with the rest of the P32 million secured with the help of Congressman Hector Sanchez to be distributed before the end of the year.
He thanked the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and Senators Bong Go, Joel Villanueva, Kiko Pangilinan, Leila de Lima, and Risa Hontiveros for providing their allocations for TUPAD to Catanduanes.
At the EBMC, the governor disclosed that the hospital’s Indigency Program shouldered the almost P12 million in excess bills of 4,485 poor patients who were enrolled in the No-Balance Billing program.
In partnership with Cong. Sanchez’s office, the province was able to provide P31 million under the Medical Assistance for Indigents Program (MAIP) since 2019, with district hospitals getting P4.3 million.
He bared that the EBMC Dialysis Center, with 10 units, will become operational this year upon the completion of the training of hospital staff.
On the COVID-19 pandemic response, the governor urged the Provincial Health Office and the DOH Catanduanes to expedite the roll-out of additional vaccines requested by the Capitol from the DOH once it arrives.
He likewise raised the possibility of the island finally openings its doors to tourists once the coronavirus cases lessen, which would prompt the IATF to loosen travel restrictions.
Regarding infrastructure development, Cua disclosed that a total of P168 million has been allotted this year for the construction of roads, water and drainage systems, river control, seawalls and flood control structures, including P25.5 million for hospitals.
In the education sector, he cited the distribution of Wi-Fi routers and reams of bond paper to Sangguniang Kabataan and their communities to help in students’ modular and online learning; the first seven beneficiaries of the Catanduanes Medical and Law Scholarship Program; the revision of the existing scholarship assistance program for undergraduate students, including academically-performing ones; and, the forthcoming distribution of 200 tablets to students in need at the Catanduanes State University.
He singled out for praise the CatSU move to establish an economic zone in the province, saying that the province will likewise apply for eco-zines in order to transform the province into an island of opportunities in education and innovation, jobs and livelihood, and social and economic development.
For 2022, Gov. Cua reported that P49 million has been set aside for the COVID-19 response efforts by the Catanduanes Development Council, as well as P8 million for the repair and maintenance of hospitals and the purchase of additional equipment.
He said that he has decided to partner with UNICEF in Catanduanes’ bid to become the first province with Zero Open Defecation, with P5 million allocated by the adimistration for each of the 3rd and 4th quarters of 2021.
This decision was prompted by data showing that the island has 3,921 children who are stunted, 2,432 who are underweight, and 672 who are in wasted condition, blamed on contributory factors such as malnutrition and lack of sanitary facilities.
Cua said 30 percent of homes in the province do not have proper sanitary facilities.
The other future and ongoing programs cited by the governor include: capacitation of law enforcement agencies with various equipment and transport vehicles; an annual convention of students who will actively take part in research and innovations to solve problems on the island; institutionalization of The Capitol Lighthouse publication; expansion of EBMC to provide services for more people; ongoing renovation of the Baras Medicare and Community Hospital which will host the donated Ancillary Machine for GeneXpert COVID-19 Testing and Screening Drug Testing Laboratory; and, the creation of a Provincial Mental Health Council for a unified integrative approach to mental health issues, including the passage of an ordinance giving necessary interventions, financial, psychological and livelihood assistance to families of suicide victims and abused women and children.
The 2021 SOPA was attended by Vice Governor Shirley Abundo and members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, each of whom delivered their response and statements of support to the governor’s agenda.
Municipal mayors, other elective and appointive officials from national agencies, beneficiaries of the provincial government’s social services, and sectoral representatives were present during the affair at the university gymnasium where minimum health protocols were observed.

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