“Mangyayari tabi an kuryente na pinangako ko.”
With these words, an undaunted Congressman Hector S. Sanchez last week put at stake his personal reputation and political career on his assurance that his promised submarine power cable project would be realized.
Refusing to be cowed by criticisms, particularly on social media, the reelectionist congressman said in his Ulat sa Panlalawigan last Friday, Oct. 29, 2021, that the vow is not political propaganda and that he will continue to work to achieve the goal to prove doubters wrong.
“An sakuyang pangako, bako sanang para marealisar na magkakaigwang sustenableng kuryente, kundi para man sa mga Catandunganon,” Sanchez stated. “Our campaign promise will not remain as a promise.”
He vowed to continuously strive to give a permanent solution to the power crisis, pointing out that his name is already inextricably linked to the issue and shouted out by frustrated consumers every time there is a brownout.
“I remain committed to that promise,” Sanchez reiterated, saying that the funding for the project will come from the Office of the President.
“We are expecting that within this year, the bidding process will start and the project to be implemented in the early part of next year,” he emphasized.
In his report to the province at the Catanduanes State University auditorium, Cong. Sanchez pointed out that he has accomplished a significant number of things for the province.
In the education section, the solon said he lobbied for the recovery of P125 million in capital outlay funding for the university that the budget department slashed.
A total of P6.4 million in financial assistance was released to college students at P3,500 each while his office managed to secure P31.8 million in funding for the printing of self-learning modules of the Department of Education in Catanduanes, as well as P4.5 million for the Free Training-for-Work scholarship of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).
Sanchez said he personally appealed to DepEd Sec. Leonor Briones for the repair of hundreds of school buildings damaged by typhoon Rolly last year, with the division granted P700 million from the Quick Response Fund (QRF).
On internet connectivity, he reported that Smart positively responded to the letter-request that he and Gov. Cua sent in a bid to get the telecoms giant to build additional towers, with 21 macro cell sites to be established in the coming months.
Mora than 15,000 beneficiaries were assisted through different activities costing P70 million under the Department of Labor and Employment’s Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (TUPAD), while another 1,000 people were helped through the P7 million Government Internship Program (GIP).
With regards to the P120 million assistance to abaca farmers, whose funding was reportedly utilized by the Department of Agriculture for another program, Cong. Sanchez revealed that he moved to recover the allocation which will be released through the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
He said that with the help of the Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority (PhilIFIDA) and the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPAg), the list of beneficiary abaca farmers has been submitted to DSWD
Corollary to this, Sanchez declared, an amount of P20 million has been allocated for the establishment of the Abaca Tuxy Processing Facility in Caramoran, which would secure the quality of fiber produced on the island.
Paying tribute to the former congressman for initiating the boulevard expansion and extension project, Sanchez said that on top of the initial two project packages, he added two more during his first two years in Congress, with the largest allocation of P450 million to be released in 2022.
“I assure everyone that we will see a better and more durable boulevard, which will not be easily damaged by the recurrent typhoons and storm surges,” he remarked during a brief video presentation of projects undertaken under his watch by the DPWH Catanduanes District Engineering Office.
Among the other vital infrastructure projects constructed include a P50 million allocation for the sewerage and drainage system in Virac, the establishment of proper water systems in 11 barangays in all towns along with eight more on-going projects, plus P150 million for the pipeline development and installation of Virac Water District, all in accordance with his campaign promise to provide potable water to the whole province.
In health services, Rep. Sanchez proudly reported that for the first time in the history of Eastern Bicol Medical Center (EBMC), the funding for Medical Assistance for Indigents Program o MAIP increased from the previous P500,000 to P19 million just in 2020, including P500,000 for each district hospital in another first.
This year, he said, P12.5 million has been allotted for EBMC while each district hospital will get P800,000.
“Kun susumahon, mas dakol an satuyang nadarang pondo sa satuyang mga hospital kumpara sa mga nakaaging kongresista,” Sanchez declared. “Buhay, bakong semento, an satuyang tinaw-an nin duon sa enot tang termino.”
He cited three patients at the provincial hospital who were confined and incurred bills amounting to more than a hundred thousand pesos each, with the bills paid in full through MAIP.
Many other indigent Catandunganons were assisted at East Avenue Medical Center and the National Kidney and Transplant Institute under a similar program, he added.
“In the span of two years and a half, we have allocated over P33 million for the MAIP Program, far higher than the regular P5 million annual appropriation in the past administration,” he stressed. “And we have served more than 3,700 Catandunganons whose lives have been directly impacted by this program.”
In addition, the solon stated, a total of P44 million were allocated to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)’s Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS), for those needing help for medical, burial, transportation, food, and educational assistance.
On the legislative aspect, Rep. Sanchez bared that he was co-author of the Salary Standardization Law (SSL) 5 as well as the House bill that sought to increase the entry-level salary of public school teachers to P32,000, P35,000 for college teachers, and P6,000 for non-teaching staff.
He said that his bill seeking to convert the Cabugao School of Handicraft and Cottage Industries into the Catanduanes Polytechnic Skills Development Institute is now awaiting approval of the Senate this year.
Another measure, HB 09195, otherwise known as An Act Creating the Catanduanes Urban Development Authority to be given a budget of P2 billion, will lead to the creation of economic zones in the province, he said.
In support of the move of Catanduanes State University President Dr. Patrick Alain Azanza to create an eco-zone in the institution’s idle lands, Cong. Sanchez gladly announced that his bill that would grant P1 billion in funding to the KIST Park and Agro-Industrial Economic Processing Zone has passed deliberation by two house committees.
As to his future plans, the congressman said he would endeavor to increase funding for MAIP, AICS and TUPAD and for farm-to-market roads, access and by-pass roads, flood mitigating structures and multi-purpose buildings.
Additional evacuation centers that could double as quarantine facilities would be proposed, starting with the P36 million facility now funded by DPWH, while the perimeter fence of the PNP headquarters would also be given funding.
He said he is coordinating with the Office of Civil Defense for the construction of their satellite office warehouse here in Catanduanes in view of the island’s being prone to typhoons and other disasters.
Aside from a proposal to establish an Economic and Freeport Zone in Caramoran, Cong. Sanchez indicated that he will push in Congress the inclusion of e-sports in SUC curriculums.
Proposed bills providing additional benefits for solo parents and free annual medical checkups for all, the modernization of Public Health Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Capabilities, and establishment of learning centers for Learners with Disabilities are all in the Senate awaiting approval which he said he expects to happen soon.
“Mangyayari tabi an kuryente na pinangako ko.”