MANILA, Philippines – Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte unveiled her vision for her city Monday, October 7, and she jumpstarted this by proposing a P27 billion budget for 2020.
This request was 30% more than this year's budget, but she said this was possible even without raising taxes.
During her State of the City Address, Belmonte also rattled off several plans for Quezon City.
Traffic and transport management
Following the completion of Task Force 60 Days that implemented the directive to reclaim public roads, Belmonte announced the start of Task Force Forever. She said that this initiative does not require an executive order. Their goal is free up city-owned and barangay-owned roads and sidewalks in order to create more walkable spaces.
Belmonte also urged the city council to enact ordinances such as those for comprehensive parking, prohibiting vulcanizing shops, talyers, and terminals along major roads, and regulating motorcycle taxis.
With regard to traffic management, Belmonte said that cameras were now installed along P. Tuazon corner 15th Avenue as a proof of concept of their proposed "No Contact Apprehension" policy.
"Once finalized, all city-owned and operated intersections will have this technology. This is to avoid corruption and lessen human friction in traffic management," she said.
Following the African swine fever outbreak that affected 3 Quezon City barangays, Belmonte gave hog raisers until February 2020 to comply with the zoning Ordinance prohibiting piggeries in the city.
She also included affected hog raisers in the new Quezon City Recovery Program for Employment Assistance, Training and Entrepreneurship.
Students and teachers alike can now expect to receive their allowances on time.
Quezon City has partnered with PayMaya to release allowances to recipients of the QC Scholarship and Youth Development Program. They were also improving the system that processed allowances for teachers.
Belmonte is proposing a Children's Welfare Unit and a job desk for persons with disabilities.
To address the 215,000 informal settler families (ISFs) in the city, Belmonte is eyeing the construction of a township. Under this, mid to high rise structures with various payment options will be built.
Along with this is the restructuring of the
Housing, Community Development, and Resettlement Department to be more finely attuned to the needs of ISFs and to prepare for the flagship initiative.
With regard to education, Belmonte vowed to construct:
In terms of healthcare, Belmonte said that free maintenance medicines and pneumococcal vaccines will be made available to senior citizens.
Belmonte said they would implement a new system of procuring medicines first developed by Makati City Mayor Abigail Binay. The new system ensured no wastage or leakage.
She also vowed to bring down to zero the number of persons living with HIV in Quezon City. This was a nod to her commitment to the UN Fast Track initiatives.
While the SOGIE bill was stalled in the Senate, Belmonte vowed, while apologizing to Senate President Tito Sotto who was present, that Quezon City would be more aggressive in enforcing its Gender-Fair ordinance.
"We will focus less on beauty contests and concentrate our efforts on advocacy and education in order to build a truly inclusive society respectful of diversity. Hindi lang po ito usaping CR (This is not just bathroom talk); this is an issue that is rooted in respect, compassion, and love for others – and we will treat it as such," she said.
Automation of processes
One of Belmonte's thrusts for her term was to automate processes so citizens would not have to face the burden of going to city hall and go through long lines.
"We are now working with partners to automate many of our processes so that applications and payments can be done from the convenience of your homes. We are likewise working to digitize documents across various departments and make public information available online to reduce your need to come to City Hall," she said.
The city government has partnered with the Commission on Audit to computerize their human resources information system, without incurring additional cost to the city.
She also vowed to include standardized electronic employment documents in the system to shorten the delay in salary release.
Belmonte added that barangay clearance fees will be standardized and would be included in the Business One-Stop Shop so that these would be paid along with the other requirements for putting up a business.
Along with these, she said the city government is in the process of creating mini city halls in order to decentralize processes. Business offices, where paying taxes and other transactions with the government can be made, will be put up in malls across the city.
Belmonte said government documents can now be fully accessed and scrutinized through the newly-passed Freedom of Information ordinance.
New business opportunities are also being eyed, most notable of which is a new telecommunications company that will soon set up shop in the city. According to Belmonte, LBS Telecoms would hire 800 Quezon City residents.
Belmonte also said that the city government would create new night markets dubbed Sari-saring Kyusi. These sites where micro-entrepreneurs and displaced vendors can sell their products will be conducted in the parking lots of several partner malls, including Vertis North.
"Malinaw po ang mensahe natin para sa ating mga small businesses sa QC: kung gusto niyo po mag-negosyo sa ating siyudad, tutulungan namin kayo," Belmonte said.
(Our message for those with small businesses in QC is clear: if you want to conduct business in the city, we will help you.)
Climate change mitigation
Amid the worsening climate, Belmonte is also eyeing the solarization of government-owned buildings, reducing solid waste, enhancing wastewater management, and promoting walkability and biking initiatives. Single-use plastics and utensils are also set to be banned citywide.
In line with this walkable and bikeable lanes dubbed Green, Open, Renewable Access (GORA) Lanes will be opened next year. The Quezon Memorial Circle would also be redeveloped to be a major tourist destination.
City government employees
As for good governance, Belmonte said meritocracy will be practiced in the promotions process. Employees will also be exposed to capacity-building programs.
A budget of P90 million will also be allocated for health benefits of city hall employees.
To add, an anniversary bonus will also be given to all local government employees as part of the city's 80th foundation anniversary. This bonus will be given next week.
The culminating activity of the city's 80th foundation anniversary celebrations would be the World's Largest Multi-City Hackathon. It is a gathering of 4,000 socially-conscious individuals for 24 hours, in order to come up with solutions to the country's most pressing problems through technology.
According to Belmonte, this event will be the city's contribution to the Guinness Book of World Records. – Rappler.com
Loreben Tuquero is a researcher-writer for Rappler. Before transferring to Rappler's Research team, she covered transportation, Quezon City, and the Department of the Interior and Local Government as a reporter. She graduated with a communication degree from the Ateneo de Manila University.