LAOAG CITY —Owing to a strong transitional economy rapidly growing at 16.7 percent, residents here look forward to a brand new year, with high hopes that recent developments in the province will yield more opportunities in the near future.

Tagged by the International Standardization Organization (ISO) as the first Philippine province to become ISO compliant, its efficient document tracking system paved the way for this year’s ‘blockbuster’ achievements in local governance. The business sector took notice of this with the registration of 20,000 new businesses worth 4.2 billion pesos by simplifying the process of business permitting.

Ilocos Norte’s aggressive campaign to promote tourism and investment opportunities brought significant increase to Ilocos Norte’s economic performance from approximately Php 739 million in 2010 to Php 1.42 billion provincial income today.

Governor Imee Marcos said in her budget message, Ilocos Norte’s local revenue generation has doubled compared to the previous year with a self-generated income of more than Php 319.5 this year.

Earlier this year, the Ilocos Norte government first focused on securing all land titles of the provincial government and made it available for lease to the private sector. Through its REGALA (Revenue Generation and Land Administration Reforms) project and ‘Handog Titulo (Free land titling) program, several local government units now have a systematic land information and efficient transactions on real properties.

As reflected in the 2015 State of the Province Address (SOPA) of the governor, recently recognized as one of this year’s Outstanding Governorship Awardees of the Philippines, her new leadership style helped transformed Ilocos Norte into a progressive and sustainable province since the beginning of her administration in 2010.

Under Marcos administration, the Department of Social Welfare and Development confirmed Ilocos Norte is now one of the few provinces in the country to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) set by the United Nations Development Programme, successfully reducing the provincial poverty rate from 28% to 8.4%, this year.

Guided by the provincial vision of “Pasingkedan ti Kinatan-ok ni Ilocano: Together, we can make Ilocos Norte great again!”, which she launched in 2010 and the “Pas-pas-Dur-as (Rapid Growth) in 2015, thousands of jobs have been created with major BPO (Business Processing Outsourcing) expanding service centers in the province. Like the Expert Global Solutions and Accenture Company, they are now hiring over 5,000 agents to occupy its soon-to-be completed building at the Valdez center in neighboring San Nicolas town.

On Peace and Order, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Ilocos Norte led by Vice Governor Angelo Marcos Barba also passed a milestone ordinance, creating the anti-partisan group council, a permanent unit of the provincial government with a budget of Php 5 million annually, tasked to regularly coordinate with the Police Provincial Office to go after criminal elements.

As public health still remains a major concern in the province, Ilocos Norte increased its budget for health insurance and point-of-care to cater to all patients in-need. In the 2016 budget, public health accounts on top of the major services worth over Php 275.7 million and Php 36.3 million for medicines.

Developments in the agriculture and environment sectors are starting up to shape Ilocos farming sector with the utilization of new and resilient seeds and crops to increase farmers’ productivity while strengthening the ‘green wall’ of the province covering at least 8,000 hectares sprawling the mountainous areas of Solsona, Dingras, Badoc, Nueva Era and Carasi. At least Php 5 million was also allocated by the province 2016 budget for the rehabilitation of watersheds and improve the province’s water management system as part of its Climate Change mitigation program and campaign on disaster preparedness.

While investing on human capital regarded as the biggest asset of the province, the provincial government has also allocated about Php 18.7 million for scholarship grants and the installation of 38 information hubs , equipped with 650 units of computers with internet access to serve students covering 21 municipalities and two cities of Ilocos Norte.

Norte was also cited as one of the 10 Galing Pook 2015 awardees for its flagship youth program “Sirib Express,” a proof of Governor Marcos’ continuing excellence in local governance.

While running unopposed to finish her third and final term as Ilocos Norte governor in the 2016 elections, Marcos said the provincial government will remain committed in upholding the spirit of ‘timpuyog’ or unity as well as excellence in governance towards a bright and sustainable future for the province. Leilani G. Adriano/PNA