Setting course for the economic rebound of Zambales

GOVERNMENT OF ZAMBALES HERMOGENES EBDANE JR. is a former Chief of the Philippine National Police, Secretary of Defense and Chief of Public Works and Highways.

First elected governor of Zambales in 2010, he is now serving his fourth term after a brief hiatus in 2016. In an interview with the Manila Times, Ebdane said he wanted to leave as a legacy “a Zambales who could suffice on its own”. — progressive, forward-looking, competitive, capable, challenging and proud”.

Governor of Zambales, Hermogenes Ebdane Jr., says, “There needs to be synergy between leaders and residents for us to be successful in governance. PHOTO TMT

Here are excerpts from that exchange.

The Manila Times: What is your forecast for Zambales now that the economy is recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic?

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Ebdane: As the country begins to rebuild… Zambales will also have to tackle the task of accelerating development momentum to make up for lost time. And because the adverse effects of the pandemic — job losses, production slowdown, loss of capital, etc. and workforce — to fuel our catch-up programs, determining the most appropriate corrective measures and action plans, and mustering the will to implement those action plans in the face of limited resources and time pressure.

Hopefully we can start slowly and methodically, avoiding quick and false starts. With local government units initiating the initiatives, we can gradually increase the pace and pace as we expand our efforts to include other sectors of the community. It is very important to have to be seen as effective so that we can enjoin others to participate in these efforts. So planning and timing are both crucial.

TMT: What are your short and long term plans for the province?

Ebdane: In the long term, we envision a progressive, competitive, capable, and empowering provincial government that would build resident capacity, create inclusive growth, and develop local community sustainability and self-reliance. And for us to achieve this long-term plan – as we set out in our Vision 2020 development program, which we have since updated – we must set development priorities in terms of health, education, livelihoods and infrastructure, which are the basic conditions for socio-economic growth.

We must prioritize health, first and foremost, as we have realized during the pandemic that a healthy population is the absolute necessity of any social enterprise, be it social, economic or political.

Next, we favor education to strengthen local skills, particularly in the management of social infrastructure. Thus, in the short term, we will develop courses and educational applications adapted to local needs.

In terms of livelihood development, we will aim to modernize local agriculture given that farming and fishing are still the main sources of income for most Zambaleños. To this end, we have encouraged widespread mechanization with the use of agricultural tractors, portable irrigators and other equipment to introduce a paradigm shift in the way agriculture is practiced in the province. We need to usher in not only increased production, but also efficiency in creating local products to meet the demand for local production and, more importantly, to inspire younger generations to take up farming.

TMT: What resources are needed to achieve such goals? And what obstacles and challenges do you see?

Ebdane: Many hardware and software requirements would be needed to achieve these goals. We would need both funds and manpower to achieve our social development goals. This is why we have also developed local sources of funding to support local infrastructure projects, which are also intended to serve as cornerstones of our social development program.

Meanwhile, the soft component of our efforts would be management skills among local executives and task performers so that we have better planning and implementation.

Barring funding barriers, I don’t think there would be many implementation issues since residents and stakeholders, who are informed and consulted at every step, are strongly supportive of our development plans.

TMT: What gains have been made so far by your administration during the difficult times of the Covid-19 pandemic?

Ebdane: Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, Zambales has increased its financial performance from a budget of 1.62 billion pesos in 2019 to 1.9 billion pesos in 2020 and 2.42 billion pesos in 2021, with steadily increasing environmental revenue collection starting at 75.2 pesos. million in 2019, 118.5 million pesos in 2020 and 201.8 million pesos last year. Due to steady financial growth, Zambales was recognized by the Bureau of Local Government Finance as the top performer in Region 3 in 2020 and number four nationally in 2021 for year-over-year growth in local income.

The additional revenue streams have also enabled us to complete infrastructure projects worth 1.22 billion pesos over the past three years that benefit local communities. I also urged municipal authorities to make an inventory of local products and services that could be developed to increase revenue streams and create more jobs for residents.

TMT: How can you maintain the momentum of this development?

Ebdane: There must be a synergy between the leaders and the inhabitants for us to succeed in governance. For this reason, I have urged local officials to move forward together and prepare for greater public service in partnership with residents.

We must keep in mind that things will not get better by chance but by deliberate change that we must introduce as leaders of our community. Action, rather than talk, should characterize public service.

About Stuart M. McFarland

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