Bohol Day Celebration Welcomes the Philippine President

By June Blanco

  True to her commitment, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will visit Bohol for the second time this year – as guest of honor and speaker during the 155th Bohol Day celebration.

  The President will be coming in on July 21 from a Cabinet meeting in Mindanao, enjoy a cruise on the Loboc River anew, rest overnight, speak during the commemorative program at the Bohol Cultural Center on July 22, preside over inauguration of new buildings and offices and lead launching rites for new projects before enplaning back to Manila. The center is a fully air-conditioned facility of the provincial government where close to 3,000 people will listen to her speak.

  At the program revolving on the theme Together We can Build a Greater Bohol, she will be conferred the Datu Sikatuna Award of Excellence – Pasidungog nga wa'y Makatupong – by Gov. Erico Aumentado, Vice Gov. Julius Caesar Herrera and Bohol's three congressmen: Edgar Chatto, Roberto Cajes and Adam Relson Jala.

  Aumentado said the award recognizes her for being the patroness of Bohol's unprecedented socio-economic development through her completion of the mega projects – Bohol Circumferential Road, Bohol Irrigation Project and Leyte-Bohol Interconnection Project and the launching of the Kapit-bisig Laban sa Kahirapan: Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (KALAHI-CIDSS) and other initiatives for poverty reduction.

  She had also implemented the Strong Republic Nautical Highway thereby developing the Tagbilaran City Tourist Port and the ports of Tubigon, Ubay Port and Jagna, as well as the highways linking them together; the development of Bohol's Tourism Road Improvement Projects and strong support for the province's two major economic drivers, namely, agriculture and tourism.

  She likewise provided the province with schools and hospital facilities and implemented the Panglao Bohol International Airport Development Project and the Philippine Transmission Co.'s (Transco, now National Grid Company of the Philippines or NGCP) Bohol Backbone Transmission Project, among others.

  Aumentado said all of these redound to the general welfare and well-being of the Boholano people, hence, it is but fitting to properly thank her.

  Bohol is embarking into biofuel production projects that will not only reduce air pollution but reforest denuded and unproductive forestlands and provide jobs and livelihood opportunities for the Boholanos as well.

  These are the jatropha plantation for the biofuel additive to diesel and red algae plantation for aquaculture sites all over Bohol's coastline for bio-ethanol, the gasoline additive. In effect, the governor expects the province to become the country's biofuel capital once the two projects are in full swing.

  The President will witness the signing of a memorandum of agreement (MOA) between Aumentado and Chief Executive Officer Romeo Tolentino of the Philippine National Oil Co.-Alternative Fuels Corp. (PNOC-AFC).

  The project is innovative in that it intends to tap goats for weeding the areas for planting instead of relying on paid humans to do so. This way the project becomes sustainable as the goats will always look forward to feeding on the weeds, unlike humans who may divert the money on non-farm related expenses.

  The governor has also apprised the President on his recent signing of the memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Dr. Gyungsoo Kiim of South Korea who invented the ethanol extraction process. His company, Biolsystems Co., Ltd., intends to establish a US$100 million ethanol extraction facility in Talibon town.

  Meanwhiile, Aumentado had invited Education Sec. Jesli Lapus to symbolically inaugurate 68 two-classroom school buildings or 136 classrooms all over Bohol funded under the Kilos Asenso convergence strategy. The batch is the second joint school building project of the DepEd and the province. A second batch with the Office of the President has been proposed.

  President Arroyo will also launch the two-year P26-million Project STARS or Skills Training Advocating for Reliance on Self-Employment funded by her office, the provincial government and Bohol's three congressmen. The project offers 12 short-term courses with two candidates from every barangay, training in each field.

  She will be assisted by Bishop Leonardo Medroso of the Diocese of Tagbilaran, Aumentado, Herrera, the three congressmen, Provincial Director Francisca Opog of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda-Bohol) and businessman Norris Oculam of the Bohol Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI), 

  Chatto will introduce the President who is expected to talk on, among others, Bohol's 155th Foundation Day, the MOU on the bio-ethanol project with South Korea, the first-ever joint government and private sector diagnostic center project called the Bohol Medical Care Institute dedicated to the poor and the middle class income bracket, the projects that she will inaugurate including the jatropha plantation, Project STARS, the Regional Irrigation Office No. 7 of the National Irrigation Administration, the Tagbilaran Maternal and Child Hospital as well as the opening of the One Town One Project Regional Fair of the Department of Trade and Industry.