LEAVING a debt-free Davao City, Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (CMD) vice presidential candidate Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte on Thursday bade her city and constituents goodbye “for a bigger challenge… for our beloved country.”
Duterte made the remarks in the recorded impassioned valedictory and State of the City Address (SOCA).
Duterte recalled that in 2016, after a brief respite from politics, “I was once again called to take on the challenge to serve Davao City as mayor that year. It was the same year when the Philippines elected Davao’s beloved mayor, Rodrigo Duterte, to the presidency.”
“My 2016 return to City Hall allowed me to revisit the first time you confidently elected me to become your mayor in 2010. It was a victory that is now known as the biggest election landslide victory in the history of our city,” Duterte said.
She said it was also the first time the city elected a woman as its mayor.
“They say it’s hard for us to break the glass ceiling – but in Davao City, where we say ‘Life is Here’, we have been breaking that glass ceiling all this time. When I was elected as the youngest and the only woman as mayor of our city, it was a historic moment not only for me, but for every Dabawenya who dared, worked hard, and succeeded,” she said.
Duterte added that hard work is the secret ingredient to success.
“Because of hard work, we are where we are now. Because of hard work, we were able to overcome tumultuous times. Because of hard work, we will be able to have hundreds of reasons to celebrate,” Duterte stressed.
Duterte then enumerated the numerous successes and accomplishments the city, together with other government agencies, the police, and the military, and its people have achieved, and the programs and projects they have implemented.
“Let us make this day a day of celebration of the victories that we have made after we started our nearly 6 years journey – a journey we called “Byaheng Do30”, where we identified 10 priority areas of development,” she told her constituents.
The 10 priority areas are education, health, poverty alleviation, infrastructure development, solid waste management and environment, agriculture, investment and tourism, transportation planning and traffic management, disaster risk reduction and mitigation, and peace and order.
“However, today, allow me to formally – and with a heavy heart – say farewell… I have been called to join the race for a bigger challenge. This is a challenge that gives me the opportunity to spread my wings wider, to soar higher, and reach new heights – with the support of our fellow Filipinos – for our beloved country,” Duterte said.
“I leave you with a city buoyed by a stronger economy, a stronger citizenry, with programs and services institutionalized to ensure continuity – a city that has so much more potential for greatness.
And I am confident that whoever will lead the city in the coming months will be able to sustain, if not surpass, what we have achieved, and take Davao City even higher,” Duterte said.
Duterte thanked all Dabawenyos, telling them, “Your patience in letting me grow from a shy neophyte in 2007 to a confident leader today is a gift, not all public servants are lucky enough to receive. You gave me wings and you taught me how to fly. Your love made me who I am today.”
As she faced challenges ahead, she said she is inspired by the “indomitable spirit of the Dabawenyos – young and old, rich and the needy, men and women – who refused to give up and surrender to anything that comes our way to stop us from achieving our dreams.”
Duterte thanked her family “for the never-ending support,” as well as officials of the city and other agencies she has worked with, the private sector, sectoral groups, the diplomatic community, the police and military, and her constituents.
“Dabawenyos desire the best and serving you is like serving a god that can never be pleased. My work gave me nightmares and mental anguish but it’s been an honor – a great, great honor – to have been chosen by you. And it’s been a pleasure to make not only memories with you – but also history,” Duterte said.
The newest Pulse Asia survey showed that 6 weeks (excluding Holy Week) before the May 9 elections, the Lakas-CMD vice presidential candidate had a voter preference of 53%.
Her UniTeam standard-bearer, former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. (BBM) was chosen by 60%.
In her State of the City Address, Mayor Sara said the city government received 118 awards and citations for its efforts in various facets of governance and service from 2016 to 2021.
“These accomplishments were not achieved overnight; these were the product of decades worth of hard work – the hard work not only of the local government but of every honest, disciplined, responsible Dabawenyo doing his best to provide for his family,” she said.
A DEBT-FREE DAVAO CITY AS ONE OF THE COUNTRY’S BEST CITIES
Duterte said Davao City has emerged as one of the best cities in the country today.
“We achieved this by focusing our energies and resources on key areas that are integral to the growth of our city and the empowerment of the Dabawenyo. We directed our efforts to build more infrastructure, enhance our revenue generation efforts, strengthen our security and improve the delivery of our social services, while also continuously learning, embarking on business and tourism missions, and forging partnerships with other Philippine cities and localities abroad,” Duterte said.
Last December, the National Competitiveness Council (NCC) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) named Davao City the 4th Most Competitive Highly Urbanized City in the 2021 Cities and Municipalities Competitiveness Index (CMCI) – the highest ranking of any city outside of the National Capital Region (NCR).
It has remained in the Top 5 list since 2015. It has also been regularly recognized by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) with the Seal of Good Local Governance and the Seal of Good Financial Housekeeping.
Davao City is also the 8th richest city in the country in 2020 with total assets amounting to P23 billion, according to the 2020 Annual Financial Report released by the Commission on Audit (COA) on 22 December 2021.
The city has likewise been recognized as among the top-performing local government units (LGU) by the Bureau of Local Government Finance (BLGF) of the Department of Finance (DOF) yearly since 2017.
“For 2021, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Davao City had a total combined revenue of P10.4 billion, 39.8% higher than our pre-pandemic revenues. Of this amount, P4.4 billion was generated by local sources,” Duterte reported.
Duterte said the city government obtained loans to finance major projects for the development of the city.
“As we continue to implement the projects, we have also been allocating ample budget every year to diligently pay back our loans. This year, we have allocated P46.7 million in the 2022 budget to cover the remaining loan balance, and by the end of the first half of Calendar Year 2022, Davao City will be debt-free,” Duterte said.
From 2016 to 2021, she said the city government spent a total of P8.2 billion pesos from its annual development fund for both infrastructure and non-infrastructure projects.
“We completed over 3,000 infrastructure projects, including 1,424 roads, 51 bridges, 180 school buildings, 63 office buildings, 44 barangay halls, 84 health centers, 9 police stations, 748 irrigation and canal projects, 172 water systems, 11 electrification projects, and 669 other structures,” Duterte added.
“Our Byaheng Do30 journey has not been without the unnecessary interruptions and difficult stops. There were roadblocks after roadblocks after roadblocks – the COVID-19 pandemic the greatest among them,” Duterte said.
Such obstacles also included the peace and order problem in the Pacquibato district, which she said is now “insurgency-free”.
“These are bitter reminders of the tough times that we went through together as a people. But at the same time, they also allow us to remember always our humanity and our relentless collective pursuit for justice, (for) peace, for development. And our job as your elected leaders is to ensure that we live in a place where there is justice, there is peace, there is development,” Duterte stressed.