GOV. ALBERT GARCIA
Governor Albert Garcia tells us how he is leading the historic province of Bataan towards unity and progress
BY AVI CANALE
PHOTOGRAPHY BY ROMEO PERALTA, JR.
Remembered in history as the place where the last stand was made by Filipino and American soldiers who fought the Japanese Imperial forces during the Second World War, Bataan has courageously risen from that fall.
Unstoppable in terms of progress and development, the province is set to continue to move up and sail towards a better future for its people. But for progress to take place, it requires the cooperation of every citizen.
The strength of a community is dependent on the unity of its members. That is why, in order to promote progress, the Provincial Government of Bataan developed the concept of 1Bataan. Through 1Bataan, the government, private sector, religion, academe, workers, fishermen, farmers can unite in pushing the development of the province forward. “That is the call for everyone to unite, to work together, to create a better province for everyone. That is 1Bataan,” says the province’s hardworking governor Albert Garcia.
PROMOTING QUALITY LIFE
In the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) data, Bataan has the lowest poverty incidence in the country at 1.6%. This was not achieved at a snap of a finger, but through hard work, calculated decisions and proper planning.
The key to decreasing poverty, according to Governor Garcia, is economic growth and economic growth is fueled by investment. But BATAAN, STANDING TALL AND PROUD BY AVI CANALE PHOTOGRAPHY BY ROMEO PERALTA, JR. Governor Albert Garcia tells us how he is leading the historic province of Bataan towards unity and progress Bataan Gov. Abet Garcia with the veterans. Bataan Gov. Abet Garcia during the Police Service Anniversary commercial establishments, banks, cinema, Business Processing Outsourcing offices, a hotel and condominium building.
The establishment and operation of the Agriculture Innovation and Technology Center (AITC) is another PPP worth noting. Commencing soon is a partnership with an Israeli company on precision farming.
This will help farmers manage their land properly and increase crop production. DRIVERS OF GROWTH The first economic zone in Philippines was opened in Mariveles, Bataan in the early 1970s (Bataan Export Processing Zone or BEPZ), designed to contribute to the economic growth of the country. But due to numerous factors, development in the area idled and declined rapidly over the years.
The once ecozone looked like a “ghost town,” until efforts were made to revive and redevelop the place and convert it into a productive freeport zone. Bataan is host to two freeports and several economic zones, which are the drivers of growth for the province besides the typical industries of fishing, farming, and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
These zones provide generous fiscal and non-fiscal incentives, inviting numerous manufacturing, light, medium and heavy industries, and in turn, produce jobs all-around the Bataan Peninsula. “We have Subic, which is a freeport, 70% of which is Bataan. We have the fastest growing freeport in the country which is FAB (Freeport Area of Bataan). And within, we have the Hermosa Economic Zone, Morong Economic Zone, TEZ Flagship Project of Mt. Samat, PNOC Industrial Park, Government Arsenal which we’re converting into a defense economic zone, the IT parks and the commercial establishments in Balanga and Abucay, plus the tourism belt in Morong, Bagac, and Bagac-Mariveles,” says Governor Garcia of the industries that bring growth and generate jobs for the Bataeños.
The new Bataan Provincial Capitol compound is the provincial government’s “Bunker” building, designed to pay tribute to the WWII heroes of Bataan. to attract investments, one should create an environment that is conducive to do business. Bataan strived to achieve this and in 2018, the province bagged the Most Business-Friendly LGU award given by Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI). “If you want to grow your economy, you have to be business-friendly.
Create an environment that is conducive for business to invest, domestic or foreign,” says Governor Garcia. The provincial government worked hard to improve the peace and order situation, provide better educational institutions and health service, infrastructure, and promote ease of doing business. In turn, this has resulted to more investments and businesses coming in to Bataan and producing more jobs for the people. For Governor Garcia, one of the best things a public servant could do is give people an opportunity to have a livelihood.
With a stable source of income, they are able to support their families, become less dependent on government assistance and they can live better lives, thus, eliminating a big percentage of the poverty problem. With the many opportunities opening in Bataan, the province has also experienced families migrating back to Bataan, not only from Manila but also from abroad. “We see people coming back and getting employment here in Bataan. They prefer to stay here instead of working as an OFW.”