Honorable City Vice Mayor Hadji Abdullah Andang, honorable members of the Sangguniang Panlungsod, department heads, fellow workers in government, distinguished guests, fellow Cotabateños, good morning and happy new year!
The year 2014 was, indeed, a very fruitful year for Cotabato City. We were adjudged as one of the Top 3 Business-Friendly City in the country by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
We were among the Top 50 Highly-Competitive Local Government Unit in the country, and nominated as among the Top 20 Child-Friendly City in the country.
For now, we are awaiting the result of the annual DILG Seal of Good Governance award wherein we are among those nominated. We have already been accorded the Seal of Good Housekeeping for two consecutive years, bronze and silver category.
The year 2014 also saw the influx of more investments in Cotabato City. We are expecting more investments to be coming in this year.
More investments mean more jobs and improvement in the quality of life of our people.
But this also comes with a price.
Just like any growing urban center, we also have to tackle the problem of criminality.
We are very thankful and I would like to commend the Cotabato City Police Office, the 5th Special Forces Battalion and all other law enforcement agencies for their unrelenting effort to keep our city safe.
During the Christmas season, in our desire to ensure the safety of our people, I signed Executive Order 130 prohibiting the use of firecrackers.
I would like to thank our fellow Cotabateños who heeded our call and did not use firecrackers. But, still there were some who were defiant.
Reports from the Department of Health said that there were six firecracker-related injuries and one hit by a stray bullet in the city.
There really is a need to put a stop to these very dangerous practices of using firecrackers and firing guns during festivities.
Along this line, I would like to request the Sangguniang Panlungsod for the passage of an ordinance to totally ban the sale and use of all forms of firecrackers, including the so-called "boga-boga" and improvised cannons, in Cotabato City.
We can celebrate any festivity, including the welcoming of the New Year, without necessarily using firecrackers and guns. The safety of each and everyone should always be our paramount concern.
Another reason for the banning of the use of firecrackers is the spate of bombings lately that happened in the Province of North Cotabato. The latest of which was last December 31 in Mlang.
If you remember the bus bombing in Bukidnon last month, police reports identified the suspect as a certain Dautin Gendang who was also responsible in the August 5, 2013 bombing here in Cotabato City.
In view of this, I would like to request the Cotabato City Police Office to distribute and post in all business establishments and schools the pictures of these suspected bombers in order for our people to know and be aware of.
On the aspect of road safety and discipline, I also would like to request the Sangguniang Panlungsod for the passage of an Anti-Jaywalking Ordinance.
The DPWH has been painting pedestrian lanes but, it seems that, nobody gives importance to it.
These pedestrian lanes were not placed there to become just a decoration. They are there for a purpose and that is to protect the pedestrians.
Thus, there is a need to pass an ordinance to this effect. The ordinance shall also penalize motorists who would disregard these pedestrian lanes.
Another priority for us this 2015 is the full implementation of Republic Act 8749, otherwise known as the Clean Air Act of 1999, most especially its provision which prohibits the use of two-stroke motorcycle engines.
We have more or less 600 tricycles in the city using two-stroke engines which are already banned under the Clean Air Act.
The Department of Health and even the World Health Organization had been compelling local government units about the full implementation of the Clean Air Act in view of the health hazards brought by these two-stroke engines.
We have to protect the health of our people and not be cited for not implementing the Clean Air Act.
I am now ordering the CMO Transport and Traffic Management Division to sit down with the PNP Traffic Management Unit and the Land Transportation Office for the purpose of drawing up a phase out plan for these two-stroke engines.
I am expecting this phase out plan to be submitted to my office not later than the end of February so that we can forward the same to the Sangguniang Panlungsod for appropriate legislation.
Moreover, I am also ordering the CMO Transport and Traffic Management Division to coordinate with the Land Transportation Office, the PNP Highway Patrol Group and the Cotabato City Police Office regarding the proliferation of vehicles with no license plates in the city.
Likewise, I would like to reiterate our request for the tricycles of Sultan Kudarat town to look for a space where they could establish a terminal. It is a fact that their illegal use of the city streets as their terminal is adding to the traffic problem.
It is in this regard that I am reminding the CMO Transport and Traffic Management Division of what was agreed in the series of dialogues we had with the SK tricycles.
I would like to take this opportunity to commend the Traffic Management Unit of the Cotabato City Police Office on their campaign against open-pipe motorcycles.
This 2015, I urge them to be more aggressive, including motorcycle drag racing which are being done at midnight. I know that the 5th Special Forces Battalion is more than willing to assist you on this.
Speaking of putting things in order, I would like to remind all vendors of their obligation of keeping their premises clean.
We will not hesitate to revoke their business permit if they cannot keep their premises clean.
Meanwhile, I also would like to remind the Technical Working Group tasked to review our Local Revenue Code to have their proposal completed before the end of February 2015. The same thing is true with the TWG on the nationalization of roads.
We really have to move fast on these matters in the face of the entry of more investments to our city this year.
Also this year, we will be accelerating and be pushing hard our drive against video karera.
I am ordering all the barangay officials to be firm on this. They should actively assist the Cotabato City Police Office in finally eradicating video karera in our city.
The same thing is true with our war against prohibited drugs. I will not hesitate to use the full force of the law against any barangay official, including city government officials and employees, who are involved in the illegal drugs trade.
The city government will put up a rewards system for anybody who could give information that would lead to the arrest of people involved in video karera and illegal drugs. I will assure strict confidentiality in handling the information, including the identity of the informants.
Let us all be united in this. If you care about the future of the next generation, I urge you to join me in this fight.
I am also urging each and everyone to do their share in keeping our city safe, clean and beautiful.
Bilang Cotabateño, mas higit ang ating responsibilidad na pangalagaan ang ating lungsod laban sa mga taong nagnanais na sirain ang katahimikan at kaayusan nito. Mga taong walang hangad kundi ang kumita ng malaking pera kapalit ng kinabukasan ng ating mga kabataan.
In closing, I would like to thank all the officials and employees of the City Government of Cotabato, including the barangay officials, for your untiring support and cooperation.
I also would like to thank the business community, the academe, the religious leaders, the various civil society organizations, non-government organizations and people's organization who continue to contribute for the welfare of the people of Cotabato City.
Maraming maraming salamat sa inyong lahat.