“Bacolod City has, indeed come a long way after 75 years since then Assemblyman Pedro Hernaez of the second district of Negros Occidental sponsored the bill creating the City of Bacolod,” Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III yesterday said during the 75th Commemoration of the Signing of the Charter of the City of Bacolod.
Pimentel said that since the historic event when the Municipality of Bacolod was elevated into a city through Commonwealth Act 326 on June 18, 1838 – Bacolod City has steadily risen to become a dynamic, forward-looking metropolis that has since attracted lots of businesses that, in turn, have catalyzed economic development in this part of the country.
“That is why I was not surprised when Bacolod was recently ranked No. 1 in a survey by MoneySense Magazine as the ‘Best Place to Live in the Philippines’, and ranked third among the top 10 ‘Next Wave Cities in the Philippines’, according to a 2010 report of the Commission on Information Communications Technology,” he said.
Pimentel said “All these accolades bespeak of your people’s unwavering sense of community and selfless determination of your mayor, vice mayor and local officials to steer your city to progress.”
Bacolod Congressman-elect and Mayor Evelio Leonardia said that was the Act (Commonwealth Act No. 326) that catapulted Bacolod to what it is today.
Leonardia cited the booming call center industry in Bacolod which employs about 7,700 by now and is expected to increase further by 2016.
After having been recognized by the call center industry as being the best in terms of business environment, two weeks ago Bacolod was elevated to the status of “Center of Excellence”, he said.
This means that in the whole Philippines, there are only four cities that have been elevated to that status together with Metro Manila, Metro Cebu and Metro Clark, he added.
Leonardia also acknowledged the contributions made by the past mayors particularly former Mayors Oscar Verdeflor, Luzviminda Valdez and Rolando Villamor, who were present yesterday, as well as the taxpayers and employees of the city.
“I think Bacolod has started to move forward and is surging ahead. Bacolod will be unstoppable and definitely, it will always be one of the premier cities in the Philippines,” Leonardia said.
A bust of Hernandez donated by his family to the city government was installed yesterday at the Bacolod City Government Center.
Meanwhile, Pimentel said he had authored a number of bills with the hope to streamline the electoral process and ensure accessibility to Persons with Disabilities, senior citizens, oversees absentee voters, members of the media, and install an automated fingerprint identification system that would deter flying voters and other fraudulent voting schemes.
“I have pledged to make the revitalization of our local governments as one of my priorities in the next Congress,” he said, adding that he will continue the work of his father, the former Senate President Nene Pimentel, who was the leading advocate of local autonomy in Congress and the principal author of the Local Government Code of the Philippines.
Pimentel said he will seek a bigger Share in the National Taxes (SNT) for cities, towns and provinces, including Bacolod City, to speed up their economic growth, create jobs and deliver comprehensive social services.
“All these proposals are included in what is now popularly called the “Bigger Pie, Bigger Slice Bill,” which he has filed, he added.*CGS