SAN FERNANDO CITY, La Union – The provincial government of La Union has inaugurated its PHP280 million worth convention center at Barangay Sevilla in this city.
The three-story Multi-Purpose building has a total floor area of 2,000 square meters that can accommodate up to 1,500 people, the provincial government said in a statement on Wednesday.
The project was funded by the Department of Public Works and Highways through the National Building Program.
“The La Union Convention Center features a unique architectural and aesthetic design inspired by a surfboard, one of La Union’s icons, being a surfing destination in the North. Expected to boost economic growth and the tourism sector of the province,” it stated.
The convention center will provide a venue for special events and large gatherings such as training, meetings, seminars, exhibits, conventions, and tradeshows that will not only cater to locals but also attract visitors from different parts of the country.
“The construction of the infrastructure project began in the year 2015 during the term of then La Union first district Representative Victor Francisco Ortega, who was the brainchild of the project and succeeded by former first district Representative Pablo Ortega until its completion this year under first district Representative Francisco Paolo Ortega V,” it added.
Governor Raphaelle Veronica Ortega-David held her first State of the Nation Address at the convention center during its inauguration last Aug. 7.
“People-centered and driven governance is our call to action and unwavering commitment to placing the needs and aspirations and well-being of our citizens at the forefront of our decision-making. Throughout history we have seen and continue to witness wherein power is in the hands of the few where the voices of the marginalized have been and are silenced,” she said.
David reported that La Union remains one of the least poor provinces of the country and the 11th most competitive province in the country as of 2022.
“Poverty incidence is at 6.6 among families, according to the Family Income and Expenditure Survey of Philippine Statistics Authority,” she said.
She added that the province has a zero Commission on Audit suspension and disallowance.
David said La Union was chosen as the only local government unit (LGU) in the Ilocos Region out of 21 provinces in the country for implementation of the LGU Reform Project of the Department of Finance.
“It aims to improve LGU’s revenue mobilization. Build the capacity of LGU to deliver public service and strengthen local government performance,” she said about the project.
Since her administration is anchored on people-centered and driven governance, the provincial government established a customer feedback system and a complaints desk.
They also have the 33 in-house information and communications technology system to empower the citizenry with accurate and relevant information and to keep citizens updated with relevant news.
“We are the first province in northern Luzon to partner with GCash to expand the payment platform. We dream of wire-free streets downtown as we explore the underground cabling of our province,” she said.
David said the provincial government has institutionalized the Annual Youth TAOID Camp peer-to-peer facilitation program, a campaign for human immunodeficiency virus acquired immunodeficiency syndrome awareness and screening tests, and the province’s Youth Development Council and Elyulympics, sports competition.
Women empowerment is recognized and acknowledged in La Union as David is the first woman governor of the province.
La Union is also the first to implement the menstrual leave privilege for its employees and even provides menstrual kits in every department.
David said over 10,000 individuals prioritizing those in geographically isolated areas (GIDA) villages in the free medical and dental outreach program.
She said the five district hospitals have ISO certifications and the Rosario and Naguilian district hospitals’ bed capacity has been increased from 25 to 50 while an additional PHP200 million was allotted for the implementation and maintenance of the hospitals.
She added the provincial government aims to provide barangay health stations prioritizing GIDA villages.
The LGU has also provided PHP300,000 in financial assistance to persons with disabilities group and some PHP18.3 million to the nonagenarians and centenarians in the province.
David said they have also signed an agreement with the Department of Social Welfare and Development to formalize the establishment of a home for the elderly.
In tourism, the province recorded 494,387 tourist arrivals in 2022 and the revenue increased by 315.21 percent from 2021 to 2022 and is expected to be surpassed this year as they have already 308,309 tourist arrivals only in the first semester of 2023.
“We have won six Pearl Awards for Best Tourism Practices and the Philippine Tourism Excellence Award,” she said.
The Pasalubong Center also benefited as its revenue grew by 600 percent in sales, from PHP553,460 from January to June 2022 to PHP3.9 million on the same period this year.
This was attributed to the return of the La Union surfing break following its hiatus during the outbreak of the pandemic and the holding of the World Surfing League.
She added that the La Union Tourism Summit will also return in September this year.
David thanked President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. for the PHP15 million cash assistance and generator sets following the devastation brought by Super Typhoon Egay in the province.
She also said the province is one of the beneficiaries of the Pambansang Pabahay ng Pangulo, a flagship program of the Marcos administration.
David said a draft ordinance on the Mandatory Registration of Poultry and Livestock Raisers and Farm Owners is underway to protect and boost agriculture particularly the poultry and livestock in the province.
“With this initiative, we will be able to closely monitor stakeholders and provide assistance (when needed),” she said.
The province is also enforcing Provincial Resolution 342-2023 or the Single-Use Plastics and Other Reusable and Disposable Materials Code.
David said the 59.5-kilometer Tarlac Pangasinan La Union Expressway extension project from Rosario to San Juan has already been approved and is expected to promote growth and provide livelihood to the residents.
She added that a sports complex will soon rise in San Fernando City while the San Fernando City Airport Terminal connecting to the islands of Visayas and Mindanao is being lobbied by the provincial government. (PNA)