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Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte made a case for herself and her city government’s anti-coronavirus efforts in her third state of the city address on Monday, October 25, months before she vies for a second term in the 2022 elections.
Most notably, Belmonte boasted about city hall’s COVID-19 vaccination drive. As of October 24, the Philippines’ most populous city has fully inoculated 1.67 million individuals, or 98% of its target population.
“At the peak of our vaccination program, we vaccinated 55,000 people in 40 vaccination sites in one day,” Belmonte said. “This record remains unbeatable in the country to this day.”
“The vaccination program was a learning process, a work in progress. We tweaked it multiple times, and resolved setbacks,” Belmonte added in Filipino, acknowledging past issues such as a glitchy website that the city government eventually dumped.
Belmonte also vouched for ramped up community-based testing and contact tracing, as well as, the capability of the city government to quarantine over 1,700 suspect COVID-19 patients at a given time through its 12 HOPE community caring facilities.
On efforts to provide supplemental aid to residents, Belmonte pointed out that 28,000 displaced workers were given a one-time financial assistance of P2,000, while 3,070 small businesses benefited from its stimulus package program.
Increased transparency in city hall
Belmonte touted her city hall’s efforts to fight corruption, saying Quezon City was able to save P897 million after terminating deficient contracts from the past administration.
She also asserted the city has become more transparent in how it uses its funds, with the help of the Internal Audit Service that it created.
“Ang lahat ng ating paghihigpit ang naging pinakamabisang bakuna kontra sa pandemya ng katiwalian (Our strict rules are the most effective vaccine against the pandemic of corruption),” Belmonte said.
The veteran local politician, who hopes to secure a second term as city mayor in 2022, also took an apparent swipe on her 2022 mayoral race rival, Anakalusugan Representative Mike Defensor, over the issue of a supposed land tax hike.
Defensor vowed to stop any increase in land taxes if elected mayor, but the Belmonte camp insisted there was no hike in the first place during her term.
“Para sa impormasyon ng hindi nakakaintindi, hindi po ibig sabihin na tumataas ang buwis ng Quezon City. Lumawak lang po ang tax base natin dahil na-identify natin ang ating properties,” Belmonte said, after underscoring the enhanced tax mapping in the city. “Basa-basa lang kung pwede.”
(For the information of those who do not understand, it does not mean that the taxes in QC are increasing. Our tax base is expanding because we identified our properties. It does not hurt to read sometimes.)
Belmonte also slammed “fault-finding” detractors against city hall.
“Sa mga miron na mahilig lamang mamintas o maghanap ng butas, alamin po n’yo ang kwento ng buwis-buhay na pagmamalasakit ng Team Quezon City,” Belmonte said.
(To detractors who have no other job but to find faults in our governance, please know the huge efforts that Team Quezon City takes all the time.)
Defensor has spent the last few months criticizing Belmonte’s anti-COVID-19 measures. In particular, his camp has repeatedly raised the alleged procurement of overpriced food packs by the Belmonte administration during the pandemic.
The Belmonte camp dismissed the allegation as black propaganda, and insisted that the rivals’ computation of grocery items in question was oversimplified and malicious.
On Monday, the incumbent local chief executive also underscored the Commission on Audit’s “unmodified opinion” on its financial records.
“Nagawa nating bantayan ang kaban ng bayan kahit may umiiral na krisis,” Belmonte said. “Tiniyak na natin na mayroong istruktura ng pagbabantay, may istriktong alituntunin, at mga tapat na opisyal na mahigpit na tututok para masigurong tapat ang inyong gobyerno.”
(We were able to safeguard the city’s coffers despite the raging health crisis. There is a structure on vigilance, strict guidelines, and honest officials who make sure that your government is trustworthy.)
Aside from Belmonte, Quezon City Vice Mayor Gian Sotto also spoke during Monday’s State of the City Address, detailing the accomplishments of the city council. Also present in the event was Senate President Vicente Sotto III. – Rappler.com