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SOCA 2023: a breakdown of Mayor Dalipe’s promises to Zamboangueños

The young, vibrant, and visionary Zamboanga City Mayor John Dalipe has delivered his first State of the City Address (SOCA) in his seventh month into office as the local chief executive.

SOCA is an annual tradition in which the local chief executive reports to Sangguniang Panlungsod members and the general public on his accomplishments during the previous year [or months in office] as well as the plans, programs, and activities that his administration will pursue in the coming year. 

Mayor John Dalipe started off his speech by echoing central subjects he focused on through his years serving the people of the city, first as a member of the Sangguniang Kabataan, then as a barangay official, and going on to his stint in the city council, and now as a local chief executive. His major themes include economy, employment, and infrastructure.  

The Dalipe administration continuously battles the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic which is greatly felt in the education sector as students and teachers make major adjustments in learning and teaching. The Mayor however assured that his administration will ensure that the educational quality of the local schools rivals the nation’s top universities.

Mayor John Dalipe says: “The creation of new high schools in the city is of paramount importance to make certain that access to education is viable for all, and that Zamboangueños remain academically competitive in school and in the job market.”

Revitalizing the local economy, the local government unit has helped local businesses get back on their feet as it formalized four-night markets last year, benefitting at least 303 micro and small business enterprises.

Numerous job fairs were also conducted resulting in 11,966 applications, and 3,900 individuals finding employment. Moreover, 600 people benefitted from the Cash for Work Program.

The Dalipe administration institutionalized the Public Employment Service Office which will allow it to deliver its objectives with greater effectiveness and efficiency, and strengthen its employment programs and services. This move will further foster cooperation among industries, employers, and job seekers, opening more employment opportunities, partnerships, and collaborations.

Coupled with the economic advancement, the administration is doubling down on efforts to open new roads and build more bridges.

In conjunction with the efforts of District 2 Congressman Majority Leader Mannix Dalipe, several roads have been created and are now in use, and with District 1 representative Congressman Khymer Olaso, the LGU ensures the continuation of these projects for both districts.

“The first flyover project in Zamboanga City began construction in September last year and hopefully by the third quarter of next year, ay puede ya kita usa el first flyover, ese talyi na intersection de Governor Camins, Vetarans avenue, y MCLL Tetuan highway,” Mayor John says.

(Hopefully by the third quarter of the next year, we can already use the first flyover at the intersection of Governor Camins, Veterans Avenue, and MCLL Tetuan highway.)

Many more roads are in various stages of construction and planning to divert traffic from the city, and shorten travel time from the east coast to the west coast, and vice versa.

Alternative routes in and out of the city are being explored, with the objective of decongesting the central business districts. The LGU is in the process of moving the City Hall and other LGU offices outside the central business district in a bid to decentralize the services of the city. The local chief executive hopes this will be attained within his first term.

The long-awaited transfer of Zamboanga International Airport to Mercedes is now coming to reality, with 33 of the 342 landowners already having received payment from the city. The administration aims for at least 50% of the landowners to get paid this year, and fully purchase all 342 lots next year.

Mayor John says: “Ta desea yo na año 2025 principia ya el construccion del New Zamboanga International airport, y ojala na 2030, man takeoff ya kita na Nuevo Zamboanga International Airport.”

(I hope on 2025 the construction of the New Zamboanga International Airport will start so that in 2030 the first flight may already take off.)

The mayor thanks the City Planning and Development Office as well as the City Engineers for the creation of the Primary Development Cores in the city’s business district, and to the barangays of Ayala, Mercedes, Culianan and Sangali, as he promises to extend progress to all 98 barangays of the city.

The construction of the Mega Health Center in barangay Sangali which is now halfway to completion will give way to a better Health Care System in Sangali District. Plans are also underway for the creation of other Mega Health Centers in Manicahan and Talon-Talon, with the lots for this project already purchased by the city government.

In addition, two new high schools are in the works, with possible locations already scouted in Arena Blanco and Tumaga to augment to the need for more classrooms.

Moreover, Mayor John says the Investment Priorities Plan for calendar years 2023 to 2025 has already been signed.

To encourage the influx of investments into Zamboanga City, the LGU lowered the minimum investment cost from 10 million pesos to 3 million pesos and 1 million pesos for Agriculture, Agribusiness, and Fishery. Qualified investors will enjoy a business tax holiday and a 0% tax rate for real properties.

The administration is looking to other cities and countries like Japan, to duplicate their best practices in transportation and promises regular, dependable, and timely bus routes from the east and west coast going into the city soon. Currently, the LGU is in the process of exploring partnerships with ride apps to ensure the safety and fair pricing for commuters and commercial drivers alike.

The Mayor thanks his constituents for their cooperation in the enforcement of measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic as the City Health Office makes COVID vaccination more accessible to the people. Until now, the LGU has fixed-post-vaccination sites at health centers, malls, and night markets to increase vaccination and booster rates.

The city’s 5-kilo rice incentive for everyone getting their booster doses received an overwhelming response and may have helped prevent another surge in our city, averting the need for another lockdown.

This has translated to the maintenance of our night markets and revived our commercial industries, with the resumption of the vibrant nightlife our city, experienced pre-pandemic.

With the easing of the COVID-19 restrictions, the Pasonanca pools have since been reopened allowing Zamboangueños to make new memories for the younger generations.

The new administration has also implemented the Registry System for Basic Sector in Agriculture which resulted in the registration of over 6,700 farmers. This will help the LGU to address the needs of the farmers in the city.

Likewise, the city has subsidized the price of palay purchased from farmers, increasing the price paid to farmers from P19 per kilo to P24 pesos per kilo. The National Food Authority pays 19 pesos while the city pays for the additional 5 pesos per kilo of Palay. This is much higher than what they are paid in other cities.

For the hog raisers affected by the African Swine Fever, the City Veterinarian’s office has given out 2.25 million in cash assistance under the program Assistance in Crisis Situation of the City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO) and TUPAD program of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

In a lighter mode, for animal lovers, the city’s Veterinary Clinical and Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory are now under construction.

“I will continue being the mayor you can approach, the mayor you can talk to, and the mayor who will listen. I am the mayor who will prioritize the welfare of the people above all,” John Dalipe said.

The local chief executive envisions Zamboanga City becoming the benchmark for all other cities to aspire to. A city that will be ultramodern and at par with the major cities of the world, but still proudly grounded in its cultural diversity and natural bounty.

“I, John M. Dalipe, your mayor, continue to commit to my pledge of being a responsive, dynamic, and innovative leader while upholding the standard of being people-centered, environment-friendly, and transparent in everything I do.”

The Mayor calls for his people to work with him in raising Zamboanga City to greater heights. “

“With your help and with the grace of the Almighty, it can be done,” Mayor John Dalipe said. (NBE/EDT/CCP/PIA9)

About the Author

Clennkei Peñalosa

Information Officer

Region 9

Clennkei C. Peñalosa is a member of the Subanen Indigenous Cultural Communities/Indigenous Peoples (ICCs/IPs) who earn a Bachelor’s degree in Broadcasting at the Western Mindanao State University (WMSU) and is currently pursuing her Juris Doctor degree. A content creator and writer, she writes news and feature stories in Zamboanga Peninsula and manages PIA9's social media platforms.

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