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INAUGURAL SPEECH OF GOVERNOR CARLOS O. FORTICH
Provincial Capitol of Bukidnon, June 30, 1998

Having been elected and re-elected three times, this is the 6th instant that I have taken my oath of office as Governor of our beloved province of Bukidnon. In view of this circumstance, there is not much need for an extended rationalization and statement of directions compared to the previous occasions. Then, a more elaborate presentation on the initiatives to be undertaken was more meaningful and appropriate.

Let me assure you, however, that I do not wish to abuse your approval of the development initiatives that the province pursued under my stewardship. It has never been my intention to deprive you of the opportunity to be informed of the focus of our concern in the ensuing three years. I fully subscribed to the truism that in a republican government, such as ours, authority emanates from the people, and therefore, the people deserve no less than a preview of the program of administration at the start of each term.

Allow me at the outset to refresh your memories.

On the same occasion three decades ago, on January 1, 1968 to be precise, when I took the same Oath of Office, anxiety merged with excitement, as expectations mixed with apprehension. Reasonable concern whether I can give justice to the trust reposed on me.

Like today, it was with the same feelings of humility and sense of destiny that I took that oath knowing that such twist of fate or fortune would change forever my life and that of our family. Our province then was at a surge of population growth, above 3% annually which showed no indication of abatement. Settlers and migrants from all parts of the nation came to our province.

Meeting the demand for public service increased tremendously that even today, people and communities have become the focus of our attention. Our efforts then were recognized by the national government when, in 1968, I was awarded the prestigious "Order of the Fighting Cock". As one of the Top Ten Outstanding Governors for Community Development. And in 1970 I was a Presidential Awardee of the "Golden Bahay Kubo" for Most Outstanding Governor of the Philippines.

From less than two hundred thousand, during those years, our population did not simply grow but multiplied five times, to over a million today: a testimony of our enduring capacity to manage people.. With only 15 municipalities, during my first term as governor, we have now 21 and Malaybalay, the capital town has successfully converted into a city.

From an obscure province, known for its cattle herd more than its people, today, the sons and daughters of the natives and early settlers are citizens of the world, practicing their professions in such faraway lands as the U.S., Europe, Middle East, Asia and Oceania. Controlling respectable estates and wielding economic; social; and political influence.

Our province is a major and reliable agricultural producer. By operating budgets, we are classified as a first class province, recognized not only in national but in international circles.

We are thankful that over the years our Almighty Father has spared us the trials of devastating and ruinous impact of severe natural calamities. But beyond the amiable climate and circumstance that we enjoyed over the years, we experienced the least social, political and economic turmoil compared to other provinces. Yes, we are blessed, for we were able to breathe life or animate what other regions could only wish for: unity in diversity. We opted and endeavored to maintain our integrity as a province.

Steering the affairs of the provincial government for over a quarter of a century of feverish economic and population expansion was a consuming challenge and a rewarding experience, which me and my family will cherish. A lifetime adventure, so to speak, which is well worth a hundred times the economic opportunities my family has given up to secure an unblemished record of public service and thus, we were able to sustain our stature on a firm moral high ground, a fundamental necessity for effective governance.

Now as I commence to serve my 3rd term of office under the 1987 Constitution, and hope to complete 24 years as governor of Bukidnon, I shall commit to pursue the same programs which are relevant and necessary for our continued progress and development.

These are: Peace & Order; Improvement of Local Government Administration; Agriculture & Livelihood Opportunities: accessibility to several sections of the province; Health, Education & Welfare; and, Environment. These programs have earned for us numerous awards and recognition to include the prestigious title as the Most Outstanding Province of the Philippines for the year 1997. In a fitting and colorful ceremony at the Luneta, the President of the Philippines presented to us the much coveted "Gawad Ng Lahi Pamana Award" with a token amount of two million pesos as recognition of this outstanding feat of accomplishment.

Mindful that I am personally accountable to the people, let me state that the successful implementation of the specific programs in pursuance of the foregoing objectives has not been, or cannot be accomplished, by the Office of the Provincial Governor alone. Neither can they be pursued solely by the government agencies operating in our province. They demand that all of us, we in government and those in the private sector, must share in the overall endeavor to improve the quality of our lives.

To make this work, it is necessary that we establish a framework within which we can effectively and efficiently coordinate our efforts:

The practice of productive cooperation between the office of the Provincial Governor and that of the Sangguniang Panglalawigan shall be enhanced. Constructively practiced we can be assured that the agreed course of action gets the support of all stakeholders of our growth and development.

We shall take a closer examination of our Provincial Government Structure so that measures can be undertaken to make our organization and our civil servants become more responsive and effective in the performance of their duties and responsibilities.

We will take advantage of the strengths of local government units and government agencies. This pertain to concerns such as management of infrastructures; rural water works project under our health for all program; nutrition intervention schemes; education, health and access to health care programs; populations management; Agriculture and Environment Initiatives, to cite a few areas of priority action.

Our inter agency relationship shall be nurtured to become an effective linkage that will make the entire government machinery truly responsive to the service demands of our people.

A critical concern is our peace and order situation. While we enjoy a relative peace and tranquility compared to our neighbors there is still a big room for improvement.

Then we have to take a hard look and initiate efforts to improve the enforcement of traffic laws especially in the highways. Our people may be committing certain infractions in the use of public thoroughfares, but they do not deserve death penalty.

Truth and justice shall never be sacrificed for social expediency. The rights of our people to secure their property must be protected. This is particularly important when one assesses an agrarian reform problem. It is only in addressing the fundamental issues of land tenurial conflicts that enduring solutions can be attained. In this light we are able to support the development aspirations of our people and at the same time sustain our agricultural productivity.

We shall make use of the growing local expertise to help us implement programs most expediently and at the least cost. We shall support activities which promote private sector participation especially in tourism and tourism related activities; entrepreneurial, and intermediate industrial development.

The demand for energy increases in direct relation to our expanding economy, thus, one after another, the five major rivers in Mindanao that emanate from our province are harnessed for hydro-electric power plants. Our natural resource is fast becoming an economic resource. Franchise tax from power generation and our share of national wealth utilization will one day surpass the income derived from property taxes. But, notwithstanding the economic benefits that our province may derive, it behooves upon all of us to preserve our environment and promote ecology.

We are fortunate that we enter the next millenium with a major intervention scheme under the integrated area development approach. This will certainly accelerate the over all growth of the province. Spanning a period of seven years, project components valued at Five Hundred Twenty Million Pesos shall be undertaken in the central and northern sections of the province.

During the same period an equitable amount will be invested in the central and southern section of the province, estimated to be over Seven hundred million pesos. But, beyond the financial figures, our capability as project executing agency is put to test. A successful implementation will hasten the realization of that vision of a Bukidnon, "to be an agriculturally based industrial center with an optimally developed agricultural economy and ecologically balanced environment".

To secure these initiatives and thereby attain the objectives we have set to accomplish for us, our people, it is imperative that we maintain the integrity of the Province.

For it is only in this state that we can effectively answer the call for delivery of basic services. We don't have to look far. Our experience in the last quarter of the century is proof enough in the strength and stability of being united as one province.

To end this address, allow me and my family to thank you for your renewed trust and confidence in allowing me to administer the province for the next three years. In behalf of the members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan headed by the Honorable Provincial Vice Governor, Nemesio G. Beltran, who also took their oaths of office with me, permit me to express our collective appreciation for recognizing the relevance of our efforts in managing our province, by electing us to office.

With no other intention but to pursue the greatest good for the greater number of our people, and, in complete submission to the will of the Almighty, who presides over the destinies of men and nations, let this occasion be a celebration of life; and, a prayer for strength and wisdom that we become instruments of the goodness of our Creator.

Again, thank you and good morning to all.

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