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Joy takes oath; Quezon City gets top compliance mark from COA

Janvic Mateo - The Philippine Star
Joy takes oath; Quezon City gets top compliance mark from COA
Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte is joined by her family as she takes her oath before Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo during a swearing-in ceremony for city officials at the EVM Convention Center in Quezon City yesterday.
Jesse Bustos

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Audit (COA) did not find any irregularities in the utilization of the Quezon City government’s budget last year, Mayor Joy Belmonte announced yesterday.

Belmonte said the city government received an unqualified or unmodified opinion from the COA.

“I have received the COA report for 2021, and we get an unqualified opinion for the second consecutive year,” she said during her inaugural speech for her second term as the city’s chief executive.

“Ibig sabihin, naging malinis at walang bahid ng katiwalian ang ating pamamahala (That means that our governance has been clean and free of corruption),” she added.

According to the audit body, an unmodified or unqualified opinion is issued “when the auditor concludes that the financial statements are prepared, in all material respects, in accordance with the applicable financial reporting framework.”

Quezon City first received the assessment for the utilization of its 2020 budget.

Priorities

Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo administered the oath-taking of Belmonte, Vice Mayor Gian Sotto, six district representatives and members of the city council yesterday.

“Today we celebrate not just our recent triumph, but all of our achievements that we will build upon – together – in the next three years,” Belmonte said.

“When we began three years ago, we envisioned a government that does not only serve its people, but one that cares and provides for its over three million citizens, empowering them toward a better future,” she added.

For the next three years, Belmonte said she would focus on five major thrusts that will build upon the 14-point agenda that she unveiled in 2016.

First on her priority is to guarantee social services for all, vowing to increase the budget to ensure an inclusive social safety net for the marginalized and underprivileged sectors.

These include a social welfare program to provide monthly assistance to indigent seniors, solo parents and persons with disabilities; provision of more housing for informal settler families; improved health services and more scholarships.

“Quezon City is likewise poised to be the nation’s capital for people’s participation and inclusive governance. Our Quezon City People’s Council will push for the right of every individual to participate in policy-formulation, hands-on implementation and vigilant oversight, regardless of age, gender or industry,” Belmonte said.

“We will continue to pursue and celebrate acceptance, equality, inclusivity and diversity in our city,” she added, citing the Pride March held last Saturday at the Quezon Memorial Circle.

Also part of her five priorities is the continued digitization of public services.

“All these efforts are geared toward enhancing ease of doing business and eliminating corruption. Higher business confidence leads to jobs, higher productivity, increased labor demand and accelerated economic growth,” she said.

Green spaces, infrastructure

Belmonte also committed to sustainable environmental conservation efforts as she plans to rehabilitate more parks, expand bike lanes and create more pedestrian walkways.

“Amid the fast industrialization and modernization of public transport, we will grow trees and plants around bus stops and train stations. We will create more community pocket parks where people can leisurely spend time with their families and friends,” she said.

Belmonte also vowed to initiate programs and policies that are responsive to the issue of climate change.

Fourth on Belmonte’s list was the implementation of “high-caliber infrastructure projects that improve the standard of living in the city.”

Among those she cited were the free QC Bus System, improved internet connection, renovation of the Amoranto Sports Complex, development of the Payatas controlled disposal facility and the improvement of heritage and cultural sites.

Good governance

Taking off from COA’s latest audit report, Belmonte vowed to continue the good governance practices that she initiated during her first term.

“Corruption and inefficient service have been perceived as organic to city hall’s culture. This was a battle that we chose to wage, and our single-minded purpose was to ensure that no shortcuts and quick-fixes would ever derail us,” she said.

“Good governance is not something that you achieve and are done with. It is a continuing process that requires will and determination. We stay alert and stand firm, here and now, in our commitment, and will exert every effort in the days to come to improve upon our hard-won gains,” she added.

Belmonte was accompanied by her family, including her father, former speaker and Quezon City mayor Feliciano Belmonte Jr.

Outgoing Senate President and former Quezon City vice mayor Vicente Sotto III joined Gian and other members of his family during the latter’s oath-taking.

Elected Quezon City representatives were Arjo Atayde (District 1), Ralph Tulfo Jr. (District 2), Franz Pumaren (District 3), Marvin Rillo (District 4) PM Vargas (District 5) and Marivic Co-Pilar (District 6).

Elected councilors were: District 1: Bernard Herrera, TJ Calalay, Dorothy Delarmente, Joseph Juico, Nikki Crisologo and Charm Ferrer.

District 2: Mikey Belmonte, Eden Delilah Medina-Atienza, Aly Medalla, Dave Valmocina, Rannie Ludovica and Godie Liban.

District 3: Kate Coseteng-Galang, Geleen Lumbad, Chuckie Antonio, Don de Leon, Wency Lagumbay and Anton Reyes.

District 4: Edgar Yap, Imee Rillo, Raquel Malañgen, Irene Belmonte, Nanette Daza and Marra Suntay.

District 5: Joseph Joe Visaya, Alfred Vargas, Ram Medalla, Shaira Liban, Aiko Melendez and Mutya Castelo.

District 6: Ellie Juan, Kristine Alexia Matias, Eric Medina, Banjo Pilar, Vito Sotto Generoso and Victor Bernardo.

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