Mayor Joy Belmonte’s first year at the helm of Quezon City was highlighted by various trials, as well as triumphs for Metro Manila’s largest city. Throughout this, Belmonte said that her administration has never lost track, and remained focused on working for the welfare of her constituents, as well as strengthening businesses and communities.
A few months into her first term in 2019, Belmonte was able to effectively deal with the emergence of African Swine Fever (ASF) in the city, as the deadly disease swept throughout the country and crippled the livestock industry. “Mabilis nating na-kontrol ang sakit na ito, at nakapagbigay tayo ng financial assistance sa mga apektadong hog raiser,” she said.
In the early months of 2020, the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic swept across the world, causing ripple effects across all sectors of society. In Metro Manila, Quezon City was the first local government to declare a state of calamity before enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) was placed in Luzon and in other parts of the country. With Mayor Joy Belmonte’s decisive action, the city’s 142 barangays were able to immediately address the needs of its citizens through their Quick Response Fund.
Belmonte said the city earmarked almost P7 billion for food packs, cash aid and other forms of assistance under its COVID Response program. “Kabilang na dito ang ‘Kalingang QC ‘ para sa ating vulnerable sectors katulad ng senior citizens, persons with disability, solo parents, lactating mothers, transport sector workers at market vendors.”
“The city also came up with its own Social Amelioration Program (SAP) for those who were excluded from the national government’s SAP program, and provided food assistance to residents of areas under special concern lockdown areas,” emphasized Belmonte.
The local government also allotted funds for decontamination efforts, accommodations, equipment, hazard pay for frontliners and test kits, quarantine facilities and hygiene kits for COVID-19 patients, and additional equipment for city-run hospitals. As the city adjusts to the new normal, the local government has crafted a comprehensive recovery plan, including the allocation of P2.9 billion for blended learning in public schools and universities in the city and stimulus packages to support the city’s micro and small entrepreneurs in this time of need.
“We are also focusing on economic recovery. Tayo ang unang lungsod na nagbuo ng P700 million economic stimulus package. Bahagi nito ang wage-subsidy o ayuda ng LGU sa mga empleyado ng qualified micro and small businesses para matulungang maitaguyod ang kanlang mga nagosyo,” stated Belmonte.
With food security as a vital component in the city’s recovery plan, community farms have been established to complement food security needs. “We are turning idle lands into urban gardens where residents can plant and grow their own produce,” said Belmonte, adding that the city will also establish Mobile Soup Kitchen to provide nutritious food to the needy.
The city has also boosted its bike lane project, allocating 161 kilometers of road for the exclusive use of bicycle riders. “Isasabay ito sa ating pedestrianization project upang maging walkable at bike-able city ang QC. Ito rin ang ating paraan para makatulong maging mas madali ang pagpasok ng ating Qcitizens sa kanilang mga trabaho.”
”We are also transitioning and making online the different processes that used to require face-to-face interaction to make it easier and faster for businesses and the general public to engage with city hall,” said QC Mayor Joy Belmonte.
The city’s unified ID system or QCitizen Card that will expand e-services to all residents is also in the pipeline. Belmonte also gave livelihood to tricycle and jeepney drivers who lost their source of income due to COVID-19 by connecting them to digital platforms Foodpanda and Lalamove for their delivery services.
As for the city’s workers, Belmonte has worked for the increase of their salary into minimum livable wage and provided them with permanent positions, especially those with contractual status for decades.
”Alam po namin na hindi naging madali ang nakalipas na taon. Kaya kami po ay taos-pusong nagpapasalamat sa inyong pakikipagtulungan at kooperasyon,” said Belmonte.
”I am proud of our accomplishments as a city, because these are the results of our collective efforts and commitment for positive change,” Mayor Joy Belmonte ended.