I will not stop until change in Bacolod achieved: Albee

Bacolod Mayor Alfredo Abelardo Benitez delivering his state of the city address.*Ronnie Baldonado photo 

Mayor Alfredo Abelardo “Albee” Benitez said he has engaged an urban planner to craft a master plan that will make Bacolod City a truly global, modern, inclusive and sustainable Super City.

“We want to make Bacolod the best place to live, work and play. We want to build a holistic environment for businesses and for people to thrive,” Benitez said in his second state of the city address, which he delivered at the Bacolod City Government Center Wednesday evening, July 3.

Part of that plan is to make Lacson Street the showcase of modern Bacolod like Orchard Road in Singapore and Ayala Avenue in Makati, he said.

Underground cabling for electric and telecommunication cables will be started at Lacson Street and sidewalks will be reclaimed and turned into linear parks, he said.

Benitez, who outlined the gains of his administration in the delivery of services, ease of doing business and in increasing revenues, said “we are not finished yet”.

“I will not stop until change in Bacolod is achieved,” Benitez said.

“I have a dream – but I also have a plan” that we have already started to implement, he said.

Benitez said his administration has already started a lot of programs to transform Bacolod into a Super City, in terms of forging shared values, delivering services, strengthening strategic industries, promoting smart solutions, and ensuring sustainable development.


Benitez said among the services initiated by his administration is the Bacolod Comprehensive Health Program (BacCHP) that has 100,000 registered members already, of which close to 5,000 have already availed of its services.

The BacCHP assistance has also been expanded to cover burial expenses, with the city having signed agreements with 11 funeral parlors to provide free services for Bacolodnon families in need of help.

The city has also launched the “Bayad Agad” program for faster financial assistance for the poor, and a voucher system for free medicine, Benitez said.

He also cited the Asenso Yuhum Housing program as one of the centerpieces of his administration.

In a Super City, the goal is for every family to own decent housing, he said.


On strategic industries Benitez cited his interventions that have succeeded in increasing the water supply of the city and in bringing down power rates.

On tourism, Bacolod’s MassKara Festival continues to draw crowds here and abroad, he said.

Benitez said Bacolod’s tourist arrivals in 2023 reached 780,000, exceeding the number of tourists in 2022 by 22 percent, and contributing P15.2 billion to the local economy.

And the report only accounts for tourists staying in hotels, he said.

The city government is also boosting the creative economy of Bacolod, Benitez said, citing is holding of the Bacolod Film Festival.

The city government is supporting Bacolodnon filmmakers and artists through the film festival that will be held in September. “We hope to see more homegrown talent to succeed in the creative sector,” he said.

“We see the potential of our creative industry, particularly of filmmaking and visual arts, to become a driver of growth in Bacolod tourism,” he said.


Benitez said he also foresees more investments coming in to Bacolod with the enactment of Republic Act No. 12000, establishing the Negros Island Region.

He thanked President Ferdinand. Marcos Jr. for his NIR support and honored former Negros Occidental governors Daniel Lacson Jr., Rafael Coscolluela and Alfredo Marañon for pushing for the island region

“Bacolod will certainly benefit from the establishment of NIR,” he said.

“Coordinated and integrated development, in terms of transportation networks, energy infrastructure, labor mobility, and integrated value chains, will boost our local economy,” Benitez added.


Benitez also cited smart solutions implemented by the city government to ease doing business in Bacolod City, including the use of QR codes to prevent forgery of government documents.

“Because of the changes we are doing, because of our efforts to ease doing business in Bacolod, investor confidence in Bacolod is high,” he said.

“New businesses are locating in Bacolod – which means more revenues for the city government, and more jobs for Bacolodnons,” he said.


Benitez said his administration has surpassed the city’s revenue collection in 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Based on data from the City Treasurer’s Office, in 2023, total revenue from local taxes, regulatory fees and other charges reached P1.4 billion, which is P500 million higher than the collection in 2019, he said.

“In 2024, we are expecting P1.7 billion in local revenues. This is made possible by our efforts to increase collection efficiency,“ Benitez said.


Benitez said Bacolod is also adopting clean technology to ensure sustainable development, and address climate change.

It also continuing to implement flood control measures and investing P86 million for drainage improvement, he said.

“As climate change accelerates, and sea level rises, we must prepare and adapt, by utilizing new methods and technologies,” he said.

The installation of solar panels with 400-kilowatt capacity on top of the BCGC and in 16 barangays will save the city government 50 percent in electricity expenses, he said.

The mayor also cited the city government’s establishment of green routes and the promotion of the use of electric vehicles.

Benitez also reported on the city’ road clearing operations and other schemes that have been undertaken to ease traffic in Bacolod City.

We have to be firm in implementing change, he said.*

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