Kiko to continue ‘Smart Asenso’ push, outlines first term gains

Rep. Francisco “Kiko” Benitez, who is running for a second term, said he has implemented close to P5 billion in infrastructure and assistance projects in the third district of Negros Occidental and authored and co-authored 277 bills during his first term.

Benitez, at a press conference on Sunday, said he is filing his certificate of candidacy for reelection before the Commission on Elections on Monday, October 4.

The congressman stressed the need to continue to retool people towards a “Smart Asenso” future through new technologies for a more digital economy, better telehealth services to decongest hospitals, E-government for transparency and efficiency, agriculture rebooting through smart supply chains, education innovation and sustainable development.

“Alternative smart models of development and governance have just started,” and three years in Congress is too short for some of these initiatives that is why he is seeking reelection, he said.

Benitez said he will continue to push for the digital infrastructure and transformation programs of the government to be felt more palpably and to bring the third district to the 21st century.

Meanwhile, among the local infrastructure projects implemented during his first term were P2.52 billion in roads, bridges – P403.4 million, flood control structures – P1.2 billion, irrigation facilities – P290.6 million and multi-purpose community centers, – P210.6 million, he said.

He also assisted in the establishment of the molecular laboratory at the Teresita L. Jalandoni Provincial Hospital in Silay City, established health centers with equipment, worth P22.5 million, provided P25.5 million in medical assistance to indigent patients, P77.6 million in cash assistance to poor families, and P77.6 million in emergency housing assistance to 385 flood-affected families at P5,000 each.

In education and digital reskilling, Benitez said cash assistance was provided to 2,016 students, P38.9 million was spent on school buildings, Free WiFi projects were set up in 33 sites in the district, Tech4Ed Centers in three LGUs, digital jobs training, scholarships for 25 students in China universities, and P15 million in TESDA special training for 907 trainees.

Among his key bills on environment protection were on banning single-use plastics, institutionalizing environmental-economic accounting and on controlling marine pollution, he said.

Benitez, in support of the need for digital transformation as the means to move forward in the future, said he also filed bills on the comprehensive framework for digital transformation, digital payment system, promoting digital reskilling, implementing roll-over data and establishing digital hubs per LGU.

On education, innovation and creativity, he said he filed bills for community learning centers for lifelong learning , promoting film tourism, strengthening teacher education and the development of creative industries

He has also filed bills on promoting urban agriculture, institutionalizing in-city housing, institutionalizing rental housing subsidy, promoting smart, green and human-centered mobility, creating sustainable cities framework for LGUs, a convergence program for sustainable rural development, establishing an agricultural information system for yield monitoring and marketing, creating the Visayas Development Authority and in support to the sugarcane industry, Benitez added.

On the post-pandemic recovery, he co-authored the Bayanihan 2 and 3, and the ARISE bill, Benitez said.

Benitez said he has also filed bills providing retirement benefits for barangay officials, including barangay tanods, expanding benefits of barangay health workers, and increasing the compensation of public social workers

His bills of local significance have sought the increase in the bed capacity of the Teresita L. Jalandoni Provincial Hospital, the establishment of a marine hatchery in Talisay City, the construction of the Bacolod-Victorias coastal road, and establishing a Land Transportation Office in EB Magalona, Regional Trial Court branches in Victorias and Silay cities, a high school for the arts and design in Silay City, and a school for sports in E.B. Magalona, Benitez said.

Benitez said he has also chaired 14 Technical Working Groups in the House of Representatives on a wide range of concerns.*

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