‘I’M NOT DONE, YET’: Benitez pushes for continued change in Bacolod

Mayor Alfredo “Albee” Benitez delivers his second State of the City Address (SOCA) at the Bacolod City Government Center (BCGC) Wednesday. (Glazyl Y. Masculino photo)

By Glazyl Y. Masculino

BACOLOD CITY – “We are not finished yet. Indi ko mag-untat hasta indi pa naton nabag-o ang Bacolod” (I will not stop until change in Bacolod is achieved).

This was stressed by Mayor Alfredo “Albee” Benitez as he concluded his speech during his second State of the City Address (SOCA) held at the Bacolod City Government Center (BCGC) last Wednesday.

Benitez stated that he has started implementing his plans for the city, citing various accomplishments of the present administration in terms of forging shared values, delivering services, strengthening strategic industries, promoting smart solutions, and ensuring sustainable development.

“The state of the city is stronger than ever. But we need to sustain our momentum,” he added.

Benitez mentioned that they have done much for the city, but there are still a lot of things that need to be done.

“I cannot do it alone. If we go together, we go farther. Together, let us finish the job,” he said, adding that success will depend on how strong a partnership is.

“If we share the same vision, if we share the same values, and if we get our acts together, let us fulfill the dream for Bacolod to become a Super City,” the mayor said.

“Tani indi kita kapoyon sa pag-tulod sang pagbag-o” (I hope we will not get tired of pushing for change), he added.

Benitez said that the dream for Bacolod is rooted in history. “Old Bacolod had been great. But we can be greater. We must aim higher,” he added.

However, he stressed that to transform Bacolod into a Super City, there is a need for innovation.

Benitez said they need new ways to solve old problems and must learn from history. “Cities that do not innovate, eventually collapse. We need change in our culture of governance to address our growing needs and new threats,” he added.

Benitez emphasized that change is hard, and there will always be people who will oppose and resist change, as well as those trying to delay and derail the programs for Bacolod.

He, however, said that these people will not succeed, as the force of change is unstoppable.

“We will keep our appointment with destiny. Whether you are with us or against us, we will succeed,” Benitez said, adding that many are joining their journey towards becoming a Super City.

Benitez noted that transforming Bacolod into a Super City needs Super People.

“But we do not need superpowers to be Super People – we just need the passion to serve, and the right values and dynamic behavior to innovate,” he added.

“We want to make Bacolod the best place to live, work, and play. We want to build a holistic environment for businesses and people to thrive,” Benitez said.

He emphasized the need for a master plan to transform Bacolod into a Super City.

“We engaged the services of an urban planner to craft our Master Plan for Bacolod. This includes the development of bioswales at the roadsides to absorb rainwater runoff and mitigate flooding. Part of the master plan is also the development of River Promenade in Mambulok. The Master Plan includes the development of a network of agri-hubs to ensure food security and promote agritourism, as well as underground cabling,” he said.

Benitez said they will make Lacson Street the showcase of modern Bacolod by first installing underground cables in the area to prevent spaghetti wires.

“We will make Lacson Street like Orchard Road in Singapore, the Ayala Avenue of Makati. We will reclaim the sidewalk and turn it into linear parks,” he added.

“This master plan will make Bacolod a truly global, modern, inclusive, and sustainable Super City,” he said.

“In implementing these changes, we need to consider different needs and interests. But at the end of the day, the long-term benefits outweigh the temporary inconveniences,” he said.


Benitez said that service delivery has never been more efficient, with the launch of the Bacolod Comprehensive Health Program (BacCHP), which enables indigents to avail of free medication and easy hospital access without requiring a down payment when admitted to hospitals.

He said the city has registered more than 100,000 members, and close to 5,000 cardholders have already availed of this service.

He said they have also expanded BacCHP assistance to cover burial expenses, following their partnership with 11 funeral parlors.

He also mentioned the launch of the “Bayad Agad” program to hasten the release of financial assistance to indigents, and the plan to hasten the implementation of the voucher system to provide free medicines in coordination with various pharmacies.


Benitez mentioned the near completion of Phase 1 construction of the Asenso Yuhum Residences, which enables every family to own decent housing.

“We are not just building housing. We are building a community,” he said, adding that 296 units are available for the first phase.


He said that the MassKara Festival continues to draw crowds from here and abroad, citing the recent performance of MassKara dancers from Barangay Granada in Milan, Italy, at the Sandiwa Fiesta Europa, organized by the Filipino community in Northern Italy.

In total, he announced that tourist arrivals in 2023 reached 780,000, exceeding the number of tourists in 2022 by 22 percent, contributing P15.2 billion to the local economy. This only accounts for tourists staying in hotels.


He said they are also boosting the creative economy with the launch of the Bacolod Film Festival last May.

“We hope to see more homegrown talent succeed in the creative sector,” he said, adding that they see the potential of the creative industry, particularly filmmaking and visual arts, to become a driver of growth in Bacolod tourism.


He said they foresee more investments coming to Bacolod with the enactment of Republic Act No. 12000, establishing the Negros Island Region (NIR).

“We have been dreaming of this for so long. Bacolod will certainly benefit from the establishment of the NIR,” he said, adding that it will bring government services closer to the people.

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

He noted that the Department of Local Economic Development and Investment Promotion is ready to facilitate the entry of new investors into Bacolod.


Due to the changes and efforts to ease doing business in Bacolod, investor confidence is high, according to Benitez. He said new businesses are locating in Bacolod, which means more revenue for the city government and more jobs for Bacolodnons.

Under the present administration, they have surpassed the revenue collection in 2019, before the 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.

In 2024, they expect P1.7 billion in local revenues, he said. This is made possible by their efforts to increase collection efficiency, he added.

Due to high investor confidence, real estate companies are developing townships in Bacolod, and the city has the highest number of township projects in Western Visayas, he said.

This indicates a vibrant economy, which translates to more job opportunities for Bacolodnons, he added.

Data from PESO shows a high number of jobs available in Bacolod. In 2023, PESO job fairs offered 85,090 job positions.

So far in 2024, the number of jobs in PESO job fairs has already reached 81,846, he said. If this trend continues, they expect the number of job openings to double this year, he added.

“The road to change is long. Our dream for Bacolod to become a Super City may still be far. But, we are slowly feeling it,” he said.

“Changing the political culture in Bacolod is not a sprint, but a marathon – or a relay. It is a test of endurance,” he added.

Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson and Bacolod lone district representative Greg Gasataya were present in the occasion.


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