Australian Embassy
The Philippines

MR150722b: Remarks by Ambassador Bill Tweddell at the Bohol Day Commemorative Program

Remarks by Ambassador Bill Tweddell
at the Bohol Day Commemorative Program
Bohol Cultural Center, Tagbilaran City
July 22, 2015, 9:00 AM

• Governor Edgar M Chatto
• Vice Governor Concepcion O Lim, MD
• Congressman Rene L Relampagos, 1st Congressional District-Bohol
• Mayor John Geesnell L Yap II, Tagbilaran City
• Undersecretary Demetrio L Ignacio Jr, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)
• Director Rene K Burdeos, Regional Director, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Regional Office 7
• Our Korean friends
• Returning Boholanos (TBTK)
• Distinguished guests
• Ladies and Gentlemen

Happy Bohol Day!

It is a pleasure to be back again in Bohol and to speak to you all today at the opening of the Sandugo or Blood Compact Festival. As I understand it, this festival is in honour of the friendship and brotherhood between Datu Sikatuna and the Spanish king conquistador, Captain General Miguel López de Legazpi, back in 1565. In the spirit of this friendship, and 400 years later, I am pleased to be here representing the Australian Government to hand over ceremonially to the province 14 rehabilitated roads. The Provincial Engineering Office personnel, with Provincial Road Management Facility (PRMF) advisers, jointly supervised the work as an emergency response after the earthquake damaged many of the provincial roads in October 2013. The Australian Government is proud to have funded these projects through the PRMF. The completion of this work, on schedule and within budget, symbolises the high level of cooperation and much valued friendship and partnership between the Australian Government and the Province of Bohol.

Very much as a result this development cooperation, the Provincial Engineering Office in Bohol designed, tendered and contracted the road works in a record time of 100 days. This impressive outcome drew upon the rapid assessment of the earthquake-damaged roads conducted in cooperation with PRMF engineers. The province is currently sharing with other provinces its learning, and the changes in systems that it has employed to ensure timely implementation of all the road projects, regardless of the funding source. In sharing these experiences, you are inspiring others to embrace similar reforms.

For more than 20 years, our Governments have been partners in many development projects on governance reform, infrastructure, technical and vocational education, and community development. The Australian Government is grateful to be a partner in and contributor to this successful development work.

It is a great achievement that other provincial governments in the Philippines have adopted some of the reforms we started here in Bohol, particularly in local roads management. I warmly congratulate my friend, Governor Chatto, on his support and management that have facilitated these significant changes. Presently, Governor Chatto is championing the promotion of a national local roads program that promises to improve local road management significantly throughout the country. This program will ensure the sustainability of the gains made under the PRMF. Bohol and the other provinces that have shared in the PRMF experience are in an excellent position to share their experiences across the country.

Thank you, Bohol, for your friendship and your long-term partnership in development, growth and success. The Australian Government hopes that this work has helped all Boholanos to recover and build resilience from this earthquake, and are looking to the future.

Congratulations and good day.