LEGAZPI CITY – The Incheon Metropolitan City, South Korea’s powerhouse business center, has reappointed Albay Second District Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda as its Advisor for International Affairs. The lawmaker has held the post since 2009 when he was still Albay governor. Its reconfirmation was signed by Incheon Mayor Park Nam-choon last November 28, this year, and will be valid until November 27, 2023.
The 2009 appointment of Salceda, under an Albay-Incheon sisterhood pact forged at the Incheon Sister Cities Conference that year, had firmed up Albay’s economic partnership with the Incheon Metropolitan City. The pact was intended to cement trade and investment cooperation between Incheon and Albay, which was preceded by a bilateral tie-up that goes back to 2007.
Salceda, who currently chairs the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee, has thanked Incheon Mayor Park Nam-choon and the Incheon Metropolitan Authority for the continued trust given him in the past eleven years.
He also expressed optimism the existing sisterhood pact between the two local governments will continue to flourish as business and trade normalize after the pandemic, assuring that his second congressional district office in Legazpi City, Albay’s business hub and the Bicol regional center, can help facilitate fresh trade relations with Incheon.
Salceda had started to develop links with Incheon in South Korea, since December of 2007, before his appointment as International Economic Advisor of Incheon Metropolitan Authority, following the establishment of close relations among top officials of the two central business hubs. His reappointment as advisor, he said, is actually an honor bestowed on the people of Albay which he has represented for years until the present and which won recognitions in various spheres.
Albay was adjudged Best Province for local governance by the Department of Interior and Local Government in 2013; Best in education program with its Albay Higher Education Contribution Scheme — Education Quality for Albayanos, free tuition in all community colleges and Bicol University satellite campuses, Brilliant Young Teachers, Bakas Parangal ng Kabayanihan, National Achievement Test after rising from 177th to 19th spot, Provincial Education Department (the only LGU with this regular office), Graduate Studies Subsidy Program, Bicol University modernization and Technical Educational and Skills Development Authority mass trainings.
Under Salceda’s stewardship, Albay garnered honors in Disaster Risk Reduction-Climate Change Adaptation (zero casualty, preemptive evacuation, Community-based Disaster Risk Management, Climate Change Academy; Albay Provincial Safety Emergency Management Office (Apsemo) leading role with three consecutive Kalasag Awards for the province, Legazpi City and Sto. Domingo town (all Hall of Famers), one Galing Pook Award for Apsemo and similar awards for Team Albay Humanitarian Disaster Response, and Albay Health Emergency Management or AHEM;
Salceda’s other earned special recognitions including the following: as UN Senior Global Champion in DRR-CCA; first Asian co-chair of the UN Green Climate Fund which raised $13 billion for climate adaptation and mitigation; health achievements (MDGs with a Galing Pook Award, Manuel L Quezon Award from DOH for TB eradication –97% immunization, 100% notification and 97% cure rate – whicg he considers as “dearest to my heart since it has not been awarded since then in 2015 and 26 years before that;” BHW empowerment, BRTTH modernization and 600 bed capacity expansion along with the setting up of its Bicol Heart Center, ER Trauma, Bicol Cancer Institute and 2015 Manuel L Quezon Award for TB eradication;
In the economic realm, Salceda is credited with the spatial development of the Guinobatan-Camalig-Daraga-Legazpi economic platform, the Albay-Masbate-Sorsogon Tourism Alliance, the Bicol International Airport, the 4-Island Summit, Daraga 4-Quadrant Suburban Dev’t., Mayon Southeast Quadrant, concreting of Camalig Bypass Road, Duterte Bypass Road), tourism, arts, culture and heritage achievements, tourist visitors’ expansion from 133,440 to 1,816,056, and competitive selection of Albay as Philippine Tourism Star in Febebruary 2015.
TripAdvisor/PATA selected Albay as Tourists’ Top Destination in 2015 which for registering a surge of foreign tourist arrivals from 8,765 to 439,175, and domestic tourists from 124,675 to 1,376,681; the surge was attributed in part to Albay’s serious promotion of its classical Magayon Arts/Culture-based Festival, Karangahan Festival, Culinaria Albay, support to all town festivals, hosting of PATA International Convention, WTO and APEC summits, other top meetings of NAITAS and Philtoa, and opening of the Legazpi Airport to the Chinese market.
Albay’s other earned distinctions include its hosting of the Queen of Spain in 2015 and the Palarong Pambansa in in the same year after 45 years; its three Regional Championship honors in Palarong Bicol after 28 years; its Albay Poet Laureate and Albay Pageant Academy honors; the UNESCO Albay Biosphere award for having expanded its forested area from 25,000 to 88,000 hectares, and mangrove forests from 800 to 2,400 hectares which helped enhance Albay’s Blue Economy;
Likewise contributing to Albay’s forward urge which significantly gained momentum under Salceda’s guidance is the still unfinished Albay Integrated Comprehensive Advanced Strategy for Agriculture (AICASA) program which has already increased irrigated rice farms in the province from 18,000 to 24,000 hectares and led it to became the 2nd highest camote producer; the current Albay provincial administration is now also being recognized for its singular effort in agricultural development and promotion.
Salceda’s consultancy service as Incheon Foreign Advisor on International Affairs has already covered five terms or 10 years, as follows: 1st term, 2009-2011; 2nd term, 2011-2013; 3rd term, 2013-2015, 4th term, 2015-2017; 5th term, 2019-2021; its reconfirmation extends it to its 6th term, 2021-2023.