NESTOR B. FONGWAN
Revenue Generation and Collections
Guided by his vision of spurring the economic growth and development of the Province, he saw the need of improving the revenue generation of the Provincial Government. His sincerity and dedication to serve the people is anchored on the implementation of various programs that will further improve the delivery of basic services to the people. Achievement of this vision, however, depends on the availability of resources, thus, the first thing he did when he assumed office was to get the cooperation and support of the Vice Governor, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan Members and employees of the Provincial Government.
Their support is very crucial to his efforts in negotiating with National Power Corporation (NPC), TRANSCO, Hydro power and large mining companies paved the way for the collection of the province’s just share in the national wealth generated by these companies but were not remitted to the Provincial Government on time.
Improvement of Health Services by Strengthening Inter-Local Health Zones
In support to this program, he initiated the improvement of the five district hospitals of the province, namely: Atok District Hospital, Abatan Emergency Hospital in Buguias, Dennis Molintas Municipal Hospital in Bokod, Itogon Municipal Hospital and Kapangan Medicare Community Hospital by upgrading their health facilities for fast and efficient delivery of health services to the people.
Water systems and other facilities of these hospitals were also improved. In addition, the rural health units (RHU buildings in Kapangan, Bokod, and Mankayan were constructed and improved, including various health stations in the province. Additional doctors and nurses were also hired to man the emergency room of Benguet General Hospital for 24 hours.
With the improved delivery of health services through hiring of additional medical staff, Benguet General Hospital garnered an award from the Civil Service Commission’s Public Service Delivery Audit (PASADA) for garnering a very good rating in exhibiting the value of customer care and meeting the expectations of the transacting public for prompt, courteous, responsive, facilitative and pleasant service, particularly on medical consultations. The award was given on September 23, 2009 during the Regional Recognition Program of the 109th Anniversary of the Philippine Civil Service held at Prince Plaza Hotel.
On the other hand, due to the hiring of additional manpower for Benguet General Hospital, this paved the way for the separation of management and administration of the hospital with the Provincial Health Office.
Development of Benguet Sports Center
Challenged by the lack of sports center, he moved for the development of the Benguet Sports Center located at Wangal, La Trinidad. The ground oval, drainage system and grand stand was constructed. Moreover, an amount of P6.5 million was set aside for the construction of covered bleachers in the area.
The 2008 CARAA meet was held in the same area. Although the center still needs a lot of improvement, the sports meet was still a success.
Universal PHILHEALTH Coverage for Indigents
Benguet was given a national award in 2009 for universal coverage under the PHILHEALTH Sponsored Program for surpassing its target.
Renovation of the Provincial Capitol Building
With the increase in resources resulting to surplus, the executive and legislative worked together for the implementation of the renovation of the Capitol building.
Constructed in 1973, the paintings around the building have faded. The electrical wirings are also outdated. Capacity must be increased to accommodate larger load requirements, considering the increasing number of computers in all offices. It was for the first time, within a span of almost 40 years that a major renovation of the people’s building happened.
Bent on protecting the vegetable industry against smuggling, he posted his trusted people to regularly monitor all the markets in Metro Manila for any illegal entry of vegetables from other countries. He also established close coordination with the authorities of the Bureau of Customs so he can keep a tight watch on smuggling activities. Preparing farmers for global market, he initiated their profiling in order to have a complete data for crop programming. This is necessary to enable them to be competitive and as a preparation for them to access the high end market and users by establishing a clear policy on agriculture.
In response to increasing school population, he saw the need to construct new school buildings including the repair and improvement of existing ones. He increased the budget from P7 million in 2007 to P8 million in 2008 and 28 million in 2009.
Because of the support and assistance given to the field of education, Benguet was ranked number one in the entire country in 2008 – 2009 in terms of literacy rate, per capital income and life expectancy, besting 79 provinces including the highly urbanized cities in Metro Manila. Two national awards under two categories were given to the province as a result of this findings. The awards are as follows:
Malaking Pag-angat sa Kaunlarang Pangtao; and Mataas na Kaunlarang Pangtao
Governor Fongwan received the awards from the United Nation’s Development Program and the Government of New Zealand in coordination with the Philippine Human Resource Development.
Augmentation of Provincial Roads and Construction and Improvement of Waterworks System
Roads play a vital role in development so he increased the budget allocations to provincial roads last year by 100% from P10 million in 2007 to P20million in 2008 to P40 million in 2009 and P50 million by 2010.
With the increased budget allocations, farm to market roads were developed giving farmers easy access in the delivery of their produce to the local market. Moreover, irrigation to farmlands has also improved and more families benefited from these waterworks.
Improvement of the road linking Halsema road to Timbac-Kabayan Barrio to boost tourism in the area. This is to eventually connect La Trinidad – Kabayan – Halsema – Banaue and vice versa to promote the province as package tour site. In addition to this, comfort rooms were constructed along Poblacion, La Trinidad, Km 26, Atok and also along La Trinidad – Gurel – Bokod – Kabayan Road.
One of his priority projects before he took over as Governor he noted the need for the improvement of access roads leading to the various tourist sites in the province. Thus, with the funding for these projects, tourist arrival definitely increased since among the CAR provinces, Benguet posted the highest number of arrivals from 194,491 in 2008 and 206,032 in 2009.
Peace and Order
Community and Police Assistance Centers (COMPAC) were established and constructed in Km. 42, Atok,; Adaoay, Kabayan; and in Bila, Bokod. Street lights were also installed along main thoroughfares such as: Halsema Road, Gurel – bokod-Kabayan Road, Baguio-Bua-Itogon road, Acop-
Always concerned with safety, the Provincial Governor reiterated the need for the readiness of the Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council (PDCC) for any eventualities. He sent the members of the committee to various trainings and equipped them with two big ambulances and a motorboat mounted with 25 HP motor. Benguet EMS was also established.
On May 31, 2009, the Province of Benguet, represented by Governor Fongwan forged a sisterhood and friendly agreement with Chungcheongbuk Province, South Korea. As a component of the agreement, Chungcheongbuk Province donated fire fighting equipment such as trucks and suits that shall be for the exclusive use of the Provincial Government of Benguet.
The Governor knows that time is of the essence and preparation is still the best armour for any eventualities. With the donated equipment from South Korea, he said that this is still not enough. A lot of life-saving equipment are still needed.
On October, 2009, before the onslaught of two typhoons, Governor Fongwan immediately convened the Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council for an emergency meeting to discuss emergency/disaster preparedness and contingency plan in preparation of the forecast weather disturbances that will be striking the locality.
Typhoon Ondoy and Pepeng, the two consecutive typhoons that hit the country battered Northern Luzon inflicting heavy damages on many parts of the island, but most particularly hit was the Province of Benguet causing heavy mud and rock slides resulting in hundreds of casualties and collapsing access roads, leaving many residents trapped without access to basic goods and services. During these dark times, the Governor proved his steadfast leadership by rallying all available manpower and resources to the aide of those in need.
Due to lack of shelters for the victims who lost their homes, he opened his residence and welcomed them. More than a hundred people stayed in their residence where they put up tents and other temporary shelter for their use. His family gave them food and shared even the clothes of the Governor, while the governor is busy attending to the other victims especially in the rescue operations. Throughout the wake of the storms and after, he personally directed and supervised the reopening of all major roads, distribution of aide and financial assistance to all affected making sure that the people has recovered from this tragic event.
He ensured that all the needed equipment, like ambulances, fire trucks, dump trucks, rechargeable flashlights, shovels, chainsaws, rubber boats and generators to be used for rescue, relief and rehabilitation are ready in preparation for any impending hazards and devastations that may happen. He also instructed the purchase of basic commodities such as rice, medicines, potable water and rechargeable flashlights.
At the height of typhoon Pepeng, the Governor, in full gear together with members of the PDCC and rescue teams, responded to many distress calls for assistance in the calamity-stricken areas such as in Little Kibungan Village at Puguis, La Trinidad and Buyagan, Poblacion, also in La Trinidad. Other Municipalities of the Province had also seek the help of the Governor especially in the removal of slides.
In Balili, Mankayan, the Governor sent for the heavy equipment to clear the slides therein. One provincial employee, named Danny Cuyopan was there to assist the heavy equipment operator when a portion of the road where he was standing on eroded and fell down along with the eroded soils and rocks. Mr. Cuyopan died instantly.
Although many lives perished during the calamity, many were saved and bigger accidents were prevented because of his immediate response and action. To the extent of endangering his life and limb, he went personally to the areas where the accidents happened, even driving the ambulance himself. Sacrificing even the comforts of his family, he did not think twice of opening his home to strangers.
With his constant coordination and request for assistance with the concerned agencies, plus the help of mass media, the tragedy caught the attention of both national and international aid agencies such as the Red Cross, United Nations and even the United States Ambassador to the Philippines, Kristie Kelly visited the devastated province and offered their help and assistance. Relief goods poured all over and even our countrymen working abroad pulled their resources together and sent their donations and assistance to the province.
Determined not to let this tragedy happen again, the Governor was able to solicit 25 HP motorboat from the SN Aboitiz company. Plus the firefighting equipment from Chungcheongbuk Province in South Korea.
There are still a lot to be done, but for the meantime, reconstruction and rehabilitation of the damages have to be implemented first. At present, negotiations for the provision of lot where the construction of houses for those who lost their homes in Little Kibungan is one of his priorities before the rainy months sets in.
Now at the home-stretch of his second term, Gov. Fongwan’s governance has always been capsulized by his principle of “Let the people feel the presence of Government”. On this principle stands his unceasing sincerity and commitment to serve the people of Benguet. His administration gives priority to the following programs:
1. Socio-economic developments;
2. Environment and natural resources preservation and protection;
3. Poverty alleviation;
4. Construction of school buildings;
5. Disaster management;
6. Effective delivery of health service;
7. Livelihood projects;
8. Human resource training and development; and
9. Promotion of quality Education.
Coming from a hardworking family, he is very organized and calculating when it comes to work. Personally touching the lives of his constituents is his noticeable presence in spearheading rescue operations during typhoons, calamities and other emergency situations.
His penchant for hard-work and focused leadership made his administration reaped several local and national awards in different categories, particularly in the aspects of education, health and local governance, some of which are the following:
a. Malaking Pag-angat sa Kaunlarang Pangtao;
b. Mataas na Kaunlarang Pangtao;
c. Philhealth award;
d.Seal of good House Keeping; and
e. Gawad Pamana ng Lahi.
The first two awards (a. “Malaking Pag-angat sa Kaunlarang Pantao”; b. “Mataas na Kaunlarang Pantao” were given by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Government of New Zealand in coordination with the Philippine Human Resource Development (PHRD) in recognition of Benguet Province being No. 1 in the list of the Country’s most improved provinces for the years 2008 and 2009 besting Seventy Seven (77) provinces and several highly urbanized cities, including the cities of metro Manila.
Again in 2011-2012, Benguet topped in the United Nation Development Program (UNDP) human development index report which measures gains of provinces in terms of per capita income, literacy and life expectancy. This is the second time under the administration of Gov. Fongwan that Benguet topped all 79 provinces nationwide. Gov. Fongwan with other provincial officials and department head received the award on July 29, 2013 at Crowne Plaza Hotel, Manila
His award from Philhealth received during the 6th General Assembly of Philhealth Forum in Manila last June 11, 2009 is in recognition of Benguet Province’s having the most numbers of Philhealth enrollees in the Country, exceeding the required universal coverage.
Gov. Fongwan was also a national Finalist in the 2010 Lingkod Bayan Award.
In 2011, the province of Benguet was a recipient of the Seal of Good House Keeping Award from the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) in recognition of his administration’s commitment to the principle of “transparency and accountability in local governance”. Again, the Province of Benguet was given the Seal of Good Housekeeping Award for the year 2012.
Adherent to the principle that Education is the cornerstone of democracy and an enlightened citizenry, Governor Fongwan has always given utmost priority to education. In promoting the cause of education, secondary schools in the remotest part of Benguet were established, school buildings were constructed and existing ones are rehabilitated.
He also acquired hundreds of computers, laptops and other equipment from south Korea which he distributed to several public elementary and secondary schools in Benguet.
Governor Fongwan’s administration allotted funds to Alternative Learning System (ALS) and Balik Paaralan Para sa Adults (BPOSA) to help out-of-school youths and adults who are interested to continue their education.
PRESENT ORGANIZATIONAL MEMBERSHIP
AWARDS AND RECOGNITION AS MAYOR
International Recognition : Landed the Municipality of La Trinidad during his term in the world map by leading the Strawberry Festival that produced the Guinness World Book of Records’ LARGEST STRAWBERRY CAKE.
National Recognition: For being the First LGU to construct and develop a modern sanitary garbage site and materials recovery facility in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR)
GINTONG BALAKA Leadership Award for Local Chief executives (1st – 3rd class municipalities): For Being in the forefront of the campaign against vegetable smuggling and the protection of the local highland vegetable industry.
AWARDS and NOMINATIONS RECEIVED ON BEHALF OF THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT OF LA TRINIDAD
Benguet General Hospital Economic Enterprise:
Appropriation Ordinance No.