NESTOR B. FONGWAN
An accounting graduate of the University of Baguio with Masters in Business Administration in the same University, Governor Fongwan started his political career in 1988 when he ran and won as Municipal councilor in the Municipality of La Trinidad. He was elected Municipal Vice Mayor in 1992 up to 1995.
His 1st attempt though for the Town's top post in 1995 was not successful, leaving him no choice but to go back to farming. His three (3) years hiatus in Public Office, however, did not deter him to respond to the call of public service which keeps beckoning in the deep recesses of his heart. Thus, in 1998, he ran and won the Mayoralty post of the province's capital Town of La Trinidad.
During his first term as Mayor of La Trinidad, his innate managerial and leadership skills were tested and proven. His active participation and involvement in local and national fora on matters and issues like “Local Governance”, “Best practices” and “Good Governance” has undoubtedly contributed to La Trinidad's being in the national limelight by being a recipient to various LGU national Awards.
Among his major accomplishments which were left imprinted in the annals of the Town's development process is a much-improved-income for the Municipality, elevating the town's income status from 2nd class to 1st Class . Anent to this, he left the Municipality with an intact budget of 130 Million pesos.
It was also through his initiative and leadership that the Town of La Trinidad landed on the Guinness World Record for producing the World's largest strawberry short cake. Quite amazing in his management skill is his ability to come up with measures coping up to the demand of the situation without much burden to his constituents.
Thus, through his resourcefulness, the Municipality of La Trinidad was the first LGU in the CAR to implement the Solid Waste Management program of the Government pursuant to RA 9003. All sourced out from local funds, the Engineered Sanitary Landfill at Induyan, Alno in the amount of 53 Million Pesos was constructed. The new Public market building, the Open Gym and the PNP building are just some of highlights that speak of his performance as mayor of La Trinidad.
Now serving his second term as Governor, his landslide victory of more than 47,000 votes over his opponent in unprecedented in the entire election history of Benguet. In trouncing his two political rivals in the May 10, 2010 electronics who are both acknowledged scion of well entrenched political big names of Benguet, he has beyond doubt convinced the people of Benguet that he is truly “The action man” as fondly portrayed by his constituents. Governor Fongwan's decisive and fast response to issues and problems presented to him and so with his penchant for service which his constituents not just heard nor seen but actually felt and experienced has indeed touched the lives of his people.
His 1st term as Governor, has eloquently demonstrated his unique brand of leadership to which his constituents would readily admit that he is the most prepared and skilled Executive Benguet ever had. His efforts in revenue generations and collections increasing the province's budget from Php 364 Million when he assumed office in 2007 to 784 Million in 2009 made possible the implementation of various infrastructure projects ranging from farm-to-market roads, school buildings to improvement of hospitals. His sincerity to serve his constituents anchored on his motto: “Let the People feel the presence of Government”, is the source of his strength and inspiration, as he vowed to pursue his programs of government to effect change in the lives of his constituents, especially in the far-flung areas where government services in the past may have been hardly felt. Under his administration, the pulse of government is strongly felt with the efficient delivery of needed services.
PRESENT ORGANIZATIONAL MEMBERSHIP
AWARDS AND RECOGNITION
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.
2010 – Presidential Lingkod Bayan Award, First level.
AWARDS and NOMINATIONS RECEIVED ON BEHALF OF THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT OF LA TRINIDAD
ACCOMPLISHMENT AS GOVERNOR
In his three year stint from 2007 to 2010 as Provincial Governor of Benguet, his accomplishment already speaks for itself as can be gleaned by the much improved stature of the province in the following areas.
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.
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.
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.
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 BuildingWith 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.