Ifugao Vice Gov. Prudenciano steers SP to right direction

LAGAWE, IFUGAO – – The Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) of Ifugao was transformed early on during its first session from a seemingly test-driving vehicle to a promising and functioning one, each member of which sought to refine some matters related to legislative work.
The process was aided largely by Vice Governor Glenn Prudenciano’s experience as presiding officer of the influential and powerful SP. He previously served this position and it immensely rewarded him. Some organizational plans were discussed. About 6 p.m., Prudenciano made sense of what is happening to the mixed set of lawmakers.
Vice Governor Prudenciano, a distinguished three-term mayor of Alfonso Lista town, indispensably contributed to accomplishing first-day tasks of the SP. In a scale of one to ten, Vice Governor Prudenciano earned a mark or rating of eight. It is as good as saying Vice Governor Prudenciano passed the acid test of steering the SP on Day 1 with flying colors.
Before taking over the post of Jose Jordan Gullitiw who ran and lost for governor in the just-concluded elections, Prudenciano was a member of good standing of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP). There are 1,490 municipalities in the country.
Clearly, Vice Governor Prudenciano was setting a target for the province’s highest law-making body. The outcome of his continuing engagement with board members shall reflect if the holdovers and new members are really ready to tackle the herculean task of enacting laws to advance the common good.
Surely, Vice Governor Prudenciano wants to provide them a strong foundation of the key concepts, techniques and concerns that are crucial to a deeper understanding of the law-making process.
In attendance were new members Ceasario Cabbigat, Joselito Guyguyon, Agustin Calyaen, Orlando Addug and Petra Dulnuan as well as holdovers Noli Maguiwe, Clemente Bongtiwon and Geronimo Bimohya, all re-electionist candidates who ran without a political party. Board Members Aezel Dumangeng and James Buholon, heads of the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) and Association of Barangay Captains (ABC), respectively, also took part in the SP’s maiden session.
For the most part of its morning and afternoon session segments, Vice Governor Prudenciano steered well his colleagues to the core function of shaping up the organizational development plan of the SP.
The Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Ifugao, which is composed of eight elected board members from the two districts of the province and heads of the SK, ABC and the Philippine Councilors League (PCL)-Ifugao Chapter, aims to pursue quality legislation to address several longstanding problems besetting this impoverished upland Cordillera province. PCL Ifugao Federation president and concurrent Board Member Maximillian Luglug of Hingyon also attended the session. Luglug is a major pillar of the SP, advancing the cause of the marginalized sector at all times.
In these crucial times, legislation at Ifugao’s highest echelon of power is being confronted by the face of pain, anguish and anger because of the spread of poverty and search for decent and good paying jobs. To put it simply: It is the duty of the SP to promote the well-being of the people, most especially the poor.
There is nothing to gain from being tied up with obsolete, worn-out formulas of the past. For instance, so much time was spent for archiving a number of municipal ordinances and reviewing some others and subsequently referring them to various committees. Believe it or not: The endorsement of the SP was sought earlier for a House Bill filed in the 17th Congress, under Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who is no longer a member of the House of Representatives. Teodoro Baguilat Jr. is out of the lower chamber and Atty. Solomon Chungalao is now the Ifugao congressman- the province’s voice in the 18th Congress.
Rather the people are now looking forward for the significant improvement of budget allocations to address the issue of reducing poverty in Ifugao. This will surely change the way of undercutting the underdevelopment woes of the province’s 11 towns.
Prior to his lopsided victory in the last May midterm polls, Prudenciano pushed for a lot of changes in Alfonso Lista and became a leading voice for change, transforming his hometown into the most successful story in implementing key development programs and projects in the grassroots level.
Still another reason to rejoice is the fact that chairmanship of various committees apparently was settled even before the SP’s first session. A committee is also composed of a vice chairperson and two members. People welcome any effort to fast-track things at the SP for its members to immediately buckle down to work.
“They cannot start from a learning curve that shall be taking off from a messy spot. It is good that vice governor, a seasoned official, is around to guide them,” a former board member said. He asked not to be identified.
Spending too much time for a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) inked with the previous governor is one thing. Pushing a legislative agenda for the development plans of Governor Dalipog is another. This should be the thrust of the current SP. Wholly different from their political affiliation from Governor Dalipog but work alongside governing Ifugao, which is also tasked to improve the people’s welfare.
If there is an onerous provision in contract or MOA entered previously by a highly-placed official would a board member not hesitate to rescind it for it is grossly disadvantageous to the government and the people? There is no need to rush action on this. In fact, truth to tell, there’s no urgency at all on a rewinding tempo at the SP or glossing over developments of the past. The journey of the SP started on July 1, 2019 to become a well-attuned legislative body and continues thereafter in order for its members to provide the people a better quality of life through good governance in the pursuit of inclusive growth.
Interestingly, even Vice Governor Prudenciano has a sole ally at the SP. He and Board Member Guyguyon, former mayor of Kiangan, belonged to the Liberal Party. Careful planning of well-meaning programs for the poor and needy Ifugao folks crystallized through a proposed measure and its enactment is achieved by way of bipartisan legislation.
For now, the SP delves into other matters such as hiring of personnel. Strange as be, the practice of employing job-ordered (JOs) men and women to help a board member handle chores at the office stays. At a pre-election forum at Don Bosco High School Gymnasium, the candidates condemned the contractualization of provincial government personnel. Ironically, not a few of them who signed the covenant expressing their support to end the controversial practice even made it to the SP. For short, there is still “endo” (end of contract). Under this illegal and ridiculous practice, companies (and even local government units or LGUs) hire employees under a fixed-term basis and continuously review their contracts to avoid benefits that regular workers are entitled to.
President Duterte has vehemently opposed the “endo” practice. Newly-hired JOs of the SP are reportedly to start working on July 1. As to schedules and manner of receiving their wages, Board Member Maguiwe of Aguinaldo said the practice in recent past entails a two week tiered mode or the “15 and 30” salary days.
The spin against discarding of the “endo” practice at the SP is that it will result to a backlash among politicians who continue to hire supporters as a means of a political payback.
At its first session, Vice Governor Prudenciano asked his colleagues to deem as urgent, practical and vital to “professionalize the ranks of the SP members’ staff. For that matter, faced by a query on the predicament of a utility employee, Prudenciano simply retorted: “This is just my opinion.” What’s in an opinion? Vice Governor Prudenciano’s timely and relevant opinion has the power to cross from mediocrity to excellence. It has the power, commitment and purpose in finally ensuring efficiency at the SP.
Sadly, there are pockets of resistance to change. Also of utmost importance is the lowly wages of SP members’ personnel. Emphasis on this matter is on the fact that cost of living these days is so high that the call for increased wages are necessary rather illusionary.
Beyond the scheduled orientation meeting and initial round of committee meetings, the SP should determine first and foremost the plans and programs of Governor Dalipog and upgrade its members of law-making chores so that they are more knowledgeable of the flaws and strengths of the system. Doing these all-important actions- Is it too late now? Not at all!
It’s getting more challenging at the SP. With the SP now in place, it is time to attend to more pressing concerns such as the 2020 provincial government budget and the outcry to lessen poverty and inequality among the people. By doing so, the SP’s relevance can’t be assailed for the people only want it to be fair, accountable, responsive and consistent with the people’s priorities. This will subsequently put the province in a better strait.
As SP sessions continue each Tuesday of the week, images of “trial-and-error” situations and actuations among junior members will most likely wither, but the worsening hunger and poverty outside of the SP session hall will not. Calls to face head-on the people’s problems will grow.
The SP should “take action” on the mounting poverty problem in Ifugao. If any board member is in a denial state of mind, the long queue of beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilya Pilipino Program (4Ps) at Landbank in Lagawe is a pretty good wake-up call. Board members should take a serious look at frontline services and acknowledge that something is awfully wrong somewhere. Fortunately, there is no shortage of best practices; a vice governor who in the past was behind these exemplary practices in Alfonso Lista and believes in transforming Ifugao into a progressive province with the vision for its future as an economic hub in northern Luzon.
More fortunately, Vice Governor Prudenciano is a living testimony of a leader who has earned not just Ifugao’s but more so the region’s admiration and reaped countless feats for Alfonso Lista and Ifugao. He easily personifies a public servant’s resiliency with a big heart and the people’s resolve to overcome great difficulties in their midst.
With his reputation as a game-changer and champion for progress, the SP can be certain that its operations and functions will be managed well and grow into its maximum potential under the strong and abled stewardship of Vice Governor Glenn Prudenciano. **By Anthony A. Araos

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