July 12, 2016
SPA Session Hall
I stand in front of you today proud yet humbled because at the face of foregoing my own personal ambitions for unity in Albay, I received this overwhelming mandate to be the people’s Vice Governor and the presiding officer of the newly constituted 12th Sangguniang Panlalawigan ng Albay.
I am equally blessed and privileged because through the grace of the Almighty, the people have demonstrated their continued trust and confidence in my abilities and the new kind of leadership characterized by astute yet all-encompassing planning, steadfast yet consultative decision-making, leader-supervised and people-oriented implementation of programs and projects, and strict observance of the Constitution and the laws of the land.
The new mandate given to me by the electorate, has been my personal gauge that our new practice of collaboration among the executive, the legislative, the different departments of the Provincial Government of Albay, the LGUs of component cities and municipalities and barangays in the province have resulted in benefits that have been felt and have made significant impacts on the lives of the people we serve.
Most of all, I am inspired and encouraged by the same mandate to stay true to the promises I have made with the people and to translate them into action, into a governance that is honest and fair, and into a leadership that honors the essence of democracy.
With the change of a new administration, both in the national and local scenes, comes the challenges of setting aside political affiliations to pursue the common good of shared sustainable development in Albay.
It is your choice if you opt to change your allegiance to the ruling party; but it will be my business if you allow such decision to overtake and dictate our course towards creating a legislative body that does not show favor to anyone, especially a political ally. Rather, the 12th SPA has to be an exemplar body that sticks to issues rather than personalities, that forwards the good of the majority over the benefit of a few, that supports people empowerment and holistic community development over allegiance to family, friends and party, and that represents the voice of every Albayano.
We, as the elected leaders, have to learn to work together, despite personal ideological differences, to steer the efficient use of government machinery and resources towards the maintenance of an individual’s dignity, the Albayano family’s stability and the peace and progress of our beloved Beautiful Albay.
We are challenge to deliver decent and honest work that does not pay lip service to our promises; rather, we will, as a collegial body, observe and maintain excellence and best practices in the performance of our duties and responsibilities to the people who have granted us the honor of steering them towards the realization of their personal dreams, the promise of a brighter and secure future for our children and the permanence of a government that works with its constituents to achieve common goals while maintaining common values.
At this juncture, on behalf of the Albayanos, allow me to personally extend my gratitude to the former members of the 11th Sangguniang Panlalawigan ng Albay for their hard work and cooperation in elevating the standards of law-making and the benchmarks of public service in the province. They have been the stalwarts of what public servant ought to be and as such have led the SPA into achieving a democratic institution worthy of emulation and acclaim.
I will not fail to underscore that collaboration and cooperation have been pivotal in ensuring that all the goals set by the executive to alleviate poverty, to improve the standards of basic education and offer immense opportunities to produce a college graduate in every Albayano family, to allay the fears of expensive and sub-standards health service with the Universal PhilHealth program, to improve the different industries and livelihood in our communities, to integrate Gender and Development principles and Disaster Risk Reduction practices in our institutions and local communities, to perpetuate respect and care for the environment, and to spread the blessings of constant kindness to all Albayanos and to our fellow Filipinos, have come to fruition.
We thank you for your unselfish dedication in leading the committees you chaired, in using your voice to represent the people during discussions and deliberations in the committee level and during Regular Sessions, and in showing your love for the Albayanos through the sharing of your talent, skills and values for a kind of public service noteworthy of praise.
Yes, the Sanggunian is co-equal with the executive, but it also serves as the check and balance that puts into legal perspective the initiatives and decisions of the executive. However, it is not a forum for finger-pointing; rather, it seeks to find amicable solutions and fair compromises on mistakes and mishaps.
It is also a flatform of heated, insightful but respectful debates, after thorough consultation with stakeholders, which will hopefully result in efficient and effective pieces of legislation that will encourage respect and obedience from our constituents. But is never an avenue for grandstanding because a piece of legislation maybe the initiative of one or more authors but its passage into a provincial law is the output of a collegial body.
To the members of the 12th SPA, there is no time to dilly-dally because work is at hand. We may have greenhorns in our midst but I assure you that the system, procedures and processes in the Sangguniang are in place and maintained by our reliable and competent OVG and SPA staff who will gladly and patiently guide and assist you in learning the ropes of law-making.
As your presiding officer, it will be an honor to mentor you as my way of paying it forward to the political acumen of my own mentors who molded me into the kind of leader and public servant that I am today.
Allow me then to lay down the important pieces of legislation that the 12th SPA needs to focus on and once passed will serve as the legacy of this august body: the Revised Tax Code of Albay, the Environment Code, the Investment Incentive Code, the Administrative Code among others.
This however does not preclude anyone from passing a piece of legislation that he/she sees fit to meet the immediate and future needs of our people, our industries and our institutions.
To the honorable members of the 12th SPA and to the loyal and dedicated public servants of the Office of the Vice Governor and the Sangguniang Secretariat, I encourage you to once again put the gears of quality work and unselfish service to work towards the collective achievement of the goals and objectives set by our Honorable Governor Al Francis Bichara for the benefit of the people of Albay.
This is my challenge and my ardent prayer that our continued collaboration and synergy bear witness to the mutual trust and respect that permeate our professional and personal relationships for the realization of every Albayano’s dream of tranquility, security and shared sustainable development in the community of resilient Magayons and Oragons.