Pampanga vice mayors get outstanding legislator awards

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014


CITY OF SAN FERNANDO -- This city's Vice Mayor Jimmy Lazatin and Angeles City Vice Mayor Vicky Vega Cabigting were among the awardees of the Outstanding Local Legislator Award (OLLA) for 2014 at the New World Hotel in Makati on Tuesday.

The award was presented by Superbrand Marketing International (SMI).

The Superbrands award is a global brand arbiter in the world, represented in 90 countries with close to over 18,000 brands awarded. Superbrands identify and pay tribute to exceptional brands and category leaders.

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Both legislators were given their respective honors before other awardees from all over the country and SMI president and CEO Harry Tambuatco.

Vega-Cabigting has anchored her career in politics on her slogan "Serbisyong Panalo para sa Angeleno". She became the first woman vice-mayor of Angeles City in 2007, a position she holds until today on her third term.

"Despite her humble beginnings, she has made a name in Angeles politics through sheer hard work and dedication with prayers as her best secret weapon. Against all odds, she became No.1 City Councilor in 2001 and then again as No. 1 Councilor in 2004. Asked if she has always wanted to be in politics, Vice Mayor Vega-Cabigting would always mention one defining moment in her youth when she fervently prayed for the path she would take in her life," the SMI introduction said.

SMI said that a few months after graduating from the University of the Philippines in Diliman with a Bachelor’s degree in Communication (Major in Broadcast Communication), she joined the staff of Speaker Pro Tempore Antonio Cuenco at the House of Representatives. It was during this time that she was admitted to the UP College of Law.

"She had to juggle work, studies and supporting her family in Angeles City. As the eldest child, she embraced the responsibility of sending her seven siblings to school. She then made ultimate sacrifice of giving up her law studies to be able to help her parents and siblings. Her interest in legislation led her to a stint at the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office (PLLO) during the time of President Fidel V. Ramos. She was first assigned to the PLLO-Senate then later to the PLLO-House of Representatives and in between would be reporting at the PLLO in Malacañang. She also served as Political Officer and speechwriter of then Senator Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Legislative Officer of Congressman Carmelo F. Lazatin of the First District of Pampanga.

In 1998, Rep. Lazatin became Angeles City mayor and appointed Vega-Cabigting as the first Gender and Development (GAD) Officer the following year. As GAD Officer, Vega-Cabigting, became the focal person for all women-related programs of the city. Under her leadership, the Women H.E.A.L. (Health, Empowerment, Affirmation and Life) was established to help women with their health concerns. The program aimed at providing information on women’s health particularly cancer awareness. It also provided financial assistance to cancer patients. As GAD Officer, Vega-Cabigting was also in charge of distributing the more than 5,000 Philhealth cards in Angeles City being the first LGU in Central Luzon to do so.

"This paved the way for her running as City Councilor and clinching the No. 1 spot in the Sangguniang Panglunsod. During her two terms as top City Councilor, Vega-Cabigting filed ordinances on Gender and Development and women empowerment such as the Anti-Trafficking Ordinance to support the national law on Anti Trafficking of Persons. As part of her constituency affairs programs, she initiated the Sulong Kaalaman program to support the education sector. This consists of her Read-along program to encourage young students to read. Under the program, Vega-Cabigting also provided school supplies to more than one thousand indigent students every school year," SMI said.

Her major accomplishments include the institutionalization of the Barangay VAWC (Violence Against Women and Children) Desk in every barangay to assist and empower women and children who are victims of violence; Sulong Kalusugan Caravan and Mobile Clinic, providing seminars on women's health and medical assistance to far-flung puroks and sitios of Angeles; Support for Brigada which encourages LGUs, NGOs and members of the community to support public schools by donating paint and other cleaning materials to all public schools in Angeles City.

Through the leadership of Vega-Cabigting, the Sangguniang Panglunsod of Angeles City won the Local Legislative Award for Highly Urbanized Cities in Region III and was among the finalist in the national competition. Vega-Cabigting has also appeared in three Kapampangan independent films Babagwa (Spider’s Lair), Ing Magkakabaung (The Coffin Maker) and Dayang Asu (In Pampanga, We Eat Dogs) in support of Kapampangan film makers.

Meanwhile, SMI honored Lazatin for his similar achievements in politics. Lazatin has anchored his political mantra on “Tune Serbisyu, Tune Lugud” (Genuine service out of genuine compassion). Lazatin was born and raised in the City of San Fernando.

"Vice-Mayor Jimmy Lazatin was born to a well-known family in the City of San Fernando Pampanga. Though blessed to belong to landed gentry, he was raised humbly by his philanthropist father, Jesus Lazatin. His father has taught him the values of perseverance, hard work, discipline and selflessness. With these principles he has started humbly his way up where his hard work has taken him to the world of business," SMI said.

In 2004, although a neophyte and a new face in local governance, he landed as 2nd City Councilor where he bravely chose two of the most laborious committees in the august chamber – the Committee on Education and School Infrastructure and the Committee on Public Market and Economic Enterprise and Slaughterhouse.

"Just in his first term alone, he proved his performance, through serving his essential “hours” in the Office of the Sangguniang Panlungsod, not conforming to the norm of just going to office during Wednesdays for sessions, but rather dedicated every opportunity to serve the Fernandinos by legislating most needed local laws as he is mandated as a local legislator and complementing it with his own projects (personally planned, implemented and funded) which is even beyond what is expected from a local legislator," SMI added.

Again in 2007 he won as the 1st City Councilor. This time around, together with the Committee on Education and School Infrastructure, he chose the Committee on Environmental Protection, Natural Resources, Waterways and Flooding Intervention. Further, he maximized his upbringing and connections to entice companies and organizations in public private partnerships. He encouraged them to translate their Corporate Social Responsibility projects into local projects beneficial to constituents especially in the field of education. Some of these are the paints donated by Boysen during the yearly Brigada Eskwela, the two storey-four-classroom donation of Aboitiz Foundation, computer donations of various companies, financial support of various companies for feeding and medical missions, among many others.

In 2008, as Chairperson of the Committee On Education, he sponsored an Ordinance for the Charter of the City College of San Fernando to provide opportunities to students to pursue tertiary level of education. Last March 2013, the City College produced its first graduates who have enjoyed full scholarship since 2009. Another committee he chaired was the Committee on Environment. He sponsored an Ordinance enacting the Environmental Code of the City of San Fernando to protect the environment, restore waterways to lessen flooding, to provide clean and potable water to residents and to address global warming, a poignant concern for every global citizen.

In 2013, through an overwhelming number of votes, he earned the seat of the Presiding Officer of the 5th Sangguniang Panlungsod and as vice-mayor of the City of San Fernando for 2013-2016. Likewise on his own initiative, he continually provides medical missions and feeding programs in places needing these projects. He has also reached out to areas which have no access to potable source of water and brought them the “Water for Life Project” in coordination with the Rotary Club of Makati South.

Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on July 30, 2014.

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