SAN Simon Mayor Abundio Punsalan Jr. is not new to public service when he entered the political arena in his hometown. He has been part of several local and international non-government organizations whose passion is to help uplift the lives of marginalized members of society.
But with the thousands of people he was able to assist and the numerous communities he helped developed, Punsalan always kept his dream of one day becoming the instrument in developing the town of San Simon.
During the conclusion of the May 2019 elections, Punsalan's dream came into reality as his fellow Simonians voted him as the next leader of their town. From that day forward, Punsalan said he vowed to himself that he will maximize his capacity as local chief executive to create better opportunities for his constituents and the community.
"Public service is always fulfilling for me but doing it for my fellow Simonians is a thousand fold fulfilling. And every day, I try to be better in making San Simon better," he said.
First 100 days
Even before officially assuming the mayoralty post, Punsalan started delivering his campaign promises to the people, including the arrival of the two fire trucks donated by the Republic Gas Corporation, which operates a refilling station in the town.
In his first few weeks, Punsalan also ordered the immediate closure of the D' Meters Field Corporation, which allegedly violated numerous environment and health laws, including the Philippine Clean Air Act and local Health Sanitation Ordinance.
Citizens who wish to air their suggestions and comments, or complaints against local government officials and employees were also given a platform through the launching of "Isumbong Mo Kay JP" hotline.
Punsalan likewise led the distribution of social pension to 552 senior citizens in town, which is only one of the numerous social programs implemented since he assumed the post.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency also declared the whole municipality as drug-cleared under his leadership.
Construction of several infrastructure, including the Municipal Dialysis Center, PNP and Bureau of Fire Protection buildings, Municipal Annex and Evacuation Center, and rehabilitation of major thoroughfares, has also commenced.
For the first time in the town's history, it hosted a national competition for table tennis whose winner will represent the Philippines in the international championship round.
Several ordinances were likewise implemented under his leadership, among which are the truck ban, tricycle ban in MacArthur Highway, Amendment of 10-Year Solid Waste Management Plan, and the Declaration of Persona Non Grata for the Communist Party of the Philippines-National People's Army in town.
The local government also strictly implemented the Revised Revenue Code, which led to the increase by over 100 percent in the town's hauling/truck fee collections.
San Simon cityhood
Just like any visionary, Punsalan hopes for the conversion of San Simon into a third component city of the province.
"At first, my dream was to make San Simon a model municipality in Pampanga but with how things are going and the support of my fellow officials and constituents, I am becoming positive that we can achieve more, including the conversion of our town into a city," he said.
He said his administration will remain committed in its agenda to develop all sectors of the society such as the education, health, agriculture, workers and youth, among others.
"Our vision is clear: to develop San Simon without leaving anybody or anything behind. San Simon will progress as one," Punsalan said.