LA TRINIDAD, Benguet -- Despite the recommendation of the family of late Benguet congressman Nestor Fongwan Sr., Benguet Board Member Nestor Fongwan Jr. on Thursday urged stakeholders to support newly appointed caretaker and ACT-CIS Party-list Congressman Eric Go Yap by the House of Representatives.
“We understand the reaction and sentiments of the people. We feel what they are trying to tell us. We respect the appointment made by the speaker although the recommendation of the family was not followed,” Fongwan Jr. said.
The family earlier forwarded to the Congress their wish for the caretaker that included the congressman from Cordillera region.
On January 21, Yap convened with the Lone District of Benguet Chief of Staff Marie Rose Fongwan-Kepes and the board member to open communication for the smooth operation of the office and to assure that the bills initiated by Fongwan Sr. will be attended.
Fongwan Jr. added Yap expressed to visit the Benguet capital town to set meeting with the provincial governor and 13 mayors of the province to synchronize programs of the caretaker and the provincial government.
The new caretaker also relayed plans with the kin to put up an ACT-CIS Action Center in the province to cater to medical and burial assistance for the public while the Office of the Congressman at the provincial capitol and at the Batasan Complex will continue to operate and all correspondence of the legislative district of Benguet be addressed to the assigned caretaker congressman.
He disclosed before the demise of Fongwan Sr., scholarships and medical assistance in the province were already allocated from the P3 billion approved national expenditure for Benguet.
Of the 100 million soft projects for the province, 30 percent comprised of P1.5 million DOLE Tupad Program, P7.5 million alloted for Benguet General Hospital, P2 million Philippine Health Center, P15 million for scholars, P7.5 million for DSWD, and P1.5 million for Baguio General Hospital.
There are existing scholars of 1,057 students and additional 200 applicants.
Yap is part of the ACT-CIS Partylist also known as the Anti-Crime and Terrorism Community Involvement and Support Partylist who topped the May 2019 elections with the political organization given three seats in the House of Representatives.
Yap authored 39 bills and co-authored two bills in Congress. He currently chairs committee on games and amusements and vice-chair for government enterprises and privatization, and committee on ways and means.
In his social media page, he acknowledged the appointment of the House of Representatives led by Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and assured people of Benguet continuous progress for the province.
“At sa mga kapwa natin Pilipino sa Benguet, tinatanggap natin ng buong puso ang hamon na ito at asahan ninyo na gagawin natin ang lahat ng ating makakaya upang tuloy-tuloy ninyong maramdaman and tunay na serbisyong publiko. Agtitinulung tayu tapnu agtultuloy ti progress ti Benguet. Agyaman ak kadakayu,” he said.
Yap’s appointment drew mix reactions from netizens and Benguet residents where some got surprised, dismayed and hopeful.
To recall, when Mt. Province Maximo Dalog Sr. died in 2017, Kalinga representative Allen Jesse Mangaoang was named as the caretaker of the province.
Meanwhile, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said the conduct of special election will now depend on the House of Representatives, according Benguet Provincial Election Supervisor lawyer Elenita Capuyan- Tabangin.
Under the law, Comelec is mandated to fix the date of the special election, which should not be earlier than 45 days and not later than 90 days from the date of such resolution or communication.
Republic Act After 6645 known as the act prescribing the manner of filing vacancy in the Congress states in a case a vacancy arises in the Senate at least 18 months or in the House of Representatives at least one year before the next regular election for members of Congress, the Commission on Elections, upon receipt of a resolution of the Senate or the House of Representatives, as the case may be, certifying to the existence of such vacancy and calling for a special election, shall hold a special election to full such vacancy.
She disclosed in case there will be one candidate for the special election, under Republic Act 8295, there will be no special election, rather, the commission will certify the lone candidate followed by proclamation.
One candidate also entails less expenses for the province. Capuyan-Tabangin recalled no special elections were held when Dalog Sr. died in 2017.
Not all vacancies in Congress resulted in a special election. To save money, the speaker appoints a caretaker representative from a nearby district.
Members of the Benguet Provincial Board approved a resolution on January 13 calling for the conduct of special election in the province after the death of the lawmaker. The resolution was supported by the municipal council of La Trinidad.
“The winner in the special election enjoys a fresh mandate from the people to govern and implement programs, projects and activities that redound to the utmost benefit of the province and its people,” Resolution no. 2020 said.