“YOU have given me a clear mandate, and a challenge (and) your trust is humbling.”

This was stressed by newly installed Bacolod City Mayor Alfredo Abelardo “Albee” Benitez during his inauguration last night along with other local government officials at the Bacolod City Government Center (BCGC).

Benitez said he would not waste this opportunity of a lifetime, this position that was entrusted to him.

He took his oath of office before Barangay Granada Captain Alfredo Talimodao, along with his wife, Dominique, and two children, Victorias City Mayor Javier Benitez and Bettina.

Bacolod Congressman Greg Gasataya also took his oath of office before Barangay 31 Captain German Bullolaza Jr. with his family, while the members of the City Council took their oath of office before Barangay Tangub Captain Noli Villarosa.

Of the elected councilors, Councilor Al Victor Espino was not around.

Vice Mayor El Cid Familiaran and Abang-Lingkod Party-List Representative Joseph Stephen Paduano also took their oath of office before Talimodao along with their families.

Benitez said he accepted the challenge to run in Bacolod City for only one reason, to bring change in the city.

He said many Bacoleños lost hope to recover from poverty, especially during the pandemic, and some have already given up on their dreams.

“Let’s bring back the dream. I wanted to inspire Bacoleños to dream again, and not just dream, but dream big. I wanted to present to the people a wider range of possibilities for Bacolod, better prospects for their families, and a brighter future for their children,” he added.

Benitez also expressed his gratitude to the people of Bacolod for their overwhelming support and giving him the biggest margin of victory in the history of Bacolod.

“I am confident that we will deliver on the promise of change – especially if we work together,” Benitez said.

He emphasized that the election is over, the politics is over, which means, its time to get down to work because many jobs await them.

Under his administration, Benitez vowed to restore the people’s trust in the Bacolod Government Center (BGC).

“Restoring public trust should be grounded in transparency (and) it is only by being transparent, by being accountable, that we can gain the trust of our people,” the mayor explained.

One of his first orders of business was to create a Good Governance Committee to nominate the members of the Bacolod Truth Commission that would investigate allegations of graft and corruption in the City Government.

It will also ensure that expenditures are prudent and efficient, and that public funds are utilized according to government procurement rules and standards.

He said that he had mentioned during the campaign that there would be no sacred cows.

“Let the chips fall where it may... There’s no politics but just work. We will start with a clean slate,” he said.

He added that they would come into the BGC fresh and new – with no baggage to weigh them down.

Benitez noted that he will also reengineer government transaction systems, and improve the frontline services for efficiency.

“This way the city government develops a closer relationship with the people (and) will accelerate the digital transformation of the city’s bureaucracy – and digitalize the permitting process,” Benitez stressed.

Under his term, he promised to harness the power of digital technology to enhance efficiency in city government transactions – and ensure impartiality and non-partisanship in the delivery of government services.

“We will also orient and train our front desk personnel to be courteous to our constituents, regardless of status in life....Our frontline employees are the face of the BGC”, he also said.

The new administration also promised to strengthen the capacity of the law enforcement agencies to ensure peace and order in Bacolod.

ON CRIMES

“Bacolod has been terrorized recently by crimes... I am giving orders to Colonel Thomas Joseph Martir, now director of the Bacolod City Police Office (BCPO), to intensify their anti-crime operations and increase police patrol and surveillance of hot spots or high-crime areas – and resolve cases as soon as possible.”

As he had pledged during his campaign, his administration is committed to allocating a higher budget to the BCPO, Benitez told the attendees of his oath-taking.

He said they will also invest in the installation of state-of-the-art closed-circuit television camera systems and solar-powered street lights for crime prevention and crime deterrence in hot spots and to improve the safety of pedestrians, especially the call center agents who are going home late.

“We will also clean the city’s image. We literally have to clean the city. Let’s start first by regulating the spaghetti wires,” he said.

ON WASTE MANAGEMENT, MARKETS

“My team is also already in the process of reviewing our solid waste management system. We will ensure timely collection of solid waste from households and commercial establishments – and its proper disposal in our landfill in Barangay Felisa,” he said.

Benitez will also invest in the rehabilitation of barangays or even private roads and open these to traffic to decongest the major roads as well as to further support small food businesses.

“We will invest in rehabilitating and rebranding our public markets. Central, Burgos and Libertad Markets should take center stage in our local commerce. We will also streamline the downstream food supply chain, and strengthen farm-to-market linkages to lower food prices,” the mayor said.

He said it’s also their topmost priority the establishing of the Bacolod Comprehensive Health Program as soon as possible, adding that they are also discussing how to build 5,000 on-site housing units in one year, and education for children.*