REPUBLIC Act 7160 or the Local Government Code mandates Sanggunians that on their first regular session following their election and within ninety days thereafter, they shall adopt or update their existing rules or procedure. Among the activities according to the law is the creation of standing committees.
Last Monday was the start of their regular session and various committees were determined and chairmanships selected. The Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Pampanga has twenty two standing committees and all play important roles in coming up with effective legislation for the province.
Also, on the first day of the session after the assumption to office of the members of the Sanggunian, they should fix the day, time and place of their regular sessions.
The term Sanggunian came into use and existence under Batas Pambansa Blg. 337. While the Administrative Code refers local legislative bodies as either a Board or a Council, Filipinization fad institutionalized the word Sanggunian and its council members as SP Members or Provincial Board Members or simply BMs.
Going back, Vice Governor Joseller "Yeng" Guiao, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan's presiding officer, presented the draft of the prospective nominees for each committees prepared by some of the members of the Provincial Board. The Committees on Environmental Protection and Natural Resources and Public Works and Highways, Transportation and Communications however passed by secret balloting process.
The gentleman from Apalit, fourth district legislator Nestor "Bay" Tolentino became the chairman for the environmental committee.
Meanwhile, the gentleman from Candaba, also from the same legislative district, was declared to head the public works committee.
Tolentino is an engineer and a contractor by profession and a come-backing member of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan after being a private citizen for three years. His experience and track record are beyond question.
What used to be an unpopular committee, the Environment Committee is now on the limelight brought about by the focus of nations and states all over the world on climate change. The awareness for the care of the environment has been given emphasis and is a serious concern nowadays.
Yabut, a reelected board member, was by the way the former chairman of the Committee on Environment on his first term. He was successful in furthering advocacies and introducing innovations on environmental care. His "walang plastikan" legislation was a click. He was seen on many tree-planting activities and cleanliness drives.
Kong Ric, as he is usually called, has likewise been seen in many mangrove plantations and coastal areas in the province, being true to his mandate and chairmanship of being a green advocate.
Being an environmentalist myself in my own right, I am with the hope that he will maintain his advocacies despite his headship now to a different committee.
Yabut is also a contractor and a brother to Public Works Undersecretary Rafael Yabut. These brothers' expertise on engineering works shall complement perhaps to the chairmanship of the elected Yabut.
For the other committees with their corresponding political personalities, let me state the outcome of their first regular session.
Newly elected BM Terry Lingad of the second district chairs the Agriculture committee while the vibrant re-elected BM Cris Garbo heads the powerful committee on appropriations. Liga ng mga Barangay Ex-Officio BM is the barangay affairs committee being the president of the said liga. Education and culture committee goes to re-elected BM Edna David while family and women to newly-elected BM Trina Dizon. For health, trade and industry, it's newly-elected BM Monz Laus, a businesswoman by profession. Laywer BM Raul Macalino got the justice, human rights and rules committee, fitting to be because of his legal expertise. For the senior citizens, disabled and for social services, we have a newly elected Salvador Dimson. My good friend, re-elected BM Tars Halili now chairs the tourism, labor and employment committee.
Of course, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan will not function well if not for a great shepherd and steward that is in Yeng Guiao. Who would be better than him in terms of holding the baton while assuring the smooth flow of the legislative procedures? Like in his professional basketball coaching, he knows all his men's strengths, weaknesses, functions and playing expertise and he knows when to put one in or out of the game.
Vice Yeng holds the title of being a principled and disciplined fighter and a performing public servant.
With a new line of top-caliber legislators under a new provincial administration and committee chairmanships proper and well-placed, we expect a unified executive and legislative performances and accomplishments onward to a better Pampanga.