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Albay’s first female vice governor bats for women empowerment

By Rhaydz B. Barcia

LEGAZPI CITY --- Former broadcast journalist Baby Glenda Ong-Bongao, the first female vice governor of Albay, is pushing for women empowerment and an independent legislative council that will ensure that the system of checks and balances remains in running the affairs of the provincial government.

Bongao who occupied the post of Vice Gov. Grecon Edcel Lagman by the rule of succession after the Commission on Elections removed Gov. Noel Rosal from the office due to the election offense that prospered. The protest was filed by Joseph San Juan Armogilla of Ako Bicol.

Bongao is the province’s first female vice governor, a position dominated by males. She said that she is pushing a Sangguniang Panlalawigan that is proactive and receptive to the plights of the Albayano.

“Based on the records of the Sanggunian Panlalawigan, I’m the first female Vice Governor of our beloved province who have officially been sworn into the office,” she said.

Asked what are the challenges she may face as the first female vice governor in a male-dominated world of politics, she said she has high hopes for the Sanggunian to have an equal and balanced representation in the provincial board.

“I’ve been an advocate of women empowerment. My track record and bodies of work since I became a public servant can attest to that. Being the first female vice governor, I have high hopes that what we’ve been advocating for is now becoming a reality. This is not about dominating the world of politics, It’s about having an equal and balanced representation in the so-called “male-dominated world,” she clarified.

Bongao, a former broadcaster of Radio Veritas Legazpi, started her political career as city councilor in Tabaco City for nine years before running for provincial board member during the incumbency of former governor now Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda of 2nd District of Albay.

When asked what remarkable legislation she will be pushing to address the needs of the communities in the geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas (GIDAs) in the province, Bongao said that she wants an independent council but cooperative and supportive to the programs of the executive branch geared towards inclusive development in the countryside.

“While we maintain the independence of the Sanggunian, we must support and cooperate with the governor in making sure that all PPAs of the PGA will be implemented. I’d like to have a Sanggunian that is cooperative and supportive of the executive programs,” she said.

“We will continue to enact legislative measures to ensure that our ordinances are geared towards achieving an inclusive development for the province. No one shall be left behind as we move forward to a more progressive Albay,” she added.

Bongao also said that she wants a council that is proactive and sensitive to the needs and plights of the Albayanos.

“Cognizant as we all are, my assumption of office was due to the rule of succession. I wasn’t voted for this position. I don’t want to think of it as a challenge, but I want a Sanggunian that is proactive and sensitive to the plights of the Albayanos. I’m lucky to have a colleague who came from different orientations but is no longer a novice in the arena of legislation. These are the board members I have worked with. I have immutable confidence in the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Albay,” Bongao said.

Prior to her succession as the first female vice governor of Albay, Bongao was chairman of the committee on women, children, family, gender and development committee on sustainable development goals.

Among the ordinances she passed during her incumbency as a legislator were the granting of cash incentives of P10,000 to couples who have been legally married and living together for 50 years; institutionalized programs, services, privileges and benefits for solo parents and their children in the province of Albay pursuant to RA 8972, known as the Solo Parents Act of 2000; enacting the manual for the Operation of the Bahay Pag-Asa for Girls under the provincial government of Albay;

The comprehensive code for the welfare of children; revised gender and development (GAD) code; revised tourism code; granting incentive and benefits to all qualified/entitled Barangay Health Workers (BWH) assisting in the implementation of health services programs of the provincial government of Albay; guidelines for Mayon Volcano natural park trekking;

Establishing and managing a referral system on trafficking and violence against women in the adopting a comprehensive program; the Maria ordinance (requiring all private and public transport terminals to establish a breastfeeding/ lactating station within their premises providing guidelines and penalties and the Albay Anti-SOGIE (sexual orientation, gender identity and expression) discrimination ordinance.

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