BONTOC, Mountain Province – Bontoc municipality continues to raise the bar of excellence as it gains headway being a recipient of various prestigious national and regional awards and being on track in the implementation of programs and projects.
This was evident in the message of third-termer Mayor Franklin Odsey when he delivered his last State of the Municipality Address (SOMA) on February 7, 2022, at the Bontoc Municipal Capitol Auditorium.
Bontoc had been a consistent awardee of the National Seal of Good Local Governance (SGLG) in 2016, 2017, and 2018, the highest award accorded by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to local governments. It encapsulates the exemplary performance of an LGU in government service.
The municipal government is also the only municipal government in the Philippines that was adjudged Hall of Famer in the Most Outstanding Accounting Office given by the Association of Government Accountants of the Philippines (AGAP) in 2019.
Bontoc was qualified for the Performance-Based Bonus and was awarded the Best Performing Local Anti-Drug Abuse Council, both in 2019 and 2020.
In 2021, Mayor Odsey earned the distinction of DRRM-H Local Chief Executive Champion.
Bontoc was one among the only five local governments in Cordillera to be conferred the Dugong Bayani Award 2021 by the Department of Health in partnership with the Philippine Blood Center.
In 2021, Bontoc was awarded by the Office of the Civil Defense as Beyond Compliant for its efforts in disaster risk reduction and management.
With all the awards received, the chief executive gave a clear view of the operations of the municipal government and how its budget is divided to cater to the different sectors reaching the grassroots level – the barangay. The substantial increase comes from increases in Internal Revenue Allotment and increases in local collections. The increase in the budget is attributed to the intensified information education and communication campaigns and increase in the number of personnel of the Treasury Office. With the increase of the budget every year, the municipal government was able to sustain and increase funding for its project and programs and was able to accommodate new programs for the benefit of the people and the municipality.
In his straight three terms, all the programs of his administration have been anchored of his vision “Bontoc On The Rise” which encompasses the five pillars of governance to include People-Centered Service, Disaster Preparedness and Resiliency, Youth Development, Shared Prosperity, and Sustainability and Health.
On People-Centered Service, the municipal government endeavored to deliver quality service to the public and to efficiently respond to the emerging needs of the community by the creation of new and necessary offices, and adding personnel to existing offices. When the mayor took his oath of office during his first term in 2013, there were 122 permanent employees. This increased by 74% or equivalent to 190 regular employees in 2021. In 2021 alone, 22 new permanent employees were hired while 31 current employees were promoted.
Aside from permanent positions, the municipal government employed job orders. From 267 in 2013, this increased to 500 in 2021. College and high schools students were likewise provided temporary employment through the Special Program for the Employment of Students (SPES) of the Department of Labor and Employment in partnership with the Bontoc LGU.
The municipal government sourced out funds for the Tulong Panghanapbuhay para sa Ating Displaced/Disadvantaged Workers (TUPAD) Program from Department of Labor and Employment, Ang Probinsyano Partylist and the Office of the Congressman Maximo Dalog, Jr.
An amount of P478, 000 was accessed by the municipality which was provided to the LAYAD PWD Organization for their livelihood project.
Since his first term in 2013, various programs have always been incorporated in the annual budget to help address the needs of the vulnerable sectors in the community. With this, P243, 000 cash assistance was released to 26 cancer, heart surgery, and first-time dialysis patients.
Other social services programs include burial assistance (death due to accidents); emergency shelter assistance to families whose houses have been damaged by fire, erosion, or earthquake; aid to Senior Citizen Organization per barangay; Mortuary Aid for Senior Citizens; Search for Most Functional Barangay Senior Citizen Organization; Search for Most Child-Friendly Barangay; and Children’s Month Celebration.
To cater to emerging needs to address the capital town’s disaster preparedness and resilience, it was during the present administration that the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (MDDRMO) was created. From one personnel in 2015, this increased to seven permanent personnel in 2021. Various capability and skills trainings were spearheaded by the MDRRMO to provide a higher level of skills competency during response and rescue operations. Likewise, various infrastructure projects were funded from the Calamity Fund such as installation of early warning devices and signage along with flood and landslide-prone areas, installation of convex mirrors along Bontoc-Dalican, and Bontoc-Maligcong Roads, and installation of fire hydrants. Also, the bulk of the budget of the Calamity Fund was used in the COVID-19 response of the municipality.
A teacher by profession, education has always been one of the mayor’s major programs since he started his political career. Some of these are the financial assistance to each municipal student grantee per semester; increasing the municipal counterpart in the Special Program for the Employment of Students (SPES); giving of cash incentives to students who bring home medals in provincial, regional, national, and international sporting events and academic competitions.
In response to blended learning brought by the pandemic, the municipal government purchased and distributed copiers, inks, and bond papers to schools for the reproduction of learners’ modules. personal protective equipment, gallons of alcohol, thermometers, and handwashing facilities were provided to the different schools.
Likewise, the Special Education Fund amounting to P1, 181,462.88 were proportionately allocated to elementary and high schools. Each school received P28, 965. The said fund was downloaded to the respective schools for the latter to independently allot the budget according to the school’s needs.
The Bontoc Municipal Library has always been catering to learners, teachers, and the public even during the pandemic. Aside from new and quality books purchased by the municipal government and book donations from the National Book Development Board and Mapua University, the Bontoc Municipal Library offers free use of computer units and internet to the public for research purposes and online government transactions such as application of NBI clearance.
In addition, the municipal government earmarked from its budget almost P500, 000 for the conduct of the Youth Leadership Summit in various barangays.
On Shared Prosperity, various infrastructure projects were funded under the municipal government and linkages from the national government. Noteworthy is the completion of the Manggid Water System which has been a promise of Mayor Odsey to be completed before his term ends. With sufficient water supply in the four barangays of Bontoc solved, the mayor expressed high hopes that the next administration will install the water metering.
Also, the municipal government was able to access funds from the national government agencies in the implementation of its livelihood programs.
The municipal government was able to access cash assistance of P5, 000 each distributed to the 117 fisherfolk in the municipality.
Odsey also noted an increase in the number of business establishments and an increase in domestic and foreign tourist arrivals before the pandemic struck that contribute to boost the economy of the capital town.
On Sustainability and Health, Bontoc holds the highest COVID-19 vaccination rate in Mountain Province.
In terms of nutrition, the 11.5% stunting rate of children in 2018 had gone down to 4.73% in 2021.
On environmental sustainability, noteworthy is the improvement of the Am-ancho Waste Processing Facility. Improvements include having an MRF, composting facility, bottle crushing facility, a tree-nursery, eco-block making, and the final construction phase of the engineered sanitary landfill.
With the harmonious alliance and working relationship between the local chief executive and the Sangguniang Bayan, numerous ordinances and resolutions were passed. Notable ordinances are the grant of hazard pay to MDRRMO personnel; grant of hazard pay to the personnel of the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office; institutionalization of the Financial Assistance Program for the Green Police; institutionalization of the Financial Assistance to Early Childhoods Care and Development (Day Care) workers; institutionalization of Financial Assistance Program to the members of the Lupon/ Barangay Peacekeeping Action Teams (BPATs) and Katarungang Barangay; institutionalization of Oplan Pera Sa Basura Program; institutionalization of the Financial Aid to Barangay Health Workers Program; institutionalization of the Weight Loss Program; creation of new positions in the different office; and adoption of the lyrics and music of “Bontoc the Beautiful” as the official Municipal Tourism Song of Bontoc.
The mayor credited the accomplishments and the numerous national awards received by the municipality to the people of Bontoc and its partner agencies.
“Whatever gains Bontoc had, it is because we have worked together. Whatever challenges lie ahead, I am confident that Bontoc will pull through, overcome, and continue to rise,” Odsey remarked.
In attendance were municipal officials and employees, barangay officials, Tanods, Lupong Tagapamayapa, Barangay Health Workers, senior citizens, members of the business sector, different civic society organizations, and representatives from the national government agencies. By Alpine Killa- Malwagay