Mayor Arthur S. Cabantac Inaugural Address
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OFFICIAL TRANSCRIPT

“BUILDING LIVES, LIGHTING THE FUTURE”



(Inaugural Address delivered by the Hon. Mayor Arthur S. Cabantac
during the Oath-Taking Ceremonies, June 30, 2007)


The Honorable Leticia Nagal Rosete; Former Mayor Adan I. Rosete; Hon. Vice Mayor Jose Nagal Pajeta, Jr. and his significant other, Mrs. Erma M. Pajeta; Executive Judge Elpidio N. Abella of the Regional Trial Court of Alaminos City; Our Municipal Councilors led by Hon. Municipal Councilor Wilson N. Rosete and their respective spouses; Officers & Members of the Association of Barangay Captains and their respective Barangay Councils; The Members of the Executive Committee of my local political party: Mr. Jaime E. Santiago, Sr., Brgy. Captain Conrado N. Rosete, Mrs. Manuela R. Sison, Mrs. Felicidad N. Naraval, Miss Dolores N. Pecson, Mr. Homobono Calpo Mr. Isidro N. Brecio and Mr. Hilarion Cantillo; Brig. Gen. & Mrs. Romulo R. Cabantac; Mr. Regis Romero, Chairman of the Board, R-II Group of Companies; Rev. Fr. Bayani M. Liguid, Parish Priest of the St. Catherine of Alexandria Parish; Fr. Glenn Nino, Sr., Parish Priest of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente; Dr. Ester P. Casiano, Princpal II of the Agno National High School; Dr. Melinda N. Nagal, OIC of the District and Principal I of the Agno Central Elementary School; Mr. Aguedo Fernandez, Principal I of the Bangan-Oda National High School; Principals, Head Teachers, Faculty and Employees of the Different National & Barangay Schools; Insp. Bonifacio Gannaban, Chief of Police of the AGNO-Philippine National Police; Officers & Members of the Different Religious Oranizations The Senior Citizens’ Association; The Veterans’ Federation; The Business & Transportation Sectors; The Sangguniang Kabataan Federation; Officials and Staff of the Different National Agencies; My Fellow Public Servants in Government; Friends, Relatives, Guests; Good afternoon to all of you.


I

Looking at everyone, I could feel a sense of solidarity – the kind that can turn even the apathetic and the disillusioned into a firm believer of oneness of purpose. For this, I thank God for bringing us all together and saving us from the pitfalls of selfish politics. Indeed, today is a grand celebration; borne out of everyone’s desire to be one with the whole community. We are making history as our collective presence speaks of our commitment in preserving our town’s legacy of peaceful elections. When the people spoke through the ballot, the primary players listened to the people’s sovereign will. Today, our dignified response to the will of the people echoes this very moment. Let it be said that personally, I’m honored by the gesture of acknowledgment of our Honorable Mayor Leticia N. Rosete and Former Mayor Adan I. Rosete who, with their charismatic leadership for 27 years, served the people in the best way they could. Now, I shall succeed them with genuine hope that I could make a difference in the lives of our people. As we transcend our political differences, I exhort everyone to leave politics behind and face the future with an undaunted sense of optimism. The peaceful transition of the reins of government is a reflection of political maturity. For at the end of the day, politics is not a measure of power but of temperance.

II

As every citizen is a particle of sovereignty, I thank you all for the sovereign mandate you have entrusted me. It no longer matters whether or not you are a political ally, for this mandate shall see to it that our vision of an economically-progressive, socially-relevant & politically- mature municipality be realized. The compass of this mandate is reform and in our journey towards this direction, everyone will contribute his own light - the light of conscience to subdue the creeping darkness of corruption; the light of reason to diffuse the blinding glow of self-interest; the crystal-light of truth to ensure transparency, morality and legality in our actions; and the unbending light of the rule of law to lead us to progress, peace and unity.

III

The great task of putting across one’s vision does not culminate in an election victory. In fact, the greater task lies in the area of governance. When politicians come at loggerheads or worse, when politics rears its ugly head, the task of effective governance is compromised. The potent remedy to this is participatory governance and my administration shall put all stops to exercise decisive leadership based on consultation and consensus. It is in this light that I ask the Sangguniang Bayan, our local legislative body, to enact ordinances geared towards improving the lives of our people. If our municipality should take its place in the political and economic map of Pangasinan, projects that redound to the benefit of the people must have the full & uncon- ditional support of both the executive and legislative branches. When push comes to shove, however, this administration shall also not hesitate to flex its muscles within the bounds of law.

IV

To my fellow public officials, let it be a reminder that our mandate to uplift the lives of our town mates is not based on political expediency. When selfish motives lie at the core of public service, it is an abandonment of the moral high ground to lead. When public positions are treated as commodity, it is a concession against the best interests of the people. The responsibility placed upon us then is to restore the people’s faith in the ability of their leaders to rise above their personal gains. Let us then immediately buckle down to work, arrive at a common agenda and deliver the goods to our people.

V

We shall accelerate development and make our town at par with the more developed areas of Pangasinan. With our vast marine and agricultural resources coupled with an agile and industrious people, there’s no way we can not achieve the status of being a 2nd class, or even a 1st class municipality by the year 2015. For this, our battlecry should be AGNO-2015 (AGNO TWENTY FIFTEEN). To achieve AGNO-2015, however, there’s much to do, much to change and much to create.

The road to AGNO-2015 shall start with our economic agenda. I shall submit a package of development plan that will center on infrastructure. By making it the centerpiece of this administration, we shall be effectively addressing the 3 primary components in my platform of government – AKSIYON, REPORMA, TRABAHO.

VI

There’s an urgent need to fill the gaps in the delivery of basic social services. With this administration’s focus on infrastructure development, we hope to raise the quality of life of our people particularly those from the southern and northern barangays. The reality on the ground compels us to “put our money where our mouth is” and in my case, being a civil engineer by profession, the investment in infrastructure delivers the most cost- efficient output.

To you, our constituents, this I have to say: I shall use my technical expertise and my years of experience in the National Housing Authority not just to build structures, but moreso to build decent and comfortable lives. This we shall do by laying the groundwork for the construction of farm-to-market roads, irrigation systems, bridges, solar driers, mass housing & pushing for more aggressive electrification in the barangays and other basic services with great dispatch. I’m not comfortable with the idea that some of our town mates in the barangays have to traverse other routes in nearby towns just to sell their products here in Poblacion or peddle their wares in the nearby towns. Apparently, there’s still so much we can do in terms of building marketing linkages and infrastructure. A problem as basic as this needs a basic solution – and that is the establishment of a reliable road network.

VII

In the area of education, my thrust has always been tilted towards information technology. We shall see to it that our students, who will be the future leaders of Agno, are equipped with the skills and ways of this information phenomenon. We shall also endeavor to introduce internet access to complete an ideal educational structure attuned to the needs of the global information age.

Further, by the proper utilization of the Local School Board funds, we aim to establish a Scholarship Program for deserving students, Continuing Teacher Education for teachers pursuing their masters & doctoral degrees, Free School Materials for elementary pupils, among others.

VIII

In the health sector, it is now high time to provide our people with a wider range of medical & health services. The lives & health of our people can’t be prejudiced by by ignoring the importance of medical services catering to emergency cases and medical conditions needing special attention. I believe that the general populace shall reap the benefits of the establishment of our proposed COMMUNITY HOSPITAL. In this way, it shall complement the basic medical care dispensed by our Rural Health Units.

IX

Reform is the operative act in any change of leadership. It is necessary for the infusion of fresh perspectives and approaches in governance. Hence, reorganization is a logical consequence of this commitment to reform. I enjoin all local government employees to cooperate with the LGU Chief Executive in instituting policy reforms.

To ensure continuity in the affairs in the seat of government, we shall proceed with the reorganization in phases but with utmost adherence to Civil Service rules. Not least, eligibility, competence & performance should be the yardstick of civil service appointments and promotions.

In sum, what we should endeavor to achieve is the creation of an organizational ethos where everyone is amply rewarded for an honest day’s work in consideration of his noble service to his public clientele. It bears stressing that professional loyalty should attach more to the functions of your positions and to the people to whom you owe your jobs and less to the incumbent who merely exercises his appointing power.

X

Reform, however, must not only come from the civil service but must also emanate from civil society. In this case, leadership by example, both professionally and personally, of our local officials is the first step in embodying that genuine resolve to inspire and move our people into action.

Firstly, economic progress must come at the heels of moral and social transformation. Without reform in the way people conduct themselves in their homes and communities, there’s no way this town could move forward. For example, the reliance on games of chance reflects a loosely-wrung social fiber which ideally should bind the community in stability.

Let’s then take stock of our lives, assess the current situation we are in, recognize our weaknesses and do something positive to make our lives better and more productive. Secondly, there’s a need to revisit the role of public servants in the lives of their constituents. Our roles as local leaders do not only revolve around providing food, livelihood and shelter because this would encourage complacency, or worse, mendicancy among our people. Our primary role then is to build conducive economic, political and social environments so that our people can earn their livelihood through entrepreneurship and employment and thus sustain themselves and their families with honor and dignity.

XI

And when I speak about employment and livelihood, your local government is more than ready to take on the role as the vehicle for economic advancement. We shall devote a significant part of our resources to job creation by employing pro-active and creative approaches.

First, with our focal point in infrastructure, it would necessarily create a positive ripple effect in peripheral sectors. Not to mention the local labor component that would be absorbed by these construction projects.

Second, we must seize the opportunity offered by our town’s geographical advantages & natural endowments by zeroing-in on eco-tourism. Eco-tourism is a veritable driving force in the generation of jobs. By harnessing the potentials of our existing and underdeveloped tourist destinations, we are in effect bringing development in the far-flung areas of our town. When development cascades in the barangays, it is a telling indicator of the commitment of the local government to ensure equitable opportunities for growth. Tourism development, however, must always be in conjunction with the preservation of the environment.

Third, we shall generate jobs through the tried and tested One Town, One Product Program. To achieve this, we shall take efforts in the research, establishment and development of a truly AGNO PRODUCT – a product that can offer benefits that spillover to agriculture, tourism, trade, investments and institutional imaging.

XII

To the timid and the uninitiated, the programs I have just mentioned may prove overwhelming. But to the driven, hardworking and forward-looking - values which embody the indomitable AGNO SPIRIT, these serve as challenges to our common commitment in realizing our dreams.

And when I speak of dreams, let me be personal for a moment by proudly saying that I came from humble beginnings – luckily, the kind that has enough to sustain a family of 7 siblings. My parents, Angelico & Consuelo, who were dedicated public school teachers like many of you here, taught at the Viga and Cayungan Elementary Schools and painstakingly sent their children to school. From them, I learned responsibility at such a young age and more importantly, through them I was imbibed with the wisdom that in fulfilling my dreams and building my future, I have to work and take pains for them. So I did and dreamt big: dreamt of working and finishing school at the same time, dreamt of landing a job and rise from the ranks, dreamt of raising a family and provide them with comfortable lives, dreamt of starting a business and make good at it, dreamt of entering politics and public service and touch the lives of people. All my dreams came true because I had the strong will to make them happen. Had I relied on chances and sheer luck, I wouldn’t have realized my dreams. As they say, man proposes, God disposes – nasa Diyos ang awa, nasa tao ang gawa.

Before I end this address, let me extend my due respect to the Executive Committee of my political party who helped build my political base: Lolo Jaime Santiago, Manong Dadong Rosete, Tia Feling Naraval, Tia Loleng Pecson, Tio Bonoy Calpo, Tia Manuela Sison, Tio Sid Brecio, Tio Hilarion Cantillo and the late Tia Estrella Sison.

Let me also give credit to those true-blooded reform- thinkers whose candidacies for the mayoral post paved the way for my own – Manong Poldo Nino, Lolo Jaime Santiago, Kumpare Bongkil Sison, Manong Dadong Rosete and Mr. Conrado Soriano. History has judged you in good light.

But most of all, my gratitude goes to my family, the Clan of my grandparents, Fidel Espanol Cabantac and Josefa Ruiz, immediate relatives, supporters and coordinators who, despite my initial failure 3 years ago, remained with me and with unrelenting hope, helped me sustain a successful candidacy.

By the way, earlier I failed to mention that I have this dream left unfulfilled, and that is to have grandchildren. One day, my children will have their own families, build their futures and bless our family with grandchildren, who will be the source of unending joy for me and my wife. I will look forward to that day, but for the moment, I don’t have any reason to complain, I have you and the whole people of AGNO, and together, we have dreams to fulfill and a future to build.

Adu nga salamat ken Dios ti agngina kadatayo amin.


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