CITY OF SAN FERNANDO — Catholic priest Eddie Panlilio vowed to make the Kapampangan the “example of a new morning of politics in our country hungry for change” when he took his oath as Pampanga governor on Saturday.
As he did when he filed his certificate of candidacy on March 29, Panlilio and his supporters attended a mass at his old parish in Betis, Guagua town. At 10:30 a.m., he marched from a slum area across the provincial capitol, pushing a wooden cart carrying five children.
At 11:15 a.m. Associate Justice Consuelo Ynares-Santiago of the Supreme Court administered the oath to Panlilio. The governor laid his left hand on a Bible held by a farmer’s son.
For what always used to be a formal event here, Panlilio, 53, wore only a sampaguita garland, a white shirt with a collar, denim pants and leather sandals.
Some 3,000 of his supporters came, bringing food for the occasion. They released some 200 balloons when the ceremony was over.
Panlilio took the oath together with five provincial board members on a stage. Behind them, a large photograph of Mt. Arayat and a young boy running amid a rice field ready for harvesting loomed as a backdrop.
Speaking in Kapampangan, he summed up the thrusts of his administration in the following terms: “An honest and responsive government, a real and full commitment, a capitol for the poor. We are Kapampangans with dignity and pride.”
For honest governance, he said he and the provincial board agreed to review the development and investment plan and study further the budget.
He vowed to “clean very well the system” of collecting quarry taxes that will finance programs, especially roads and other infrastructures that will invite more investments for the people.
“We will open the capitol to all our people. We will open our books to all of you. We will open the bidding of projects to all concerned. We will open service to all those who seek it. I will open even my office and you will simply find in there present your new working governor,” he said.
“HEAL” – an acronym for health, education and livelihood — is his program for responsive government.
In his first 100 days in office, Panlilio said his administration will propose a new socialized medical care, start improving public school facilities and begin a feeding program for schoolchildren.
“Most importantly, we will see to it that all our students will graduate… and that their knowledge is competitive and sufficient to meet the demands of our country or the outside countries,” he said.
Microfinancing, he said, will give opportunities for jobless and poor people the means to earn a living.
“I will no longer speak on jueteng. You know my stand on this issue. If we could really concentrate and develop these programs on health, education and livelihood, people will forget about putting their bets on this infamous numbers game in our province,” he said.
Pampanga Archbishop Paciano Aniceto did not attend the rites as he officiated at the ordination of a priest. Outgoing Gov. Mark Lapid, reelected Vice Gov. Joseller Guiao and most of provincial board members and mayors were also absent.
In Pangasinan, Gov. Amado Espino Jr. vowed to bring the capitol to the people to whom, he said, “it rightfully belongs.”
In his inaugural address, Espino said the tradition of allowing people to take pains in trooping to the provincial government offices to air their problems must be reversed.
“Government must not only be accessible. It must be able to reach out to even the remotest places where attention is needed most,” said Espino, a two-term representative of Pangasinan’s second district.
Espino took his oath of office at the provincial capitol in the capital town of Lingayen. His oath was administered by Jonjon Montemayor, barangay captain of Malanay in Sta. Barbara town.
“In taking my oath [before] a leader of my personal choice — the youngest among Pangasinan’s 1,364 barangay captains — I wanted to convey the message that the governor is only as great as the lowliest official in our province,” Espino said.
He said that as a young man, he had often gazed at the capitol “almost with awe and veneration.”
“Not even in my wildest [imagination] as a poor boy from the small town of Bautista, Pangasinan, had I expected that someday I would stand before it as an elected governor of the province,” Espino said.
“My first act as governor is to listen… seek out the needs and concerns of our people,” he said.
In Cagayan, no oath taking rites for governor were held on Saturday as the Commission on Elections has yet to resolve the controversy in the contest between Gov. Edgar Lara and Alcala Mayor Alvaro Antonio.
“Whoever will be favored by the final canvassing for the gubernatorial seat in Cagayan will find himself [drawn] into a long court battle,” said Lara.
Lara said he expected Vice Gov. Leonides Fausto to take over as acting governor until the Comelec resolves the issue.
The provincial board of canvassers stopped the canvassing of results for the gubernatorial race and asked the Comelec to authorize the board to exclude the tally from Lallo town because of alleged falsification of entries in the certificate of canvass.
The provincial board of canvassers, however, has yet to reconvene and proclaim the winner.
In Baguio City, Mayor Reinaldo Bautista Jr. and Rep. Mauricio Domogan said teamwork and citizen participation would be the key in their respective terms.
Bautista asked residents to participate in his administration’s policymaking process and to share in the responsibility of governance as the city prepares to celebrate its centennial in 2009.
“[We should] start by working together… Each of you is a member of my team now — that is Team Baguio,” said Bautista in his inaugural address on Saturday.