By Raydes B. Barcia

Legazpi City – In an effort to promote and respond to the needs of the Albayanos, Vice Gov. Baby Glenda Ong-Bongao is pushing for women empowerment and an independent legislative council to address the plight of the Albayanos.     

Bongao is the first lady vice governor of Albay dominated by males in the past decades and said she is pushing a Saggunian that is proactive and sensitive to the plights of the Albayano.

Bongao succeeded the post of Vice Gov. Grecon Edcel Lagman through the rule of succession after the Commission on Elections removed from office Gov. Noel Rosal for election offense filed by Joseph San Juan Armogilla of Ako Bicol.

“Based on records of the Sanggunian Panlalawigan of Albay, I’m the first female Vice Governor of the Province of Albay to have been sworn into the office of the Vice-Governor,” she said. 

When asked what are the challenges she is facing as the first vice governor in a male-dominated world of politics in Albay, Bongao said that as first female vice governor she has high hopes of having an equal and balanced representation in the male-dominated world in Albay politics.

“I’ve been an advocate of women empowerment. My track record and body of work since I became a public servant can attest to that. And being the first female Vice Governor gives me high hope that what we’ve been advocating for is now coming to fruition. This is not about dominating the world of politics, but it’s about having an equal and balanced representation in the so-called “Male-dominated world”, she said.

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 executive programs that would gear 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 in making sure that our ordinances are geared towards achieving more inclusive development. No one shall be left behind as we move forward to a more progressive Albay,” she added.           

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

“Cognizance 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 Saggunian that is proactive and sensitive to the plights of the Albayano. 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 ng Albay,” Bongao said.        

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

Among the ordinances she passed during her incumbency as lady local legislator were granting 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 discrimination ordinance (sexual orientation, gender identity and expression. (Raydes B. Barcia)

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