July 25, 2024

The appointment of a non-Cordilleran as the legislative caretaker for Benguet following the death of Rep. Nestor Fongwan, Sr. despite the earlier appeal of provincial officials for a special election to the Lower House to fill the void is now proving to be a big challenge to the officialdom and constituents of the province.
Little did Benguet officials and residents expect that a non-Cordilleran would be appointed caretaker. Many quarters wanted a special election to take place with the Benguet provincial government expressing its intent to fund it as a caretaker either from Mountain Province or Baguio would be able to more promptly attend to the concerns of the people of Benguet.
Due to the fact that the late Fongwan was well-loved in the Cordillera for his display of genuine public service for more than three decades that contributed to what is Benguet today, Anti-Crime and Terrorism Community Involvement and Support (ACT-CIS) Party-list Rep. Eric Go Yap has some big shoes to fill.
Benguet deserves a working legislative caretaker to sustain the gains of the past lawmakers who helped the provincial government in making the province the most progressive one among the seven provinces in the Cordillera. Today, Benguet is becoming the envy of other provinces in the country for its many achievements that improved the lives of its constituents.
With a legislative caretaker filling the political vacuum, Yap must prove that he possesses the kind of leadership and managerial skills displayed by Benguet lawmakers before him. In fact, Yap has to reciprocate the overwhelming support Cordillerans have delivered for the ACT-CIS Party-list when it garnered the highest votes among all party-list groups with more than 83,000 from the region during the May 2019 elections.
We must remind the honorable legislative caretaker that his newest designation is not a walk in the park, as it entails a lot of hard work both in the Lower House and at the provincial level to give Benguet people the service they deserve. Just like what the provincial board said in seeking a special election, the province needs a leader who would bring in resources to ensure the successful implementation of programs, projects, and activities “that redound to the utmost benefit of the province and its people.”
We believe that Yap, who is relatively new in the country’s political scene, will not fail the people of Benguet and the sector his party-list represents. Proving his worth, Yap has authored 38 bills, two or three of which were signed into law, during his first seven months in office.
Known as a staunch supporter of President Rodrigo Duterte, Benguet and the rest of the Cordillera may soon benefit from his being the chairman of Games and Amusements, one of the highly-contested committees at the Lower House.
As an unsolicited piece of advice, the legislative caretaker must learn to appreciate the political culture of Benguet which will be a key to successful leadership. This is the reason why Cordillerans preferred someone from their ranks and familiar with the culture of people in the highlands.
The legislative caretaker cannot do his job without the support of the officialdom and constituents of Benguet. Albeit surprised with the turn of events, Yap needs great motivation and inspiration from all stakeholders of the province to perform his duties and responsibilities well for the next two years should the request for special election will not take place within the period prescribed by law.
While Benguet is now at the crossroads, it will soon overcome the challenge. The province has after all proven to remain dynamic and resilient despite the adversities it has faced in the past.