March 3, 2024

Normal operations will continue at the Benguet Congressional Office with the appointment of Rep. Eric Go Yap of the Anti-Crime and Terrorism Community Involvement and Support party-list as legislative caretaker of the province.
Benguet Board Member Nestor Fongwan Jr., son of the late Rep. Nestor Fongwan Sr. who passed away last month, said they are going to work closely with the appointed caretaker.
The 18th Congress through Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano unanimously approved the motion for the appointment of Yap as the caretaker of Benguet.
“As per record, the Speaker manifested the vacancy of the office and upon motion of Rep. Xavier Jesus Rumualdo, Deputy Majority Leader, Rep. Yap was unanimously approved to serve as the legislative caretaker of the lone district of Benguet,” Fongwan said in a statement.
Fongwan and his sister Marie Rose Kepes, the chief of staff of the late solon, met with Yap on Jan. 21.
The younger Fongwan said Yap has assured that the present operation of the Office of the Congressman at the Benguet Capitol and at the Batasan Complex will continue.
Also, the caretaker committed to see to it that the House bills initiated by the late congressman and all that he intended to accomplish will be attended accordingly.
“He assured us that there will be an open line of communication with us,” Fongwan said.  
Services to be continued include the medical assistance and scholarship funds for 1,057 students and 200 student applicants currently under the Office of the Congressman.
He said Yap would soon meet with the governor and the 13 mayors of the province to hear from them and synchronize his programs.
He said Yap is interested in implementing an “impact project” for the province, including the putting up of an action center, which is one of the main projects of ACT-CIS party-list, which is supported primarily by radio broadcasters Raffy and Erwin Tulfo, who are known allies of President Rodrigo Duterte, Fongwan appealed for the public to understand and respect Yap’s appointment.
News on the appointment of Yap as caretaker solicited mixed reactions from the Benguet community.
“We understand the reaction and sentiments of the people but we plead for understanding and respect. We pray that he would be true to his words during our meeting,” Fongwan said of Yap.
He said though they have initially manifested for the appointment of a Cordilleran as caretaker of the province, he said they will respect the Speaker’s decision.
“What we are asking from the community is that let us be hopeful, let’s pray that he will do what he said he will do and let’s respect his appointment as caretaker. Although our nomination is not followed, the decision is not ours to make. It’s the Speaker who made the decision,” he said.
Former Baguio mayor Mauricio Domogan echoed the sentiment of Fongwan but urged for the conduct of a special election for the province.
“The people of Benguet deserve to choose their own representative in the halls of Congress. A special election should take place. In the meantime, they should welcome and respect the appointment of Rep. Eric Go Yap as their caretaker,” Domogan said.
Earlier, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Benguet approved a resolution requesting the House of Representatives for the conduct of special election to fill up the vacancy of the congressional district.
Vice Gov. Johnny Waguis said they are still hopeful that a special election, which would be decided by Congress even with the appointment of a caretaker. – Ofelia C. Empian