PILI, Camarines Sur – It was evidently with some surprise and considerable elation that Governor LRay Villafuerte responded to numerous well-wishers who called and members of the media that successively interviewed him in the wake of his being mentioned in the State of the Nation Address (SONA) delivered by President Noynoy Aquino during the inaugural joint session of the 15th Congress last July 26.
Of the numerous local and national officials at the Batasang Pambansa, Villafuerte was among the very few singled-out and accorded recognition by the president in his first-ever state of the nation address to the people.
In an interview, the governor admitted that the accolade must have been a direct result of a recent visit he made at Malacañang where he presented a proposal to President Aquino on how to help government address prevailing national concerns.
Villafuerte is presently the executive vice president (EVP)of the League of Provinces of the Philippines (LPP), the official organization of provincial governors of the country where he also served as deputy secretary-general when he was first elected governor in 2004, then as national chairman upon his reelection in 2007.
Villafuerte took his oath as EVP of the LPP last July 20. He was elected as LPP representative to the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP) for the duration of his current and final term.
Villafuerte relateed that, even with some apprehension because he is not a member of the Liberal Party and supported an opponent of the president in the last elections, he requested a brief audience some two weeks ago, even for five minutes only, in order to present a proposal to the President. He requested LPP current president Gov. Alfonso Umali and Gov Jericho Petilla who are both LP members to accompany him.
The audience with the president turned out well beyond Villafuerte’s expectations with the requested five minutes extending to over four hours and P-Noy even treating him to a luncheon and a tour of Malacañang Palace.
Villafuerte’s proposal is a counterpart scheme whereby local government units could actively collaborate with the national government in addressing priority national concerns.
Regarding the countrywide shortage of public school classrooms, Villafuerte, as an example, proposes CamSur to raise P25 million this year that the national government can match with a counterpart P25 million that would amply resolve the classroom dearth in the province.
If replicated, by the rest of the 80 provinces, 150 cities and 1,500 municipalities allotting an amount they can afford and provided counterparts by the national government in equal amount, P8 billion can very easily be generated that would be sufficient to solve insufficiency of classrooms in the country at a stroke.
The scheme would equally be feasible for irrigation, farm to market roads and other agricultural projects, infrastructure, calamity and other concerns, Villafuerte added.
The proposal was very well received and appreciated by President Aquino, who commented further that he was quite impressed with Governor Villafuerte’s coming to Malacañang not to ask for but to extend help to the national government.
That in a nutshell was how Governor Villafuerte and the LPP were among those singled-out and given due recognition in the SONA delivered by the president.
On his part, Governor Villafuerte reports he was equally impressed with the president’s sincerity in implementing his programs to sanitize and improve government operations. – GBClaveria