When Corazon N. Malanyaon took over the leadership of the Davao Oriental provincial government, the province was at the bottom of every list in terms of things that were achieved.
Malanyaon, already an accomplished politician in Davao City where she served as topnotch three-term councilor and vice mayor, decided to come home to the province in her desire to help find ways to improve it.
It was in 2001 when she got elected as congressional representative of the First District of the province where she served until 2007. That year she trounced the incumbent governor by registering the highest winning margin of votes in the history of the province.
But no matter what people, leadership is defined best when the leader and his or her people are tested while facing the worst of times.
On December 3, 2012, the day before supertyphoon Pablo struck the eastern part of the province, the so-called East Coast, the governor rushed back to the province leaving behind her meeting in Davao City so she could be with her people.
On that fateful day, the governor braved the rampaging wind in her attempt to go to the affected areas, where her house in Cateel was located.
The governor has been doing everything possible to ensure that those affected would slowly recover their lost lives. In the words of Asaka Nyangara, deputy country manager of the World Food Programme, the governor seems not to have lost energy in her rehabilitation efforts.
“I am always here, day in and day out, for my people,” the governor said.
The provincial government, despite the odds, was able to prepare for disaster, although what hit the province on December 4 was considered the strongest typhoon recorded in this part of the country.
But, of course. Not only did it receive recognition for disaster preparedness both national and regional, the citations were numerous. In the regional level, it bagged first place for three consecutive years starting in 2009, 3rd place in the national level in 2009 and 2010.
A testament to the efforts of the provincial government in the rehabilitation process of the devastated areas, the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council awarded the province the Bakas Parangal Award which the council awarded to the province on March 8, four months after the supertyphoon ravaged the towns of Baganga, Cateel and Boston.
Malanyaon’s leadership has been characterized by the continuing improvements in the lives of the people of the province. The most concrete evidence of these achievements are the accolades that the province has received, recognitions from both government agencies and civil society organizations.
Among these awards was Garantisadong Pambata Champs Award, a recognition from the Department of Health for its efforts in prioritizing children’s health through the delivery of basic child health services. The province got the recognition when the governor was just two years into her first term.
The efforts of the provincial government in bringing down malnutrition, the highest in the Davao Region at 17.7% before Malanyaon entered the capitol, has not been ignored. For two years, the regional offices of the Health Department and the National Nutrition Council awarded the province the Pag-asa Award for bringing down malnutrition to 6.32% in 2009 and down to 5.25% the following year.
In the following year, the agencies elevated the province as recipient of the Golden Agila Award, the highest as it was able to reduce malnutrition to just 4%, the lowest in the region.
HEALTH AS A PRIORITY
The provincial government has really worked hard by making health as a priority agenda. The governor, in seeing to it that her constituents need not only better delivery of basic health services, but also better infrastructure facilities for these services, decided to upgrade the once-rickety Davao Oriental Provincial Hospital, now the imposing building in the province all in white and pink, the governor’s color.
By instituting reforms in providing health services, the governor was able to make a virtually white elephant, the hospital, into a cash cow, earning about P100 million a year.
But beyond making the hospital earn, the governor has also assured the indigents of better healthcare, providing them with Philippine Health Insurance Corp. registration so that they can avail of the health services of the hospital.
“Health is very important,” the governor once told a reporter when asked why her administration has devoted much of its resources to health services.
Early this year, the regional office of the National Economic and Development Authority awarded the province the Davao Region Excellence Award in Project Implementation for the Social Development Sector for modernizing its hospital.
The award was bestowed on the province for implementing the “Davao Oriental Provincial Hospital Facility Transformation: Caring for the Poor Program”.
The health department did not ignore the reforms that the provincial government has implemented and Health Secretary Enrique Ona even wrote the governor a letter on May 16, 2012 and spelled out his appreciation on the support of the provincial government fot the programs of the department.
Based on the scorecard of the department, five of the local government units in the province were even among the top 10 performers in the health sector with Banaybanay leading the pack in first place, followed by Lupon, San Isidro and Governor Generoso in third place; Mati City getting the progress award; and, Tarragona receiving the special award.
Even the Armed Forces of the Philippines could not ignore what the governor has done to push peace and order development through an all-inclusive, comprehensive approach which runs parallel to the peace and development efforts of the military.
It was about a year ago when Lt. Gen. (retired) Jorge V. Segovia, then the commander of the Eastern Mindanao Commander, handed to the governor the Gawad sa Kaunlaran Award. The award recognized the contribution of the provincial government in the efforts of the military to implement peaceful initiatives as well as “improving the quality of life of the people within the military establishment.”
The military also recognized the provincial government for its efforts in improving peace and order in the province, citing the province as the most peaceful in the region.
The province, whose governor is a certified public account-lawyer, has also been able to implement policies that could improve its revenue earning capacity.
Its collection in 2011 exceeded expectations as it went beyond target by 113.15%. This earned the province the Highest Revenue Collection Efficiency Award from the Bureau of Local Government Finance as it was able to exceed targets in all four revenue categories that included real property tax, business tax, fees and charges and economic enterprise among all government units in the region.
In 2011, the Department of Agriculture also bestowed on the province the Gaward Saka Award being the overall champion in agricultural productivity.
The province got the recognition again last year.
But among the best awards that the provincial government received under the leadership of the governor was the Seal of Good Housekeeping which it received it 2011 from the Department of Interior and Local Government.
The seal, a brainchild of the late Secretary Jesse M. Robredo, can only be awarded to local government units that “score high in planning, budgeting, revenue mobilization, financial management and budget execution, procurement and resource mobilization.”
Among the policies that the local government must comply with, aside from good investment as well as development plans, it must have sound fiscal management based on its budget in the last three years and must be transparent in handling its coffers as well as imposes policies that eliminate red tape.
Transparency is very important because this will reduce, if not totally eliminate corruption and fund misuse.
Governor Malanyaon has continued to work hard for the province. Her efforts have not only been locally recognized, but even international organizations started paying attention.
Early this month, the 21-member board of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Culture Organization finally decided to nominate the majestic Mt. Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary into the World Heritage List.
The governor, who led a four-person team to Cambodia where the meeting was held, is hoping that by next year, the organization will inscribe the 6,834-hectare range, home of the 100-year old pygmy forest.
The nomination was the result of the painstaking efforts of the governor and the entire provincial government in complying with the requirements of the international organization.
Even Tourism Regional Director Arturo P. Boncato Jr. recognized how the governor has worked hard for the recognition.
When she assumed office in 2007, the governor, taking note of the importance of the inclusion of the range in the list, started working for compliance with requirements.
Normally, it would take a very long 15 years for a place to be included in the list, but for the province it was just less than half that long.
Truly, the governor has done so much since she stepped first on the first rung of the provincial capitol as newly-minted top provincial official. But surely, she can do so much more. By CARMELITO FRANCISCO