One of the youngest mayors not only in Iloilo province but in the Philippines described his first year as chief executive of Dumangas town as a breakthrough amid internal woes that beset the bustling town in the fourth congressional district.
In his State of the Municipality Address on Friday, Mayor Braeden John “BJ” Biron vowed to continue his initiatives of transparent governance and well-rounded service to Dumangas.
“It has been a year since you chose a future of good governance, a future of tangible progress, and most importantly, a future without any hint of corruption. We have achieved much in our past year together. We have also faced many challenges,” Mayor Biron said.
Among the internal issues Biron had to remedy upon assumption of office on June 30, 202 were:
-Inefficient Procurement Process
-Lack of internal control as to usage of supplies and other operating expenses
-Unsystematic Process Flow
-Absence of succession planning and outdated organizational structure
-Absence of General Services Office
Other externally the Biron administration tackled were:
-Unresolved problems in housing districts
-Unresolved transportation issues
-Non-functional Rural Health Units (RHU)
-Unfinished KALAHI barangay projects
-unaddressed sectoral problems
A year after, Mayor Biron said that with the help of his father, 4th district Rep. Ferjenel Biron, “Dumangas is experiencing a renaissance period in infrastructure development it has not seen in its history.”
“With the current ongoing projects and the projects we are planning to implement, we will see an investment of more than P800 million to develop our beloved Dumangas,” he added.
One of the major infrastructure modernization programs implemented by the Biron administration is the construction of the Haw-as International Sports Arena which will “revolutionize the sports and tourism of the town.”
The new Dumangas Market Mall project (Phase 1 and Phase 2), has already been awarded to contractors and will begin construction soon.
The market mall concept was initiated by Rep. Ferjenel Biron in their hometown Barotac Nuevo. The modern market is now a benchmark for other towns that aspire for a modern marketplace in their areas.
Biron said the market project focuses on the calls of vendors for a modern and orderly marketplace.
“Si Ma’am Wenelyn kag ang iban pa naton nga market vendors dugay na nagapangayo sang importansya halin sa aton nga gobyerno. This is why I have placed a strong focus on creating a world-class market mall for our vendors, and why I have been personally donating my salary as Mayor to them.”
The completion of Phase 1 completion of the Dumangas Coastal Boardwalk, a project conceptualized by former mayor, now Vice Mayor Onal Golez, has attracted the spotlight for the town.
Biron also announced that 17 new barangay projects will be funded by the Nacionalista Party through the help of Rep. Ferjenel Biron.
The municipality is also working on the procurement phase for the repair of the bridge at Brgy. Bantud Fabrica which was destroyed at the height of Typhoon Agaton in 2022.
As a primarily agriculture economy, Mayor Biron said the town has invested P94 million on farm-to-market roads that were funded through the Department of Agrarian Reform, the Nacionalista Party, and municipal coffers.
“Mangin masulhay na ang pagdala sang inyo ani kag mga produkto sa aton mercado,” he added.
To support farmers, the town also released vouchers for fertilizers and bags of certified seeds.
“We have distributed more than P20 million in financial assistance to our rice farmers, and we have invested more than P4 million to develop our salt industry here in Dumangas,” Mayor Biron said.
The Biron administration implemented several reforms in local government unit (LGU) operations to achieve his promise of an effective, transparent and corruption-free governance.
“With changes that we’ve made to increase bidding transparency and the establishment of our General Services Office, we have reduced our expenses by more than 50%. This gives us a total savings of more than P24 million. We have enforced a strict attendance and uniform policy, implemented an automated payroll system, created positions for succession planning, and we increased the salary of each job order in the Municipal Hall by 40%,” the young mayor said.
Mayor Biron also cited the case of a municipal hall worker who was promoted after more than a decade of being a job order employee.
“One story that I think encapsulates our commitment to delivering better service to you is the story of Sir Romel. Si Sir Romel 15 years na nga administrative aide naton sa Office of the Municipal Assessor. For 15 years, he has been a job order employee. But no longer. After 15 long years of faithful service, Sir Romel is now a regular employee of the Dumangas LGU. Mga kasimanwa, this is the new Dumangas LGU Operation, and we are happy and eager to serve all of you.”
One major promise of Mayor Biron in 2022 is to improve health services in Dumangas, particularly the rehabilitation of the Rural Health Unit (RHU).
“On health, you already know how important public health is to me and my family. Before you honored me by electing me as your Mayor, I had already donated medical equipment to our RHU worth many millions. Now, I am happy to announce that our RHU has been rehabilitated and is now fully functional to serve you again,” he added.
The Local Health Board of the town was also re-established to formulate programs and projects that will be implemented using the Special Health Fund.
“Through this measure, we were able to update and correct health records, process PhilHealth Accreditation, conduct medical missions, and maximize the budget of our Municipal Health Office,” Mayor Biron added.
Another critical issue in the town is transportation, being a major sea transport hub at the Dumangas Seaport in
Biron said they have made strong strides in transportation reform, particularly the holding of the Transportation Summit for meaningful dialogues with various transport sectors.
“We are working to further improve our transport sector with the construction of transport terminals and capacity-building seminars for our Dumangas Traffic Management Group and local PNP. You can expect further developments in our transportation sector as we work with various groups and sectors,” he added.
MATERIAL RECOVERY FACILITY
After several years, Dumangas has now operationalized its Material Recovery Facility (MRF) which is vital to garbage and environment management.
The project entailed the closure of the town’s landfill without displacing the workers, Mayor Biron said.
“Si Ma’am Melojel isa naton ka garbage collector sa aton nga landfill. We have closed down this landfill in favor of our MRF. Ma’am Melojel is now a segregator with complete PPEs (Personal protective equipment). All our personnel in our MRF will be protected as they take on this very important job. We have procured heavy-duty trash bins, and a plastic shredder to ensure long-term sustainability of our operations. Since the opening of our MRF, we have had a more than 244,000 kg increase in waste recovery. Our efforts were recognized as one of the LGUS with Ideal Performance in the implementation of Solid Waste Management.
A cornerstone of the Biron administration is holistic social services to the town.
“Our brand of governance is one of compassion, something my family has always ingrained in me. I did not join politics for self-aggrandizement. I did not enter public service for personal gain,” Mayor Biron said.
In this area, the town has improved its Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS) operations, which was highlighted by the release of more than P23 million to qualified beneficiaries.
“Almost 10,000 senior citizen beneficiaries were also served by our strengthened senior citizen programs. I am proud to say that these senior citizens benefited from more than the P41-million social pension budget from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Regional Office through the Office of our Congressman,” Biron said.
The mayor also donated his salary to the town’s daycare workers apart from assistance from the DSWD.
“I’m happy to announce that the DSWD has also extended its support to our daycare workers with almost P2 million. All this, we disbursed without the considerations of politics.”
The current administration also bolstered its Public Employment and Services Office which is a venue for employment opportunities for jobseekers.
“We have strengthened our support and renewed our focus on developing more jobs in Dumangas. This is a priority shared by our Congressman (Ferjenel Biron). In fact, almost P19 million from national funds was distributed to more than 4,000 qualified TUPAD beneficiaries in Dumangas. Again, without regard to the beneficiaries’ political identifications.”
TUPAD or Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers is a community-based package of assistance that provides emergency employment for displaced workers, underemployed and seasonal workers initiated by the labor department in partnership with LGUs.
As a young leader, Biron said the “development of our youth is something I am passionate about.”
The Biron administration established a Special Education Fund of almost P16 million for infrastructure projects in schools.
The town also feted academic achievers with an awards and recognition night in their recent fiesta.
“For our students who are struggling in their education, we have established a numeracy and literacy program with the participation of our dedicated and hardworking teachers. Wala sang estudyante nga mawigit sa Dumangas (No student in Dumangas will be left behind)!” Biron said.
In sports, Biron said his administration continues to provide financial support and equipment to athletes.
“Even our special education students will not be left out as I am proud to announce that they compete in this year’s Paralong Pambansa with the FULL SUPPORT of the Dumangas LGU,” he added.
With two more years left in his first term as mayor, Biron said “We still have so much work ahead of us to transform Dumangas into a premier and modern municipality.”
Chief among the major projects he aspires to in the next two years is the construction of a new municipal hall and other structures for various sectors.
“In the coming years of our administration, we will work to build our new world-class Municipal Hall. We will build a Senior Citizen’s Multi-Purpose Building. We will build a crisis center for abused women and their children. We will begin construction for Phase 2 of our Dumangas Coastal Boardwalk. We will establish a flood control project along the Jalaur River, along with other major flood mitigation structures. Finally, we will construct a sports training facility.”
Mayor Biron said his vision for the town will transcend future generations of Dumangasanons.
“All the work that we do is for the generations of our kasimanwas yet unborn. And when they come into this world, they will arrive in a town that welcomes them with warmth. They will grow up with the confidence that their government is working for them, for their dreams and their future. And they will go proudly proclaiming that yes, I AM A DUMANGGASANON!”