Catanduanes bids goodbye to its first woman leader
posted 14-Oct-2018  ·  
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Rosalie Alberto-Estacio may have served only a single term as governor of Catanduanes but three years as the first woman to steer the provincial government exposed her to vital issues that continue to reverberate even today.

She may not have gained reelection, having met a political juggernaut that decimated her party in 1995, but her handling of the capitol affairs proved her to be as capable as her predecessors.

A year earlier, in her second year, Gov. Estacio saw the plight of lowly employees of the provincial government, with those down below earning only P1,600.00 a month or good enough for a sack of NFA rice in today’s inflated prices. Moved by pity for their seemingly fruitless labor, she proposed a 20-percent across-the-board increase in the workers’ salaries which her allies in the Sangguniang Panlalawigan immediately backed.

The measure, however, got stalled in the provincial board as then Vice Governor Severo Alcantara wanted it deferred until his return from Manila. The expectant workers were understandably incensed and sought the help of the governor.

By the next session, it was Estacio’s appearance at the SP hall along with indignant civil servants who sparked the rift between the province’s top two officials even as the salary hike was eventually approved. In the next months, the vice governor would deliver a privilege speech that would accuse Estacio of various misdeeds in office, with not a shred of evidence to back it up according to her supporters.

Yet, the internecine political warfare between them did not prevent the chief executive and the board from working together.

Following the enactment of the Local Government Code of 1991, both the governor and the SP refused to accept the devolution of the eight district hospitals from the Department of Health (DOH). They held that the provincial government was not financially capable to sustain the operation and maintenance of the hospitals, noting that the P9 million advance given by the DOH was enough for only the first quarter of 1994. Their argument against the devolution of health services remains true today.

Despite the fact that the provincial budget then was miniscule compared to the P300 million kitty that the current administration handles, Gov. Estacio was able to marshal available resources in delivering needed programs and projects to the people.

A clear proof of her administration’s concern for the welfare of her constituents was the province’s being awarded its second consecutive Green Banner award from the National Nutrition Council. This showed that for the first two years of her term, she made sure that effective programs and activities were being implemented to prevent malnutrition, particularly among children.

Some may express doubt, but the fact that the 20% Economic Development Fund then was only a measly P20 million makes Governor Estacio’s achievement in the implementation of nutrition programs stand out from those of other chief executives.

The sterling example that she set in anti-malnutrition campaign against malnutrition is something that has proven difficult for her predecessors to emulate even with their bigger budgets. Twenty-five years since her short stint as governor, Catanduanes and most of its 11 municipalities are battling the same malnutrition problem, and barely gaining headway.

Her feat in those days is a tribute to her leadership, her skill in convincing her fellow civil servants and her constituents in bringing about positive change in societal attitudes in something as mundane as nutrition.


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