(Last of two parts)
BY JOSE RENE GAYO
As Palawan governor, Salvador “Badong” Socrates implemented projects and programs that were considered pioneering. Among his accomplishments are the following:
1. Setting-up of the Palawan Economic Development Council (PEDC) which became the precursor and model for all development councils in the country and qualified the province of Palawan as an early recipient of various USAID programs.
2. Creation and operation of the Provincial Engineering Office that implemented his program for rural roads funded by local funds.
3. Piloting the Tax Mapping Program in Palawan, which was the first of the eight pilot provinces to complete the said program.
4. Construction of new farm to market roads with meager local funds, thereby opening areas for agricultural development.
5. Rural water projects and the creation of Paltubig, in cooperation with the Federal Republic of Germany, that provided potable drinking water in the rural areas.
6. Together with other government agencies, secured a loan package from the Asian Development Bank for the construction of the concrete north rural road (North National Highway) from Puerto Princesa to Roxas.
7. Co-founded the Palawan Electric Cooperative.
Due to his innovative and forward-thinking approach to governance, President Ferdinand Marcos took notice of the young Governor Salvador Socrates and appointed him undersecretary of the Department of Local Government and Community Development in 1974. His accomplishments as undersecretary of the DILGCD include the following:
1. Implementation of the Special Projects of the Provincial Development Assistance Program of the DILGCD as its Executive Director. The Special Projects included the Rural Roads Program, the Barangay Waterworks Program, and the Rural Property Tax Administration, among others. And through the BWP, rural areas gained access to clean and safe drinking water. With the RRP, farm to market roads were constructed in all municipalities, cities, and provinces, following a reimbursement scheme.
2. The strengthening and improvement of local governance in the entire country through various programs and continuous leadership trainings for local officials. He held his post as Undersecretary Department of Local Government and Community Development and as executive director Provincial Development Assistance Program from 1974 to 1986. All this time, he continued to perform his function as Governor of Palawan from 1967 to 1986.
Back as Governor of Palawan (1992-2000), Badong tragically was lost in the seas off Cagayancillo Island. His figured in a plane crash and his body was never found. But his contributions to the development of Palawan and the entire country will never be lost.
But more than his accomplishments, it was his humility, empathy and approachability that earned him the affection of his constituents and the admiration of his colleagues. An honest, dedicated, hardworking public servant with a sincere love for Palawan and its people. That is the way Badong is remembered in Palawan until this day.
As someone who was born and spent his childhood in La Carlota City, he deserves to be recognized as one of the outstanding Negrenses. His story should be told to all our students as part of the history of Negros. It should inspire us all that no matter what your background is, how humble it may be, but if one gives his best shot, he or she can rise and be a beacon of hope for our young people.
Postscript. His son Dennis Victorino is the Vice-Governor of Palawan (on his third term) and his daughter Nancy is now the Vice Mayor (on her first term) of Puerto Princesa City. I was fortunate to have known both and I heard this story from VG Dennis.*
The author is the executive director of St. John’s Institute, was the founding dean of the School of Management, University of Asia and the Pacific (1996-2004), and executive director of PAREF Southridge School in Alabang (2005-2008).