GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/14 September) — Sarangani’s landmark provincial capitol building will soon be named in honor of the province’s “founding father,” the late Rep. James L. Chiongbian.
Sarangani boardmember Eugene Alzate said they passed an ordinance during its regular session on Tuesday officially naming the main building of the provincial capitol complex in the province’s capital town of Alabel as the James L. Chiongbian Building.
He said the move was in recognition of the late lawmaker’s pioneering efforts that led to the establishment of Sarangani as a new province in 1992.
“History shows that our province was created through the initiative of congressman Chiongbian so we deemed it appropriate to dedicate the provincial capitol building in his honor,” Alzate told reporters.
Sarangani was officially established as a new province on March 16, 1992 based on Republic Act (RA) 7228 authored by Chiongbian, who was then representative of South Cotabato’s third congressional district.
RA 7228 carved out the seven municipalities under South Cotabato’s third district into the new province. Chiongbian later served as the first representative of Sarangani’s lone district and his wife Priscilla as its first provincial governor.
Alzate said while serving as Sarangani representative, Chiongbian lobbied for the allocation of P55 million out of the infrastructure funds of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for the construction of the provincial capitol building.
He said the late lawmaker was able to include the funding for the capitol building’s construction in the DPWH’s budget as a member then of the House of Representatives’ public works and appropriations committee.
The whitewashed Sarangani provincial capitol building is considered as among the primary landmarks and tourist attractions of the province. The building has been dubbed “White House” in southern Mindanao with its grand neo-classical design reminiscent of the American colonial era provincial capitols.
Meantime, Alzate said they have set the re-dedication and marking of the capitol building’s new name during the province’s 9th MunaTo Festival and 19th foundation anniversary celebration in November. He said the event will serve as launchpad for Sarangani’s preparations for its 20th anniversary as a province next year. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)