Young, Efficient, And Resilient
BY BARANGAY DELA PAZ PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICE (PIO)
MOLDED BY ADVERSITIES, BARANGAY DELA PAZ CHAIRMAN JEFF NAVAL FERNAN HAS GROWN FROM THE SHY SK CHAIRMAN TO WHAT HE IS NOW—A STRONG LEADER WHO, WITH THE HELP OF HIS TEAM, IS DETERMINED TO UPLIFT THEIR BARANGAY.
Running government affairs has never been a walk in the park, as many think it is. More often than not, personalities are running for public office on a distorted belief that an election is no more than a popularity contest or a pageant.
But for 38-year-old John Felix Naval Fernan—or Jeff as what local folks would call him—joining the government goes way beyond public service as he hinted on the need to be equipped with a vision and the political will to transform plans and campaign promises into reality.
Twenty kilometers away from Manila is a village referred to as Barangay dela Paz, named after Antipolo’s patron saint Nuestra Señora de la Paz y Buen Viaje (Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage), which hosts the famous national shrine—the Antipolo Cathedral.
Twenty years ago, there was no sign of the young Fernan joining the political fray as he was focused on becoming something else. But as fate would have it, the ‘accidental politician’ found himself in the company of strange bedfellows.
Interestingly, the family from where Fernan hailed is no stranger to politics. In fact, his grandfather—the late Felix Naval served as the village chief (chairman) of Barangay dela Paz before climbing his way into the local municipal council. It was then that he realized that public office is no easy task.
To cut the long story short, the reluctant politician won as chairman of Barangay dela Paz Sangguniang Kabataan (SK)—a position he held while attending formal education at the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM) where he obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Administration.
Then SK councilor Fernan had his first taste of frustration, personally witnessing the bad side of public office.
In trying to stand his ground, he was isolated and became an instant target of what seasoned PR men and political operators would refer to as a demolition job.
“I must admit, my SK stint wasn’t exactly the same as I thought it would be. I became an instant sensation of ill gossips and political mudslinging—which should not be the case among the youth leaders among us,” Fernan shares.
But giving up wasn’t his cup of tea. He doesn’t seem to like the idea of quitting, which for him is tantamount to admission of fallacies hurled against him.
LANDMARK PIECES OF LEGISLATION
The next thing his detractors knew, Fernan was already an alderman (councilman) of the Sangguniang Barangay where he made his mark by sponsoring landmark resolutions behind what now stand as the permanent home of Barangay Dela Paz along Asuncion Street in the city proper of Antipolo and a satellite barangay hall for communities at the lower portion of the barrio.
More than the structure, it was also then Councilman Fernan who authored a resolution equipping the barangay health center not just with the typical band-aid solutions but also with medical professionals to attend to the medical concerns of the village folks.
During his stint as alderman, Fernan (the number one councilman) also pushed to institutionalize, centralize, and provide funds for the operation of day care centers for toddlers, provision of development funds for each of the 46 sitios, alternative learning system (ALS) and scholarship grants for poor but deserving barangay-based students.
I must admit, my SK stint wasn’t exactly the same as I thought it would be. I became an instant sensation of ill gossips and political mudslinging—which should not be the case among the youth leaders among us.
CALLING THE SHOTS
While many would find his stint as councilman productive, Fernan still finds it rather short of what the barangay folks actually need.
After two consecutive terms as barangay kagawad (local term for councilman), he was asked to run for a higher position where he can deliver much more than legislation for the multifaceted needs of the community.
Hence, he was elected for the fourth time—but this time as the chief executive (chairman) of Barangay dela Paz, where he immediately buckled down to materialize a bucket list of to-do’s with no fanfare, no ifs, no buts—just an effective governance embarking on the needs of each and every sector.
KAP JEFF’S BUCKET LIST
On his first day as barangay chairman, Fernan called on fellow public servants to revisit their mandate, deliver results and fulfill campaign promises for which were picked to run the community.
His bucket list includes environment, livelihood, education, health, peace & order, disaster preparedness, employment, gender empowerment, handicapped persons, senior citizens, government transparency and accountability, and restoring the integrity of the barangay via ‘door-to-door’ delivery of basic services.
“The trust that was bestowed upon us is more than enough reason for us to do what we are mandated to do—serve the people, no more, no less,” the barangay chief executive averred.
In just four years at the helm, Fernan institutionalized the Barangay Eco-Park where families, groups, among others, can take a glimpse of greenery well within the city, while allowing enterprising local folks to do business via the adjoining food bazaar.
Geographically located at the heart of the component city of Antipolo, Fernan also made sure that local folks well within his area of jurisdiction would be able to sleep well at night without worrying so much about burglars.
Taking advantage of the wonders of modern technology, Fernan literally kept an eye in all 46 sitios, which have been equipped with solar-powered lamp posts and closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras, on top of the roving peacekeeping forces on foot patrol and motorcycle-riding Barangay Anti-Crime Unit members for quick response.
It was also his idea to spare the residents from the costly and tedious travel to the barangay hall just to secure barangay certificates and clearances—or seek help by literally taking the barangay hall to various sitios every Saturday.
Aside from the barangay certificates and clearance, the weekly Mobile Barangay comes with an outreach program which includes medical check-up, medicines, treatment, haircut, circumcision, KUB (kidney, ureter, bladder) ultrasound, senior citizen and persons with disability (PWD) filing, feeding program, life-saving seminars, distribution of seedlings and saplings, community disinfection, etc.
The elderly (senior citizens) and PWDs also have a soft spot in Fernan’s heart as he was never remiss on their needs—maintenance medicine, wheelchair, crutches, walking sticks (or canes) livelihood, employment and many more.
Many would rather find it morbid but for Fernan, it is imperative to help the indigent folks in times of grief by way of providing free caskets, funeral services, and a little financial help from the barangay. To make Barangay dela Paz a livable place, Fernan also institutionalized the Barangay Materials Recovery Facility, regular creek and river clean-up, community disinfection, cash-for-work program and the strict implementation of the provisions of Republic Act 9003, otherwise known as the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.
Fernan also hinted on the need to preserve families via barangay-sponsored mass weddings and enhance gender advocacy via local programs and medical outreach missions (free Pap smear) in partnership with various government agencies.
Just like in any other barangay, Fernan admits facing a monstrous task in eradicating the drug problem in communities under his radar. However, he finds it rather effective to treat the drug dependents with empathy and see them as persons in need rather than a criminal through his CBDRP—SIPAG (Simula ng Pag-asa) program.
When the pandemic set in some time in March 2020, dela Paz was among the handful of barangays which earned the admiration of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) for the effective implementation of the public safety protocols.
And if there’s one thing that Fernan could be proud insofar as crisis management is concerned, the viral chaotic scenes during the distribution of financial subsidies never happened in his turf.
“It’s just a matter of reaching out to the people and putting in place a system that
would make it a lot easier to make both ends meet, Fernan ends.”