Former Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Benjamin “Benhur” Abalos Jr. has expressed his readiness to lead the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) under the administration of presumptive president Ferdinand “BongBong” Marcos Jr.
“I would like to express my deepest gratitude to our President-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. for trusting me with the Department of Interior and Local Government. At this time when there is a strong call for our nation’s unity, the DILG will play a paramount role in promoting peace and order and in bringing together our local government units,” Abalos said on Saturday, May 14.
Earlier, Marcos spokesperson, lawyer Vic Rodriguez, announced that Abalos accepted the DILG top post on Friday, May 13.
“Rest assured that I will do my utmost to foster thriving, peaceful communities throughout our beloved country,” said Abalos, husband of incumbent Mandaluyong City Mayor Menchie Abalos.
As Interior Secretary, Abalos shall advise the President on the promulgation of policies, rules, regulations, and other issuances over local governments, and oversee public order and safety.
The DILG assists LGUs in effectively and efficiently delivering services to their constituents and formulates policies, plans, and programs to enhance their local autonomy, focusing particularly on the administrative, technical, and fiscal capacities.
Abalos, a lawyer, served as chairman of the MMDA under the administration of President Duterte, replacing the late Danilo Lim who died in January 2021.
Abalos, however, resigned as MMDA chief last February to serve as the national campaign manager of Marcos Jr.
“I am extremely grateful to President Duterte for the trust and confidence in me to lead NCR (National Capital Region) during the most crucial time of the pandemic and for giving me the opportunity to serve,” Abalos said.
The incoming DILG secretary displayed his dedication to his job as head of the MMDA, leading the country’s capital with over 12 million citizens towards urban renewal and recovery from the pandemic, among others.
He also initiated and implemented a significant number of programs and projects. Among these are the pandemic response of the National Capital Region and the policies initiated through the Metro Manila Council (MMC) to further decrease the number of COVID-19 cases towards eventual herd immunity in the region.
As overall chairman of the MMC, the policy-making body of the MMDA, Abalos also initiated the “Vax As One” program of the Metro Manila LGUs and approved significant policies on the metropolis’ unanimous decisions and actions to achieve its common vision of protecting the health and welfare of Metro Manila residents.
Having a distinguished career in government service, he served as mayor of Mandaluyong City for 15 years (1998-2004, 2007-2016) and as the city’s congressman from 2004-2007.
He also served as city councilor from 1995-1998.
During his term as city mayor, Abalos was given several awards as outstanding city mayor, including the 2003 Local Government Leadership Award (LGLA) conferred by the Senate of the Philippines.
Abalos also gained recognition as a Galing Pook Awardee in 2012.
Project TEACH, a program that provides free services and intervention to indigent children with special needs, among others, also awarded Abalos the United Nations Public Service Award in 2015. He is one of the two local government officials in the country to have received the award so far.
Abalos also served as president of the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines and League of Cities of the Philippines from 2007-2010 and as executive vice president of the National Movement of Young Legislators and Metro Manila Councilors League.