San Jose reared many persistent leaders; each adapted to his time, from Kapitan Municipal Don Canuto Ramos to the current First Lady City Mayor, Marivic V. Belena. These men and women who filled more than a century of exciting and eventful administration during their terms of office are worthy and deserving to be mentioned.
In 1952, San Jose entered a new era of change. A young Ilocano lawyer, Atty. Arturo Pascual, was elected Municipal Mayor. Having been an active guerilla officer in the underground movement during the occupation and attaining the rank of Lieutenant under the Judge Advocate General Office (JAGO) at the time of his honorable discharge in the early days of the liberation, he was tempered with the necessary discipline to lead. His being a practicing lawyer and eventual appointment as Justice of Peace of Carranglan, Nueva Ecija, honed his expertise and grasp of law. His appointment as Secretary of the Provincial Board of Nueva Ecija equipped him with a broad knowledge of local government administration at the provincial and municipal levels, while his appointment as Municipal Councilor in San Jose directly involved him in local legislative functions. All of these prepared Mayor Pascual well for the task of nation building.
Mayor Pascual restored peace and order especially in the rural areas. Policemen were stationed in the rural areas thereby restoring decency and morality. San Jose by then was facing multifarious problems such as vices, thievery, banditry and disorder, which were compounded by the Huk problem. Public hearings and group consultations were initiated. The Complaints and Performance Section in the Local Government Unit was organized which was directly under the Office of the Mayor. Police precincts were set-up in strategic places within the poblacion, and a police telephone network was installed. Commando teams were organized to go after cattle rustlers who were then the bane of farmers. Mayor Pascual personally led sporadic raids against dissident's camps. He undertook massive feeder road building program with the objective of linking all of the 33 barrios of San Jose to the Poblacion proper. This increased mobility in crime control and boosted the marketing of rural produce to the center of trade and commerce in the municipality.
Simultaneously, schools up to the intermediate level were established in strategic barrios with at least a primary school in other smaller barrios including far-flung sitios. He also effected the reconstruction of the public market building, which was badly damaged during the war. Mayor Pascual relentlessly pursued these government programs for three consecutive terms from 1952-1963.
The span of year from 1964-1967 saw a change in the executive set up of San Jose. Another Ilocano lawyer, who is a member of one of the oldest and founding families of the town in the person of Atty. Evaristo Llena, was elected Municipal Mayor. He was an uncompromising leader. In spite of the many obstacles he faced, he surpassed the achievements of his predecessors. Being a dedicated farmer, personally tilling his own land-holdings, he contributed much towards the establishment of rapport between the different government and non-government agencies in the province especially with farming groups in the community. Though funds were very limited, he nonetheless effected good maintenance of existing facilities such as school buildings and feeder roads. He was also responsible for the Construction of a Mini-Dam at Tabulac, a number of PCSO multi-purpose buildings and the expansion of the existing Municipal Hall.
In 1968, Atty. Arturo Pascual came back to local politics. He was elected Mayor for the fourth time. With borrowed and rented heavy equipments from the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), he started the re-shaping and widening of feeder roads. Additional feeder roads were constructed linking the different sitios to the barrio proper. Marcos type, Army type and Pascual type two-room school buildings were constructed to augment the existing classrooms.
On September 14, 1968, the commercial center of San Jose was burned to ground. Rehabilitation work was pushed through despite pressures from so many quarters to establish temporary structures. He stood pat in his decision to strictly enforce the Building and Zoning Code especially in the commercial center. The construction of concrete two-storey building with uniform arcaded sidewalks is therefore credited to his name. The old municipal nursery site adjacent to the public market was made devoid of squatters for the construction of a modern public market, which was known, as the "North Nueva Ecija Exchange Center" that cost 1.3 million pesos.
Through the efforts of Congressman Angel D. Concepcion, and by virtue of Republic Act No. 6051, otherwise known as "The Charter of San Jose City", the then municipality of San Jose was chartered as a City. President Ferdinand E. Marcos signed the charter at the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement headquarters in Nieves, San Leonardo, and Nueva Ecija on July 17, 1969. The President formally organized the City Government on August 10, 1969. Mayor Arturo B. Pascual was sworn into office as the first City Mayor of San Jose City.
City-hood was a turning point in the history of San Jose. With it, the different city departments were organized. Other national agencies established branches in the area. Massive infrastructure development and construction immediately took place with the organization of the City Engineering Department, which was given full fleet of light and heavy equipment.
Other notable projects were undertaken during this time. The city hall was improved with the addition of the Mayor's Office, which likewise functions as a conference room. The City Jail was also improved. Moreover, a two-storey Justice Hall was constructed which houses the two branches of the City Court, the Court of Agrarian Relations and the Court of First Instance. The San Jose City General Hospital temporarily held office at the former Municipal Welfare Administration Clinic while a million-peso permanent Imelda Type Emergency Hospital was being constructed.
In addition, Mayor Pascual constructed a community college, which was later made part of the school area of the Constancio Padilla National High School. Likewise, two Barangay High Schools offering complete four-year academic secondary course in Porais and Tondod have been established.
In the field of tourism, the city has developed the Palasapas Falls and has built a three-kilometer access road thereto from the main road artery. The Municipal Park which is adjacent to the UPRP-NIA Park in Camp 4th, Tayabo was also improved. Inside the city proper, fronting the City Hall, a cemented social circle was jointly constructed by the Presidential Arm and Community Development (PACD) and the City Government. It serves as a venue for social activities. A long concrete flower box cutting across the commercial center and dividing Daang Maharlika which was provided with globular mounted lamps were expanded to cover the entire commercial area of the city.
In 1972, Mayor Pascual was again re-elected as City Executive thereby having the distinction of being the first City Mayor elect of San Jose. With his fifth term as a local chief executive, it afforded him all the chances to pursue his program of government geared to the improvement of the quality of life of the people.
In December 1977, Vice Mayor Benjamin R. Saturno was designated Officer-in-Charge of the city by President Marcos in lieu of Mayor Pascual who underwent medical treatment in the United States. A man of the masses, City Mayor Saturno enjoyed the support of the citizenry especially the small workers and farmers. He mingled freely with the people, listened to their problems and tried to lay down the course of the city for the next several years. His most notable accomplishment was the preparation and approval of the First Position Classification and Pay Plan (PCPP) of the city, a project that greatly professionalized government services and paved the way for more meaningful personnel development. He held the mayoralty post until December 10, 1979. On December 11, 1979, Atty. Amor V. Belena, a known civic leader, businessman and former BIR official assumed the post by virtue of an appointment from the President of the Philippines.
His first strategic action was the intensification of the city's revenue collection efforts considering the meager finances of the city. His past experiences as a BIR man paid off as the city's coffer began to grow. He was successful in motivating the business and private sectors to cooperate in the city's development including civic action programs for the poor, tree-planting, anti-drug abuse campaigns, animal dispersal and livestock breeding program, school building and many others. The people's trust in him was manifested by his landslide victory against his opponents in the January 30, 1980 local election.
Mayor Belena's achievements were, in manner of speaking concretely felt. He was widely known for his never-ending parade of infrastructure projects, which transformed San Jose City into a bustling metropolis. Streets in the city proper were cemented; drainage canals were dug, and bridges were constructed. The Belena Type School Building became famous for its solid, beautiful design, which was built to last for many generations. He has built many landmarks during his term which among others include the BLISS Project at Barangay Malasin, the Welcome Marker at Barangay Sto. Tomas which was built in cooperation with the BSK, the livestock "Oksyon" market, the artificial breeding center at Abar 1st, the modern street lights along Daang Maharlika and other main thoroughfares, and the new buildings of the City Public Market (Building C). In 1985, the city appropriated nine million pesos for infrastructure projects, certainly a big leap over of the previous years.
Mayor Belena was temporarily replaced on May 15, 1986 with the designation of Dr. Eleuterio R. Violago as Officer-In-Charge of the city due to massive structural changes in the National Government brought about by the EDSA Revolution.
However, on January 18, 1988, Mayor Amor Belena was re-elected into office, a manifestation that he is still loved by the people. A more meaningful development program was launched in the city. Consequently, his efforts and funding support doubled.
The year 1992 ushered in a new chapter in the history of San Jose. With an overwhelming mandate, the people opted for a change in leadership by electing Atty. Jose C. Felimon as their new leader. It was their expectation that more meaningful development and speedy progress would follow. To this challenge, the new administration responded with all vigor. Though burdened by atrocities and divisions caused by the election and the growing pain of a new administration, it has quietly proceeded with its day-to-day business. Bureaucracy was trimmed down to expedite government actions on pressing problems. People's participation was encouraged while diligence, efficiency and competence among the local government workers were raised to the maximum. Honesty and integrity was required of everyone.
It can be said that the City of San Jose is definitely leading towards a period of unprecedented progress. An intensified tax collection yielded returns far more than what was expected, ensuring the completion of long delayed projects, be it concrete roads and bridges, 2-storey Felimon Type School Buildings and other public work projects from the city proper down to the remotest barangays. For the first time in San Jose City's history, its budget reached Php. 124, 473,245.79. This simply means more services and projects for the people of San Jose City.
Mayor Felimon has led the development of the city for three consecutive years. But just like many other leaders, who have to leave their seats, he was replaced by a new blood of leader in the person of Atty. Alexander S. Belena, the only son of the late Mayor Amor V. Belena.
Mayor Belena's term has been a year of so many challenges coupled by the need to prove the people that their new leader can do much better. Several projects intended to alleviate poverty and to intensify development was undertaken. It was during his term that social programs are brought into barangays making the access for these services available at hand. It is the effort of her administration to effectively provide social services to the people, in this effect Agad Serbisyong Bayan, named after Mayor Belena's initials (ASB), was launched. Services like health, dental, nutrition, veterinary, agriculture, population control and many others are brought to barangay level. In this way, people will not have to spend a single centavo to access various services offered by the city.
Despite the development initiative undertaken by Mayor Alexander Belena, the city was not freed from the calamities that struck every locality. It was July 22, 2003 when the city was devastated by typhoon, which has led to massive flooding throughout the city and has killed lives and destroyed many properties. However, this event proved the stability of his administration to face crisis. The crisis led to the exploration of a better solution on the problem, the city had come up with the Construction of Central Drainage System, which includes dredging of canals and rivers to inhibit faster and directed flow of water. This move has improved the city's condition and solved the perennial flooding problem of the city.
In its quest to become a bankable city, the local chief executive instituted the computerization of revenue generating offices to monitor the effectiveness of tax collection. With this, taxes are properly assessed and back accounts are cohesively monitored. The implementation of New Revenue Tax Code had increased the revenue collection of the city since the old stumpy tax rate was modified.
A good and workable plan is one that is based on the most accurate situationer possible. The Geographical Information System (GIS) Project was launched. It was among the notable projects that former Mayor Alexander Belena has instituted and made the city more competitive. With GIS, the exact physical boundaries of the city was established and its varied features was systematized and is being used for updating socio-economic profile, land use classification and zoning regulations, environmental planning and management, project monitoring and evaluation and the like that are vital for the development of the city.
Among others, projects in Agriculture, Health, Education and Social Welfare contributed to the continuous effort of the administration to ensure development of San Jose City.
A new leader has set the city into an innovative phase of development. A lady mayor was elected by the city's populace. Mayor Marivic V. Belena, a businesswoman, daughter of former Congressman Eleuterio Violago and wife to former City Mayor Alexander S. Belena came into the picture as the first Lady City Mayor of San Jose. Though rooted from a family with political background, entering politics never became easy for her as she was honed in the milieu of the corporate world. Nothwithstanding her inexperience in politics, Mayor Marivic grasped leadership as an advocacy and mission from the Almighty. She took the challenge of leading the city towards resolving various intrinsic issues striking not only the local government but the city as a whole. Commitment was seen in her by her ardent desire to improve public service for the constituents.
During her one term service, many projects were accomplished. Activities/programs for the masses were propagated to ensure that through her governance, public service is felt by every San Josenian. The Agad na Serbisyong Bayan (ASB) projects was intensified and with it the Alay sa Bayan-Masaganang Bukas (ASB-MB) was launched; a program embracing all activities connected in pursuance of the developmental goals focusing on four major aspects which are health, education, environment and agriculture among others.
MVB's administration envisioned a society of sustainability and participatory governance wherein ignorance, poverty, diseases and the like shall have been addressed and development takes place within the environment's carrying capacity. She also wanted to strengthen the capacity and capability of the LGU and the community.
Various initiatives are undertaken by the current administration to meet its vision and goals for the city, which includes the mobilization of local and international organizations for city-wide medical missions, provision of free Philhealth cards for indigents, strengthening the local school board, generating additional books, developing teacher's skills, development of additional livelihood opportunities by supporting barangay-based livelihood projects (food terminals, handicrafts, meat processing) and continuous reforestation activities in all barangays. On top of these, she has actively launched a campaign towards re-engineering the local government to promote honest public service, transparency and maximization of resources.
Based on her achievements in a span of one term, Mayor Marivic Belena was given numerous distinctive awards one of which is the "Natatanging Punong Lungsod" Award by the Civil Service Commission in 2009.
As she was again chosen by the electorate for the second time, MVB was resolved that through collective efforts, dedication and determination by this current administration, and this LGU's officers, various sectors within the city and its populace, the lives of the San Josenians can be alleviated, and that this governance can continue its pursuit for more progress and development.
In furtherance of her flaming will to serve the public, Mayor Marivic (MVB) pursued a Masters Degree in Public Administration. Despite the taxing responsibility she carries as the Local Chief Executive twofolds effort was exerted by her and finished the course; though the process had taken a great deal of her time.
On education, public school buildings from pre-elementary level to secondary level all over 38 barangays were almost completed owing to the funds of the city government. The local government had also succeeded in its scholarship program for deserving students in college and recorded a number of 449 graduates from different schools in 2013. Mayor Belena was keen on the percentage of student enrollees and graduates as she believes education She aims that education be affordable to everyone even for those in the barangays. Addressing this, satellite public secondary schools were constructred during this term, the Kita-Kita High School and the Caanawan High School which now caters to hundreds of students coming from the east and south portion of the city were opened. Students coming from these barangays and its nieghboring barangays now need not expend on transportation as the location of these two secondary schools can be reached on foot. In the recent years, barangays with sitios were granted additional public elementary and pre-elementary schools funded out of the LGUs 20% development fund. The ALS or the Alternative Learning system was supported also in terms of books and periodicals.
On infrastructure, the remaining gravel roads in the barangay were being cemented. To date only 86.36525 km of the roads in the city remains uncemented. Solar dryers were constructed to needing barangays as well as construction of some barangay halls were granted in her term. The Public Market were added new buildings. Sectioning was even more redefined, the wet section, the dry goods section, the fruits and vegetable sections were arrayed in a maner that gives convenience to the buying public. The San Jose City Public Market was noted in the region and being looked upon as it holds the title "Pinakamaringal na Pamilihan sa Lalawigan" . Included in the projects which gave credence to her good leadership and which helped alleviate development of the city are the "Central Terminal" for passenger PUJs. Its construction and the system of its operation; the central dispatch system, the flagdown system had indeed eased the the flow of traffic which is beginning to be felt within the city. Not to be discounted the influx of additional income it draws from its operation.
On health, programs like TB DOTS system was launched for the TB carriers. Another program on health is the "patak" or the house to house feeding of vitamin to children in the barangays. This is one of the jobs labored by the Barangay Health Workers along with the "Operation Timbang". The opening of the City Health Office Panganakan proved very helpful for maternal sevices. Run by the local government, the CHO Panganakan provides services for the pregnant and giving birth women for a minimal fee. It is a lying-in maternal clinic for those giving birth the natural way. Anti tetanus vaccines and dogbites vaccines are also available at the City Health Office for free. The sustainability of medicines and drugs availability at four (4) Rural Health Units in the city can be felt by the city folks along with the visibility of medical doctors and their attendants/nurses stationed in each RHUs servicing five (5) days a week. Medical missions , hosted and coordinated by this LGU, had continuously been effected thoroughout the city. Each year tenths and hundred s of the needy San Josenians were benefitted by medical and surgical operations of different kinds.
On environment, an array of projects were launched for the environmental protection and preservation. An ordinance was passed and approved regulating the use of plastics in the city, specifically that of styroplastics, sandobags plastic, cups and the likes. Waste segregation was intensified from the grassroots level. The barangays were required to install their own Material Recovery Facility (MRF). Campaign on waste segregation was even more strengthened. Programs to escalate the greening in the locality were paraded. Tree planting programs are being done by dfiferent sectors spearheaded by the men and women of the local government unit. Nurseries in the barangays were called to be put-up. For the monitoring of cleanliness in the barangay level, a number of "Kalikasan Volunteers" in each of the 38 barangays were designated.
On agriculture, the use of organic fertilizers was also being introduced. An indepth study on vermiculture by the Department of Agriculture of the city was pushed through along with line department such as POS, CPDO, PESO,ENRO . The project is now being echoed to the farmers piloting a number of them in rural barangays with the target in pursue of abundant healthful produce in a lowered farm input by the diverted use of organic vermicast.
Now in MVB's last term, local governenance has been proving her mastery..Numerous awards and citations had been bagged owing to her leadership. The development the city cannot be discounted but even more appreciated up to the national level. San Jose city is progressing in the many aspects. The fruitful journey of this city continues because of the rein of a dedicated lady Mayor, the true mother of the city, Marivic Violago- Belena.