In the realm of public service where standards abound and uniformity is the norm, how does one stand out?

Allan S. Freno, Information Officer and Public Employment Service Office (PESO) Manager of the City Government of Tacurong, seemed to have figured it out.

On the eve of September 10, along with other top government service workers in the country, Allan received from no less than President Rodrigo Duterte himself the Outstanding Public Officials and Employees or Dangal ng Bayan award during the ceremonial rites held at the Malacañang Palace.

The merit is administered by the Civil Service Commission and conferred to any public official or employee who has demonstrated exemplary service and conducts on the basis of her or his observance of Republic Act No. 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.

That night, dressed in his best barong tagalog, with his lovely wife in tow and a supportive local chief executive in the audience — Hon. Angelo O. Montilla—, he received from the President a trophy and a golden medallion designed by National Artist for Sculpture Noel V. Abueva; his check worth P200 thousand mischievously handed by Duterte to his wife.

However, Allan’s civil service journey is far from the prestige and glamour of a presidential tête-à-tête.

In 2003, he was hired as Information Officer I of the Local Government Unit of Tacurong City. His challenge, disseminate positive information to project a positive image of a city faced with security challenges. For more than five years, he did this job single-handedly. Other favorable work opportunities came knocking somewhere else but he chose to stay in his hometown.

In one of his recent works on information advocacy, he collaborated with the Alternative Learning System under the City Schools Division to launch the Radio-based Instruction for ALS learners dubbed as ALS School On-Air. ALS students from the barangays were required to listen to the radio episodes and were gathered periodically for their quizzes and exams. The School On-Air was able to lessen the burden of the ALS in ensuring a high rate of completion among learners.

With his success as Information Officer came his appointment as PESO Manager. Applying his major in Community Development, he helped organize the 36 ambulant vendors in the city public terminal in 2013 that paved way for them to receive Nego-Kart projects from the Department of Labor and Employment. In 2016, he made a proposal for a Grocery Store Project for the vendors. The proposal was approved by the mayor and they received assistance amounting to P200 thousand for the TATVA Groceria Project. After just two years of successful operation, the grocery store was able to generate an average of P9 Million gross sales every year. The Tacurong Terminal Vendors Association is now one of the millionaire associations in Tacurong and has already expanded to a new branch of grocery store, restaurant business and soon to a water refilling business project. The association was even declared by the DOLE as a regional winner in the Search for Best Livelihood Project in 2018.

Allan also made an impact on the lives of other marginalized sectors including the Persons with Disability. He helped Julius Sardoma, a very shy kid with dwarfism condition, avail of the LGU-DOLE summer employment from 2013 to 2015 while at the same time letting him avail of the LGU Scholarship Program. After graduating in a two-year course in Electronics, he helped Julius avail of the DOLE Government Internship Program. That program paved way for him to be hired by the Local Government Unit. Right now, Julius is performing very well as a sound system technician. He was even featured by DOLE as one of the success stories of its program on SPES and GIP.

Allan’s performance in PESO made him a regional winner for Best PESO Awards for four straight years from 2013-2016 and also made three years of national nominations. With these victories, he was then nominated for the Dangal ng Bayan award that brought him to the regional level, semi-finals, and finally, the national awards.

Allan’s journey in public service is not without its shares of doubts, shortcomings, and even failures. But he believed in making a difference. All that he needed to achieve this was already set in place such as government programs and laws. He only needed to implement them with the help of empowering and supportive local leadership and competent teammates. This award is proof that his steadfast belief in the power of public service bore fruit.

 “Public office is a public trust and as mentioned by the President in his latest SONA, doing our jobs as government workers is not a challenge but a mandate. And in what we do, there is always a need to make a follow through to make sure of a better outcome. In many instances, there is a need to go that extra mile; because at the end of the day, government service is not just about doing our job well… it’s about doing more.” – Allan Freno.(Yen Robles, LGUTac-Info)