Friday, May 07, 2010

Debate On Legislative Issues Part of Political Education

Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) member candidate’s forum (Eastern sector) special edition was a hot topic of the weekly Kapehan at Smokehauz Resto & Bar on May 1, 2010. Those present were re-electionist bets Hon. Daisy S. Briones, Hon. Rodson Mayor and Hon. Nemesio P. Neron of Lakas Kampi – CMD. The opposition bets were Hon. Raymar A. Rebaldo, Atty. Santiago Regalado, and Hon. Rizal Rodriguez, Jr. of the Nacionalista Party.

Those absent were Hon. Jean O. Rodriguez (deferred to come because of prior appointment in Balete), Hon. Lilian Q. Tirol (no explanation) and Ms. Alita A. Venus (presently in Manila to personally attend to her husband’s health.)

The mechanics of the candidate’s forum gave seven minutes for each guest to present his/her legislative agenda including highlighted achievements. The members of political parties were allowed three interpelative questions to the speaker after which he responds within a time frame of two minutes each. Later, the members of tri-media grilled the candidates further on other vital issues that have escaped attention from the speaker.
Kalibo Cable TV provided full service coverage, thanks to Mr. Cedric Sazon and members of the crew headed by Mr. Garry Vargas.

Atty. Ronquillo C. Tolentino mentioned that candidates must necessarily possess the passion, skill and knowledge for effective governance. Rationale is "where much is given, more is expected". This could be achieved by crafting pertinent ordi-nances and resolutions that would enhance our way of life in case of SP member candidates. The present forum or debate is crucial to the political education agenda embodied in our Constitution.

First to take the rostrum was Hon. Nemesio P. Neron. He is former President, Board of Directors, (BOD), Akelco. A Most Outstanding Aklanon awardee in 2005, Chairman Committee on Peace & Order, Energy, Disaster Coordinating Council, Neron authored 21 SP resolutions and one ordinance. His agenda is deeply anchored on peace since without peace there can be no development. We need to have more investors in renewable energy. Likewise, self sufficiency in food must be enhanced through construction of farm to market roads. Disaster preparedness at all times is vital to respond to any calamity whether natural or man made.

The second speaker was Atty. Santiago "Sunshine" Regalado. His accomplishments include member, BOD Akelco 1980-1983, then as actg. president. He was two terms SP member in 2001-2007. During his stint, he was chairman on Appropriation, Budget and Finance, Peace and Order, Laws and Health. His other work experiences include Instructor, Batan Academy, and IBC–DYRG radio broadcaster. His notable achievement as legislator is approval of a resolution establishing the Caticlan Jetty Port. His present agenda is to revitalize important programs that he started while Aklan SP member. In doing this, he is committed to this arduous task of nation building alongside new party colleagues.

Hon. Daisy S. Briones was the third speaker. She is a practicing Optometrist for the last 25 years. Her entrance into politics started in 1989 when she was elected Brgy. Captain of Poblacion, Kalibo by collegial votes. She was SB member of Kalibo for three consecutive terms. Presently, she is seeking her third term as SP member in a largely male dominated chamber. She is recipient of awards particularly as Lupong Tagapamayapa and Excellence Award from Rotary Club. She authored ordinances on Gender Development, and Aklan Children’s Code. All she can offer to the Aklan electorates is her sincerity and honesty in public service.

The fourth speaker was Hon. Raymar A. Rebaldo. By profession, he is an Electrical Engineer who actually rose from the ranks not in his chosen career but in politics. He first started as Brgy. Kagawad in 1989 and later as Brgy. Captain in 1994 of Poblacion, Kalibo. In 1996-97 for excellent performance, he received prestigious award as Outstanding Brgy. Captain of the Philippines. He was elected Mayor of Kalibo in 2001. Since then, occupied the post of this premier town. Altogether, he has 28 years experience in local governance not to mention his stint as instructor and technical supervisor, Akelco. He is confident that his leadership by example will be vigorously pursued in the provincial legislative agenda.

Hon. Rodson Mayor was the fifth speaker. In the SP, Mayor is the incumbent chairman of the Committees on Laws, Appropriation, Education, Energy, Oversight, and Labor. His slogan, "I will fight for you" reverberates not only in legislative session hall but over the airwaves. He proved successful in the resolution to condone taxpayers heavily burdened by 300 percent real estate tax increase on residential and 100 percent on agricultural lands.

He was the main sponsor of a resolution to secure P39 million loan at LBP for the creation of the School of Nursing at ASU and the construction of the Provincial Sports Complex in Calangcang, Makato. The former is significant since amidst the heated debate, Hon. Mayor in a dramatic move challenged Vice Governor Billie V. Calizo-Quimpo who was presiding in one of the SP sessions to step down and engage him in the debate. This is if the vice governor deems it inappropriate for big government to compete with private schools particularly in Nursing education.

Moreover, Hon. Mayor is vigorously opposing the onerous 20 year contract signed by Akelco and Global Business Corp which bilk Akelco member consumers of 4 million Kwh per month as power generation charge despite the fact that only one (1) million kwh are actually consumed.

The last to speak was Hon. Rizal Rodriguez, Jr. He is a two termer Vice Mayor of Balete, Aklan. His landmark legislation is the Legislative – Executive agenda which handily won Regional DILG’s Search for Excellence in Governance. The prominent categories are on environmental protection, economic enterprise and legislation. In 2009, DILG Regional Office awarded the Municipality of Balete first runner up in Local Legislation category. An outstanding feature of Balete’s legislative agenda is the periodic review and evaluation every quarter of ordinances and resolutions. Evidently, his wealth of legislative experience, competence, and integrity will be carried over to SP leadership once elected to the post.

Atty. Ronquillo C. Tolentino once declared in the Kapehan forum that the SP members’ job is to pass and review resolution and ordinances. Every third year, the law requires that new tax measures must be enacted to address the expanded socio-economic development. This must however, be done with due people consultation or public hearing.

In the case of unprecedented tax increase in real estate, Hon. Mayor charged that no public hearing was ever conducted by the Committee on Taxation then headed by Hon. Santiago Regalado. This is called taxation without representation. Fortunately, Mayor successfully sponsored a resolution rescinding all surcharges/penalties incurred by taxpayers from 1955-2007.

According to official documents available P55,000 was given to Hon. Nemesio P. Neron by the SP leadership for his medical expenses. Furthermore, another check of P53,000 came from Vice Gov. Billie V. Calizo–Quimpo or a total of P108,000. Again on Sept. 17, 2008 a check in the amount of P80,000 was received by Hon. Rodson Mayor also for medical expenses assistance . Nevertheless, COA regulation approved such assistance only in the amount of P1,000. The members of the Lakas kampi-CMD party reasoned out that they are only following the trend that Hon. Plaridel M. Morania also received the same as generous assis-tance from the Chamber. (Aklan SP office).

It is a pity that hospital victims in the charity ward of the provincial hospital often languish for two months without receiving aid from our elected officials. Worse, they are prevented from going home (even if a patient is fully recovered) because of unsettled hospital and medical bills. This is a high price to contend with existing policies of Economic Enterprises Department (EED). On the other hand, members of our legislative council, the well off, get theirs without any moral compunction in a moments notice.

While it is true that Cong. Joeben T. Miraflores is working out a strategy to rectify unreasonable debt burden of Akelco member-consumers, pertinent question is how soon will this contract be amended? Hon. Mayor says that Akelco is a private entity. Hence, more time is needed to resolve the problem. What can be distressing than the fact that we shell out an average of P7.20 per KWH, the highest service charge in Western Visayas but receive sloppy performance.

Mayor Raymar A. Rebaldo was asked to render proper accounting of all donations from local and international relief agencies in connection with the aftermath of typhoon Frank. Disaster was almost two years ago but I believed that this is necessary to show transparency, accountability, and integrity.

Indeed, debate about specific issues are very informative and interesting. Interpellation and rebuttals sound more of trading punches and jabs but definitely no bloody knockouts. Protagonists are civil and justify their actions despite leaning to the left. The result of the election on May 10, and their victories could indicate them.

We hope similar episode would come up for SP candidates’ forum for Western sector just before the May 10 polls. /MP

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