POLITICS NO 1 TOP STORY IN BOHOL

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POLITICS NO 1 TOP STORY IN BOHOL

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cartoon editorialBohol Post Quake Recovery and Pope Kiko’s Visit runner-ups.

NO 1- FIVE VIE FOR GOVERNOR AS CANDIDATES FILE 

HUGE VOTERS’ TURN -OUT  has always characterized Philippine elections. It is the Filipinos’ favorite past time – its huge interest among the populace making  election -including the 2016 poll- a hot topic in the province.

The seeming invincibility of the ruling Liberal Party disintegrated into smithereens when 21 of the 47 mayors jumped ship to join other parties like the NPC (Nationalist People’s Coalition) and the Partido ng Demokratikong Pilipino )PDP-Laban) and even minor parties like the LDP and the NUP.

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The locus of the controversy focused on the issue of the CONA or the Certificate of Nomination and Acceptance denied certain heretofore administration leaders and the gritty play of defeated gubernatorial candidate Che Che Toribio- de los Reyes to challenge third termer 3rd District congressman Arthur Yap.

Among the disgruntled mavericks is Loay Mayor  May Lim-  Imboy (PDP-Laban) , a member of a rich clan in the city, Cebu and Manila involved in resorts, shipping, cable TV, salt making, cement distribution ,among many others who will challenge last term governor Edgar Chatto (LP). Senior Board member Dionisio Balite will challenge his SP chair vice governor Concepcion Lim , another moneyed individual from Valencia town.  They filled opposing Board member candidates in three districts.

Rep. Rene Relampagos, descending from a powerful political clan (father and mother side-Lopezes of Loon) , is facing a relatively lightweight field of contenders for the 1st District. Some semblance of fight is expected in the 2nd district where the rising son of a political star-father (Rico Aumentado) Aris will seek reelection vs NUP candidate Gerardo Garcia.

The biggest fireworks are expected to ensue in the 3rd district where last termer Art Yap, a scion of rich origins and former Department of Agriculture secretary will trade swords- and financial bullets- with businesswoman Cheche de los Reyes.  The pissing war is monumental with vote-buying a likely phenomenon that will  graduate from bad to worse- as the mode of influence was first initiated by Cheche,.

This division of province -wide political forces could make the road to reelection stiffer for both reelectionists Chatto and Concepcion than in previous electoral engagements.

Meantime the city combination of the powerful tandem of reelectionists mayor John Gessnell Baba Yap and vice mayor Toto Veloso (brother in law of the governor) are likely to run roughshod over the political opposition.

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No 2-  BOHOL RISES FROM 7.2 QUAKE-

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Two years after down the road- since October 2013- it appears now that the then Killer 78.2 m Quake has become a “blessing in disguise”- giving rise to a “bigger and better” Bohol.

Not only had the rehabilitation efforts -from local and international attention – opened the faucets for billions of funds- this has resulted in better, more weather-proof infrastructure, bridges and buildings.

The massive inflow of funds resulted in a rapid rise of deposits by 25% into the banks -according to the Bohol Bankers’ Association- this year compared to the normal 15-18% in the past resulting in a new all-time high of P 28-Billion in province-wide deposits. Employment has risen  since 30% of the cost component of construction is labor.

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Such affluence resulted in the purchase of  1,000 new cars in one year. Tourism has somehow rebounded from total paralysis after the quake and new players like Hennan, Bluewater and Be groups pitched camps here -mainly in Panglao.   Prosperity has spilled out to the countryside with Anda, Tubigon and even Sierra-Bullones showing promise.

Seafarers and professionals comprise the bulk of Boholano OFWs -and when they represent 9-20% of the populace in the specific town, notable progress happens therein.

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A powerful aside is the rise  of Bohol as the new Heritage Capital as the National Museum  and the National Commission of Culture and Arts are  taking care of the damaged “heritage churches” and the local clergy headed by the Bishop’s Palace is doing their share in the “non heritage churches.”

NO 3 – POPE TAKES RP BY STORM 

With disarming charisma and spiritual aura that kept millions live- and on TV- blessed by his spiritual presence- the “Rockstar ” Pope “Kiko ” Francis swept the predominantly Catholic

country like the Philippines – better than the Beatles’ visit in the country in the 1960’s. Now the late John Lennon cannot claim to be “more popular than Jesus Christ”.

The 3 million live audience is a record of sorts that may surpass the massive throng in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil last year. One hundred twenty Boholano pilgrims were among the 50,000 that braved an incoming storm in Leyte when the Pope visited the vastly devastated area that claimed lost lives of 8,000 courtesy of Super typhoon Yolanda.

Five of the Boholano earthquake survivors partook of lunch with the visiting Pontiff- a chance of a lifetime. Two hundred twenty others missed the epic visit due to the bad temper of a strong typhoon rocking Leyte and environs.

It was the best of times-and Pope Francis was the reason behind it. Everything seemed to stand still as the nation beheld the Bishop of Rome the leader of 1.2 Catholics . His message of love, forgiveness and repentance, spiced by the worst words for the corrupt and violent- brought to Boholanos the ascendancy of the modern St Peter – an all-embracing Pontiff , contrasted sharply from his olden predecessors who were the epitome of backward conservatism, elitist tendencies and judgmental of sinners.

It was as if Christ Himself -for five sacred days- descended upon His Flock . It was a peaceful storm to be remembered for all time and clime.

NO 4 – TWO JAP FIRMS AWARDED BOHOL AIRPORT

Since the time of former Governor Constancio Torralba (former DOTC secretary of president Cory Aquino) , the dream for an international airport had become an elusive dream- years thereafter under the concept of ‘Panglao Tourism Estate”.

After years of cynicism and suspended belief- the P7.2- Billion “eco airport” – the Panglao Bohol (International Airport) finally started construction under a joint venture project between two Japanese giants Mitsubishi Corporation and Chiyuda Corporation under a PPP (Private Public Partnership ) with the DOTC . To be operational by 2017- the airport will replace the stamp-sized city airport with one credited with international standards that will bring a million  visitors every year.

Direct flights can  come from Korea, Japan, China – the bulk of the visitors who haved been  coming to Bohol.  Many national and international R and R firms are taking a serious, hard look at Panglao for business opportunities to rival Boracay that has deteriorated into a noisy,dirty party place.

The clearly directed airport master  plan has sparked unprecedented interest in Panglao island whose real estate prices have started to shoot through the roof- especially those blessed with a clear entry to the sand and sea that has made Bohol famous.

Indeed still one of the best destinations in RP.

NO 5 –  POWER  SHORTAGE LOOMS IN 2 YEARS

One of the most basic adjuncts to economic progress is the availability of cheap power supply. Bohol has currently 100 megawatts of power- 80 mega from the unstable underwater-cabled supplied power from the geothermal plants in Leyte and the rest from a combination of hydro and diesel plants.

The new international airport alone will swallow whatever reserves in power Bohol is enjoying. The business groups like the BCCI are in deep trouble- worried about the potential shortage of power within two years.  The truth is-since the year 2007 when Bohol was linked to Leyte’s power source, – no single megawatt of power has been in place-  eight long years after.

Power projects have been stalled – for political and environmental reasons- prompting Governor Chatto to  call for a Power Summit – drawing interest  from hydro, solar and wind power providers. Power projects do not come easy – and currently needs 68 signatures to take off  the ground.  Little time and too late characterize this frenzy for new power source.

Aside from that , the price of electricity has always been a negative for the Philippines- already one of the highest in the world. The BEDAG – Bohol Energy  Development Advisory Group are best advised to keep the rein in for escalating power rates just  to accommodate power players.

An expensive electric cost is a big turn-off. But of course its inavailability is a worse one.

NO 6-  VIGILANTE BEHIND KILLINGS?

Bohol has gained bad press for being a haven of drugs- a scenario totally absent from the past when the province was one of the country’s most peaceful and crime-free.For a while there was excessive illegal gambling and scores of robberies.

The sad spectacle – especially in the drug scene -was the apparent inability of the type of Philippine justice system to put the drug lords, their runners and assorted protectors into jail. Candidates for public office have been pointing dirty fingers to one another- each claiming the other is a drug protector or user or both.

This year 2015 has given rise to the New Romance of the Roving Vigilante, as the mysterious killer(s) have been lately fancied about. The execution of alleged and known criminals has been swift and merciless, no trace or witness and with  darting bravado- all hallmarks of a distinguished assassin. Some are worried but many are applauding -as this short cut to justice appears to diminish the ranks of the lawless.

Of course vigilantism is taking the law into one’s hands – but it certainly made the work of the police and judges easier.  Human rights remain an issue.

Among the celebrated killings still unsolved are those of a German national who pretended to be an envoy of a distant, obscure African nation and a broadcaster blocktimer.

Are these killers vigilantes? Who are financing them? Do the authorities know them and look the other way? Are the police running after them?

NO 7    - SANDIGAN HEARS SALCON CASE

After 15 long years, a “Graft and Corrupt Practices” case involving 14 government men and 2 private individuals involved in the privatization of the city power and water utilities to the Salcon Group  – was revived for  resolution by the Sandiganbayan by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales last October. Six of the 16 respondents are deceased.

The  remaining respondents posted bail vs their warrants of arrest which include former governor now congressman Rene Relampagos, then vice governor now governor Edgar Chatto, then BM now  vice governor Concepcion Lim  and several other government officials.

People were surprised at the sudden resurrection of  the long  moribund case which the graft office declared as grossly disadvantageous to the government in that the assets sold for P 150-M were worth P 1.4-B  worth but which government accountants claimed to be legally valued at about P700-M at the time of the deal.

At that time, other NGOs hailed the privatization as one of the prime examples of a successful public private partnership ventures.  The respondents also claim that there are  other considerations in valuing the questioned deal other than just the accounting method of matching the  values of assets in the balance sheet.

The Sandiganbayan will start hearing of the celebrated case even as many of the respondents are currently waging their own political battles  for the 2016 polls.

NO 8 –  5 DEAD 47-m  DAMAGE DUE SEVERE FLOODING

Boholanos were just waking up from the revelry on the Christmas and New Year when early January typhoon Seniang dumped tons of water into the province causing the massive overflow of the Loboc, Abatan and  Bacgong riverbanks.  In the aftermath was a province declared under a “state of emrgency” with 5 dead and damages to infrastructure, agriculture and properties at close to P 50-Million.

Tourism and business took a backseat as the Loboc floating resto business grounded to a halt and damaged many boats and many roads impassable.

Relief operations started as a “survival” mode to provide immediate relief to victims in terms of clothing, food and  shelter and graduated to rehabilitation of damaged structures.

NO 9 – BOHOLANOS COME HOME FOR GRAND REUNION

Nothing warms the heart more and evoke nostalgic memories that balikbayans from the world over to come home to  lovely Bohol. This was buttressed by hundreds of other Boholanos coming back from other Philippine provinces to celebrate the 161st Bohol Day in time with the biggest Homecoming of Boholanos in the “Tigum Bol-anon sa Tibuok Kalibutan (TBTK).

This homecoming has drawn the praise of former DOT secretary and former senator Dick Gordon which he wanted replicated by other provinces and regions.  The grand reunion showcased the remarkable unity of Boholanos exemplified in joint efforts at health care, historical  and cultural presentations, contests, and countless reunions of classmates, town mates and relatives that colored many towns’ calendar that July.

For many it was a week to recall with fondness and the TBTK  officers were already grinding for the next Grand Homecoming three years after.

NO 10-  EXTORTION LEADER NABBED

The recent entrapment and arrest of one Renilo Sampaga in Cabawan this city recently put an end to an  heretofore endless series of woes of extortion made on business firms particularly accomplished construction firms.

It was a joint army and police forces that collared the suspect and his accomplices.  The modus operandi was started by the NPAs (New Peoples Army) who demanded protection money from the rebels for them to continue running their businesses without interference.

But long after the rebels had gone into hiding, other pretenders took over and demanded the same from well to do individual s  and firms till lately.

The busting of the syndicate is seen to brighten the business climate and enthuse more people to come to Bohol for ventures and the like.

For comments: email to dejarescobingo@yahoo.com or bohol-rd@mozcom.com

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