Two Bohol congressmen denied having decided to run for governor in the 2019 local polls even as both are observed to be making themselves exposed outside their respective congressional districts- thus giving a clue of their interest to bid Â for Â a Â higher provincial position in the next election.
Rep. Aris Aumentado (2nd district) made public his criticism against Rep. Art Yap (3rd district) after the latter reported during the Bohol Provincial Consultation on Central Visayas Regional Development Plan on February 3 at the Bohol Tropics that he was facilitating for the inclusion of three major projects in Bohol foreign funding.
In an exclusive story published in theÂ ChronicleÂ last Sunday, Rep. Yap said he is facilitating for the inclusion for foreign funding of the Malinao Dam Upgrading, Cebu to Bohol Friendship Bridge,Â and the Bohol Northeast Basin MultipurposeÂ Dam Development Project, all three projects belonging to the second district of Aumentado.
Yap’s disclosure came as a surprise to Aumentado since he could not imagine a congressman from another Bohol district trying to make pronouncements regarding his projects which he has already been following up since he won as congressman of the second district.
“Not even a courtesy to inform me of what he was doing with the projects in my district,” Aumentado blurted.
During an interview over dyRD’s top rated Inyong Alagad last Monday, the second district solon qualified his statement by saying that if indeed Rep. Yap was just simply trying to help his projects wholeheartedly (without political color), then he extends his sincerest thanks.
However, “if his (Yap) intention was to gain media mileage of his disclosure of assistance to my projects, then he is doing it as a propaganda at my expense,” Rep. Aumentado said he considers it an “insult” that Yap meddled in proposed projects under his district.
He is “making me appear incapable of doing the projects in my own district,” Aumentado said while saying it was “basic courtesy” that Yap should have done before announcing his claimed assistance to the projects in his district since he is not the governor of the province.
This recent development raised speculations that Yap who is a last termer solon is starting to get province-wide exposure as a prelude to his running for governor two years from now.
When asked to categorically state whether he is running for governor in 2019, Yap said it is too early comment on political matters.
Aumentado on the other hand has been quoted in political talks to Â have shown Â interest to run for governor after his political advisers believe that the 2019 polls will give him a better chance to win since there is no incumbent governor during the 2019 polls.
However, Aumentado was firmed in his answer to theÂ ChronicleÂ that “I am not interested to run for governor in the next polls.”
Gov. Edgar Chatto, an acknowledged political kingpin, is serving his last term thus the gubernatorial race will be open for whoever gets interested to run without an incumbent governor to reckon with. Chatto, for his part, is forecast to run again for congressman in the first district.
Commenting on Aumentado’s reaction, the 3rd district solon explained that his interest to help pending Bohol projects is in line with his function as the chairman of the House Committee on Economic Affairs.
Â In fact, major projects in Bohol successfully inching to the attention of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) had been presented already to the House Committee on Economic Affairs chaired by Third District Rep. Arthur Yap for collaboration.
Yap said there are more than a hundred of projects nationwide that the NEDA Board had approved earlier and are now lobbied for foreign funding.
Among them are theÂ Malinao Dam Upgrading, Cebu to Bohol Friendship Bridge and Bohol Northeast Basin Multipurpose Dam Development Project.Â
As chair of the House Committee on Economic Affairs, Yap said it is his duty to collaborate with NEDA to facilitate legislative steps needed to be undertaken for the implementation of the projects.
NEDA takes charge of the â€œeconomic development and planningâ€.
The NEDA Board is chaired by the President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte.
The secretary of socio-economic planning of the country, Ernesto Pernia- -a Boholano- -serves as vice-chair, being the NEDA director general.
During the Bohol Provincial Consultation on Central Visayas Regional Development Plan on February 3 at the Bohol Tropics where he was invited to speak, Yap assured that for Bohol, he is facilitating for the inclusion of these three projects.
The inception of these three projects traces back to the time of the late second district representative Erico Aumentado when he was still governor of Bohol.
His successor, Gov. Edgar Chatto, carried on with the processing of the provincial government projects left to his charge.
The feasibility study andÂ detailed designÂ for the Malinao Dam Upgrading project was conducted by theÂ Korea Water Resources Corp. (K-water) through the funding from the Korea International Cooperation Agency (Koica) and when completed, was handed to then governor Aumentado in 2009.
Its implementation is what is now lobbied for foreign funding.
The Cebu-Bohol Friendship Bridge and theÂ Bohol Northeast Basin Multipurpose Dam Development ProjectÂ are being lobbied for foreign funding for their feasibility study.
Yap said they are wrapping things up so the needed documents will be completed by end of March so that Duterte can present them to the potential China funders when he visits the country again in May.
As to the criticism from Second District Rep. Erico Aristotle Aumentado, the late Aumentadoâ€™s son and successor in position, Yap said he apologized that the former did not understand his (Yapâ€™s) job.
The younger Aumentado criticized Yap for bypassing him in supporting the projects, saying that these projects are to be implemented in second district.Â
Yap clarified that he has never gone to the second district to implement and inaugurate any project if such tantamount to overlappingÂ the younger Aumentadoâ€™s jurisdiction.
He also explained that as member of the House of Representatives, where he is chair of the Economic Affairs Committee, the scope of his job is nationwide.
He just represents third district in the national scene as among the legislators belonging to the lower house of Congress- -the House of Representatives.
Being elected officials, their mandate emanates from the people.
Contrary to insinuations by the younger Aumentado, Yap clarified that it is never his intention to capitalize on his support for the projects for political ambition, since the present is about serving the people and the campaign for the next elections is still too far to even think about.
As he is in his last term as congressman, Yap said he could always go back to law practice or be involved in their family business, or accept Â an appointive national position if given- after his current term.
There are a lot of options to be able to serve the people, not just running for governor, he said in response to allegations that he is just supporting the projects for propaganda.
He also said what is in his mind right now is to catch up with the deadline so that President Duterte can present the project profiles of the hundreds of projects proposed for implementation nationwide to foreign funders the latter had to meet in succeeding months.
Yap also emphasized that public service should go beyond propaganda and if the media would report about what the officials are doing, it zeroes in on the transparency at how the projects are progressing to keep the people informed.
In his message during the NEDA-organized workshop on February 3, a way of report to the people, Yap saidÂ China is a possible source of foreign funding, especially that Duterte is travelling to China again in May.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE Â 3 PROJECTS
As presented by NEDA-7 during the workshop, the Bohol Northeast Basin Multipurpose Dam Project involves the construction of two multipurpose storage dams; five diversion dams; transbasin tunnel; hydro-power plant; irrigation and drainage facilities.
Other components of the project include institutional development and watershed management.
Its potential coverage area is set at 12,500 hectares, and the source of water is the Wahig River.
It was also reported during the NEDA-organized workshop that the feasibility study of the project will be completed in early 2018.
It will serve the municipalities of Danao, San Miguel, Trinidad, Dagohoy, Bien Unido, and Ubay.
The National Irrigation Administration (NIA) will be the lead implementing agency.
On the other hand, the Cebu-Bohol Friendship Bridge is eyed to connect the two island provinces from the Cordova point in Cebu and Getafe point in Bohol side.
It will cross over the Olango Island Group.
Meanwhile,Â upgrading the Malinao Dam in PilarÂ would double the water storage capacity of the dam from 5 million cubic meters to 10 million cubic meters which could irrigate an additional 2,730 hectares of riceland in northeast Bohol.
From its present 5.99 million cubic meters- -5 million cubic meters from its active reservoir and 0.99 million cubic meters from its dead reservoir, to a total of 9.1 million cubic meters- -8.11 from the active and 0.99 from the dead reservoir.
The improvement will make Malinao Dam capable of reaching additional 920 hectares.
The feasibility study also showed that an upgraded Malinao Dam would be instrumental in increasing and stabilizing the farmerâ€™s income by 70 percent and in meeting the increasing food consumption demand in Bohol.