By Rodrigo S. Victoria
Naval, Biliran ( March 12) – Voters in Biliran province can now have an initial choice of whom to vote come May 2010 elections as far as the local candidates for the congressional, gubernatorial and vice-gubernatorial posts are concerned. They presented to the public their platforms of governance and their stand on several issues in a leadership forum held on March 11, 2010.
The forum which was held at the Naval State University (NSU) Gymnasium was part of the day-long voters education symposium on automated elections sponsored by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) in Biliran province led by Atty. Richard Alvin Japson, Acting Provincial Election Supervisor of COMELEC-Biliran who is at the same time the Regional Attorney of COMELEC Regional Office No. 8..
The symposium on automated elections was focused on the operations of the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machine that will be used this coming May 2010 elections
The whole day activity was sponsored by NSU publication-The Pillar, NSU Debate Society, NSU Supreme Student Council and NSU student organizations.
Each candidate was given five minutes to present their platforms of governance, They were also given one minute to answer issues raised by the organizers like the readiness for the conduct of poll automation in the May 2010 elections, preparedness of the government in times of the El Niño phenomenon, neo-colonialism and corruption as the cause of poverty, energy crisis or blackouts may affect the election process and the much talked issue on political dynasty.
Candidates were also given one minute to answer questions coming from the group of panelists composed of Flordelis E.Jackson, Provincial Information Manager of Philippine Information Agency (PIA) –Biliran Provincial Information Center, Daniel Ariaso, NSU Vice-President for Planning, Rsearch and Extension Services, Voltaire Dagalea, NSU SSC President, Neil Santé Lasaca, editor-in-chief, The Pillar, Fr. Cornelio Amante,Jr, representing the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV), Fr. Noel Gayrama, NSU faculty representative and Christler Calezo of the NSU Debate Society.
The candidates were also given one minute to answer questions coming from the student leaders who attended the forum.
What was noticeable to the public was the absence of Biliran Governor Rogelio J. Espina, candidate for congressman; Gerry Boy J. Espina and Raffy Salazar both candidates for governor, Pablo Mejia III, another aspirant for the vice-gubernatorial post and incumbent Biliran Vice-Governor Lucila C. Curso, a re-electionist for vice-governor, the position she is holding at present.
candidate`s platform of governance…
Paul Giovanni “Totos” Diu, a newcomer in the political arena in Biliran who is aspiring for the congressional post said that he will intensify agricultural development through addressing the needs of the farmers; educational development through a study-now-pay later plan scheme to financially incapable tertiary students who wish to pursue their studies and exchange study program to be able to send abroad the best and the brightest students here and apply what they learned abroad in our locality. He also mentioned the affordability of medicine especially to the poor, address corruption, maintenance of peace and order by not engaging in political bickering.
For his part, Congressman Glenn A, Chong, incumbent representative of the Lone District of Biliran presented to the public some of his specific measurable deliverables in the area of public infrastructure, health and education in the next three years. Congressman Chong informed that he will purchase 15 American type ambulances to be allotted one each to every 10 clustered barangays provincewide and two fast crafts for emergency medical use to the island municipality of Maripipi and to the two barangays located in Higatangan island in the municipality of Naval. The first-termer representative also promised to give P1,000 allowance to Biliran health workers;P 500 monthly allowance in every month of creditable service to teachers for the purchase of instructional materials and P500 allowance for policemen.
The young solon likewise presented his plan on job generation where he said this can be done by inviting foreign and domestic investors to invest in the province of Biliran. He added that he will give 12 to 25 years tax holidays to P5 million and above worth of investments for as long as they will provide jobs to the Biliranons.
In the area of education, he promised to give school shoes and school bags with wheels to the elementary pupils provincewide, more scholarships to tertiary students and additional school buses that will serve some 20,000 secondary students per week.
Charlie Chong, father of Congressman Chong who is aspiring for the gubernatorial post shared the same set of plans mentioned by his son. He also mentioned of establishing a tourism and investment and promotion office whose major function is to invite investors and at the same time is responsible in the development of the tourism industry in Biliran province.He said that he will work hand in hand with Congressman Chong in order to bring Biliran province to its full development
Charlie Chan, former vice-governor and incumbent mayor of Biliran town who is running for the gubernatorial post wants to preserve the natural beauty of the environment. He is also espousing to develop four areas such as in agriculture, eco-tourism, education, good governance to include health services
Another gubernatorial candidate named Edgar Ambe said that the development of Biliran province is everybody`s concern and that he is also espousing on good governance. He informed that he has trust in himself that he can serve the people of Biliran province.
For the vice gubernatorial posts, Atty. Jose C. Gonzales, a former governor when Biliran was still a sub-province of Leyte, said that he is responsible for the conversion of Biliran into a regular province. He envisioned for a one Biliran, one people, one vision. He also plans to provide opportunities for Biliranons in terms of employment and income. He likewise advised the political leaders in Biliran to get out of political mudslinging but rather help one another for the development of the province. Atty Gonzales informed the public that he disliked favoritism, political dynasty and political in-fighting
Atty. Manuel B. Montejo Jr, another vice-gubernatorial candidate espoused for positive change in the lives of Biliranons once elected into office. He said that he will focus on job creation by passing a local investment code that will give fiscal and non-fiscal incentives to investors which in return will provide jobs to the Biliranons; enactment of a provincial land use plan that will classify land according to its use whether residential, commercial or industrial purposes and the provision of identity cards to Biliranons for the prioritization in employment opportunities.
Victor Del Rosario, an incumbent councilor in Naval town who is also running for the vice-gubernatorial post said that it is God`s plan for him to serve; that he is capable of exercising his position as vice-governor; that he is in a better position to serve being the only independent candidate; the youngest vice-governor if elected who will represent the youth sector and the poorest candidate where he promised publicly not to engage himself in vote-buying this coming elections.
The leadership forum was attended by tertiary students and some faculty members of NSU, some local elective and appointive officials in Biliran province, some retired government personnel and officials and the general public. (Pia-Biliran)