Sunday, August 18, 2013

Typhoon-hit Aurora observes 404th township of Baler amid devastation

BALER, Aurora – Amid the destruction wreaked by typhoon Labuyo which destroyed an estimated P500 million in infrastructure, agriculture and houses in northern Aurora, officials and residents will gather here today to observe the 404th anniversary of this capital town in the post-Angara mayorship.

          Capitol officials led by Gov. Gerardo Noveras, Vice Gov. Rommel Angara and town officials led by Nelianto Bihasa and Vice Mayor Karen Ularan-Angara will lead the anniversary rites at the spanking P100-million new town hall, considered more austere than in previous years. 

          Also joining the celebration - which coincides with the 135th anniversary of late Commonwealth President Manuel Quezon and in honor of the town’s Patron Saint San Luis Obispo de Tolosa - are Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara and former three-term governor and now Rep. Bellaflor Angara-Castillo.

          This year’s rites were in stark contrast to past years, including in 2009 when organizers erected a 40-feet-high monument that towers over this capital town’s skyline symbolic of its emergence from a once-sleepy municipality into a bustling and flourishing model for rural development on its quadricentennial two years ago.

          Located 232 kilometers north of Manila on the shore of a horseshoe-shaped coastal valley overlooking the Pacific Ocean, this town is a treasure trove of cultural heritage not only as Quezon’s birthplace but also for being the last bastion of Spanish forces during the Spanish Revolution. It is  the center of festivities for the Philippine-Spanish Friendship Day which is celebrated every 30th of June.

          The old Kinagunasan (township) was wiped out when a “tsunami” struck on December 27,1735, killing 500 families. Only five families survived, including the Angaras.

          Several stories account for the origin of the name Baler, the most popular of which was believed to have come from the word “Balod,” a large Paloma Montes (mountain dove) that abounded in the place.

Baler, to historians, was a place where pigeons came home to roost or a place to come home to. And that no matter where Balerianos go in their search for glory and fortune, they would always hope of coming back.

From a depressed town, Baler has emerged into a progressive municipality housing a public market, a fish port, sports complex, people’s center, a P130-million integrated rice processing complex, a polytechnic college, and other institutions of higher learning. (Manny Galvez)  

Drilon asks to speed up investigation into PDAF scam to give lawmakers a chance to defend themselves in proper judicial venue

MANILA-Senate President Franklin M. Drilon today asked for an speedy investigation into the alleged misuse of the priority development assistance fund of some lawmakers which has been the news headlines for over one month and continued to cause public’s uproar.
Drilon’s call came after the Commission on Audit, in a special audit report on the 2007-2009 PDAF allocations, disclosed that billions of pesos worth of pork barrel funds of lawmakers allegedly went to bogus non-government organizations.
“I call on government investigating bodies to speed up the probe into this pork barrel scam and ensure as well the speedy judicial process,” said Drilon.
“The government must show resolve in addressing this issue so that the public will realize that we are taking appropriate and swift actions to get to the bottom of the controversy; and in the end, the government must be able to observe and apply justice and the rule of law,” he stressed.
He said the resolution of the PDAF scam will help restore the people’s trust in the justice system.
“We need to finish the investigation so that those who are allegedly involved will be presented the opportunities to defend themselves and clear their names before an impartial and credible investigative body and appropriate judicial forum,” said Drilon.
The Senate chief also urged the Commission on Audit, the Ombudsman, and the Department of Justice to coordinate closely in resolving the case and formulating necessary actions including filing of charges to those who were involved in the scam.
“These three investigating agencies should exercise a close coordination in resolving this case and studying the appropriate actions to undertake,” he said.
Drilon said the COA audit report provided the evidence that the DOJ and the Ombudsman will have to carefully study in order to determine if they warrant filing for charges.  
“Because of the audit report, we are all under clout of doubt. Even if our names were not in the report, the people have the tendency to generalize and suspect us to be doing illegal in the use of our pork barrel,” said Drilon.
“That is why we need to finish the investigation the soonest in order to shed lights on the issue and to enable the involved lawmakers to answer allegations against them in the proper venue” he ended. 


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