Saturday, January 31, 2015

RDC expresses full support for transfer of New Bilibid Prison to Nueva Ecija

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga-Regional Development Council (RDC), in a resolution Friday, expressed full support for the transfer of New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in a 500-hectare government property in Laur, Nueva Ecija.
Justice Secretary Leila De Lima graced the full council meeting to personally thank RDC’s move.
“The proposed P50 billion facility shall be the biggest public-private partnership project of DOJ and a first of its kind in the country. It shall be a big help in addressing congestion at the current NBP site in Muntinlupa City,” De Lima said.
It will be undertaken under a build-transfer-maintain scheme with the winning bidder turning it over to the Bureau of Corrections after the three-year construction period but shall continue its maintenance duties of the facility for 20 years.
De Lima assured the Governors present namely RDC Chair Wilhelmino Sy-Alvarado of Bulacan, Aurelio Umali of Nueva Ecija, Lilia Pineda of Pampanga, and Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. of Zambales that the new facility shall have features that separate the so-called “high risk” prisoners from the rest.
It shall also have distinct and adequate space for women prisoners.
“We will start the bidding process within the year. We are holding an investor’s conference so that we can present the project design,” De Lima added.
RDC is the highest policy-making body in Central Luzon and serves as the counterpart of the National Economic and Development Authority Board at the subnational level.
It is the primary institution that coordinates and sets the direction of all economic and social development efforts in the region and serves as a forum where local efforts can be related and integrated with national development activities.
Council members include all governors, city mayors, municipal mayors of capital towns, presidents of municipal mayors’ league, regional directors of national government agencies and representatives from the private sector. (Carlo Lorenzo J. Datu)

Friday, January 30, 2015

Heroes Welcome Awaits 3 SAF Troopers in Central Luzon

BALER, Aurora-As Police Regional Office 3 under the leadership of Police Chief Superintendent Ronald V. Santos, Officer-in-Charge PRO3 continues to join the entire Philippine National Police (PNP) in its mourning for the untimely demise of forty four  (44) elite members of the Special Action Force (SAF) in a major operation  in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last Sunday, January 25, 2015, a “Heroes Welcome” will be given to the three fallen SAF troopers who hailed from Aurora, Bataan and Bulacan.   

Funeral Honors, Vigil guards and other interment services will be given to PO2 Nicky De Castro Nacino Jr from Aurora, PO3 John Lloyd Rebamonte Sumbilla from Bataan, PO2 Junrel Narvas Kibete from Bulacan as soon as slain policemen arrive in their respective hometowns.

Relatedly, the national colors is still hoist at half-mast and all uniformed and non-uniformed personnel of PRO3 continues to  wear black armbands, ribbons and black bandage as an expression of great respect for the bravery and heroism of the fallen SAF members.

It could be remembered that Sangguniang Bayan (SB) member Tristan Pimentel of San Luis, Aurora denounced the deadly encounter in Mamasapano, Maguindanao recommending that there is a need to give justice to the victims.

He also extended his deepest condolences to the families of the slain police officers particular his brother in the Tau Gamma Phi International Grand Fraternity.

“Our brothers did not deserve such tragic death and a thorough investigation is needed to serve justice,” Pimentel said; adding that questions need to be answered.

On Monday, Pimentel will file a resolution for Necrological service of Nacino to give honor and hero’s burial for the fallen SAF commando, who is a native of San Luis, Aurora.

“It would be the highest honor we can bestow on them for his martyrdom,” Pimentel ended. (Jason de Asis with Report from PRO3 PIO)

MILF told to surrender men involved in carnage, stop issuing visas to terrorists

MANILA-The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) should turn over to government authorities all its personnel involved in the killing of 44 police commandos who were serving an arrest warrant on a Malaysian bomb-maker and his Filipino cohort in Maguindanao last Sunday.

Sen. Ralph Recto said the MILF will be aggravating a crime committed if it will allow the perpetrators to remain scot-free.

“It will be wrong for the MILF to use the ceasefire agreement it had signed with the government as a shield against arrest,” Recto said.

“That document does not inoculate anyone who had committed a grievous wrong from prosecution. You cannot claim immunity in the name of the peace process,” Recto said.

Recto said members of the government peace panel should convey the same demand to their counterparts in the rebel side.

He reminded them “that the bodies of the 44 SAF men should not be swept under the carpet being rolled out for the eventual Bangsamoro entity.”

Recto said “achieving peace in Mindanao and attaining justice for those killed can be pursued simultaneously if the MILF has the guts to punish the guilty and give justice to the dead.”  

“By all means let us proceed with the peace process but first you must stop coddling your men so we can also proceed with the important job of giving justice to those who have been killed,” Recto said.  

“This is a reasonable demand not meant to inflame passions but precisely to calm the fired up emotions of the people,” Recto said.

“The only way forward is for the MILF to surrender their men who were responsible for the killing of the policemen,” Recto said.

To prevent Sunday’ bloody carnage from happening again, Recto urged “the MILF to stop issuing visas to asylum seekers and wanted terrorists.” 

The MILF should declare its enclaves as “no-go zones for terrorists.” 

He reiterated his challenge to the MILF to deny the likes of Marwan and Usman sanctuary.

He was referring to Malaysian bomb-maker and top Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, known as Marwan, and his local cohort, Basit Usman, who were the targets of the waylaid Special Action Forces team.

"Any group in talks for permanent peace with the government should not be giving sanctuary to terrorists," Recto said.

"It should not allow zones it control to be used as rest and recreation areas for wanted fugitives who by their skills and bloody curriculum vitaes present a clear and present danger to the nation," Recto said.

Recto said even if reports are true that the two terrorists were actually in areas controlled by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), "then the MILF should not side with the BIFF but assist the police and the military in apprehending them."

"If the MILF wants to be our BFF, then they should stop playing footsies with the BIFF," Recto said. 

Thursday, January 29, 2015

85 parents of ex child laborers in Bulacan receive DOLE Starter KITS

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga-A total of 85 parents of former child laborers from a city and town in Bulacan recently received P425,000 worth of livelihood assistance given by Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) under its Kabuhayan Starter KITS program.
Of the total amount, P275,000 was allocated for beneficiaries in Towerville Resettlement Livelihood Center, Minuyan, San Jose Del Monte City while the remaining P150,000 was meant for residents in barangay Tangos, Baliuag town.
Each beneficiary was given a start-up kit, which can be used for sari-sari store, barbecue and palamig, mini carinderia, rice trading, rag/doormat retailing, kakanin, balot vending, tailoring, fish and vegetable, repacking of condiments, and ready to wear clothing in order to engage them in sustainable self-employment.
In a message, DOLE Regional Director Ana Dione said that through the provision of these, they are looking forward at empowering Bulakenyo beneficiaries by helping them manage and sustain their small start-up business in order to help their families.
“In this way, their children will no longer be compelled to work to make both ends meet and instead could focus on their education and enjoy their youth,” Dione stressed.  
Speaking in behalf of the recipients, ambulant vendor and mother of six Lyne Panganiban expressed her heartfelt gratitude for the starter kits that she called as big blessings of hope.
“Thank you for providing us with a source of livelihood to augment our daily needs. Rest assured that we would enrich what you have given us. May you continuously help more poor families who want to improve their lives,” Panganiban said.
Meanwhile, the local governments of San Jose Del Monte and Baliuag provided their counterpart assistance in the form of Entrepreneurship Development Training.
Starter KITS is DOLE’s way of opening more opportunities by empowering each Filipino worker to venture into entrepreneurship through our integrated livelihood programs to improve their lives. (Marie Joy L. Simpao)

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Poll cancellation will free P7.7 B in SK funds, which Recto wants used for child feeding

MANILA-Postponing the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections will free up almost P7.7 billion in SK share from the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) of barangays this year, Sen. Ralph Recto said today.

Under the law, the SKs get 10 percent of the barangays’ IRA, which is P76.7 billion for 2015.

Because the amount will now be retained by barangays, the latter can spend it for child feeding in day care centers, a program that will address the “two important issues of literacy and nutrition at the same time,” Recto suggested.

The P7.7 billion SK fund is actually bigger than the P7.2 billion that government will spend this year for two major nutrition programs run by the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWS), Recto said.

Under the 2015 national budget, the DepEd is allocated P3.8 billion to provide meals to 1.93 million undernourished gradeschoolers.

DepEd’s original budget was P2.8 billion but Recto and Senate Finance Committee chair Sen. Chiz Escudero increased it by P1 billion.

The DSWD, on the other hand, will get P3.36 billion for a supplemental feeding program covering 2.5 million two- to five-year olds enrolled in day care centers or wards of neighborhood associations.

“Theoretically, the funding for feeding can be doubled if the SK fund will be used to ‘fortify’ what has been earmarked in the national budget,” Recto said.

The Senate bill which resets the SK polls to October 2016 directs the barangay council to disburse the SK fund “solely for youth development programs.”

It reiterates the same provision in an earlier SK election postponement  law, Republic Act 10632 , which scrapped the polls supposed to be held in October 2013.

The passage of the bill resetting the SK polls anew is a done deal, Recto said. “In the Senate, there’s bipartisan consensus that calling off the elections is the right thing to do.”

“But the proposed law does not only reschedule the elections, it sets the policy on what will happen to the SK share, and that is to exclusively use it for youth development programs,” Recto explained.

“And no programs are more worthwhile than nutrition and education,” Recto said in justifying why the SK fund must be used to feed undernourished kids.

He, however, admitted that the final decision on how the SK share will be spent rests on the Sangguniang Barangay, for as long as it is within the ambit of programs for young people.

The IRA represents the 40 percent share of local governments from internal revenues collected by the national government three years before.  

For this year, total IRA is P389.8, with the 81 provinces getting P91 billion; 144 cities sharing P89.2 billion; 1,478 towns, P132.9 billion; and 41,889 barangays, P76.7 billion.

Recto said the SK share of P7.7 billion is three times bigger than the 2015 appropriations of the Department of Tourism, twice that of the Department of Trade and Industry, six times that of the Civil Service Commission, and bigger than the combined budget of the 26 state universities and colleges in the Visayas.

“It is even 15 times bigger the Assistance to Nationals Fund for overseas Filipinos in distress,” Recto said.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Leyte solon honors youth volunteers for Tacloban

MANILA-Leyte 1st district Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez honored the youth volunteers who participated in Pope Francis’ visit to Tacloban City last January 10, and encouraged more to contribute towards nation-building.
“Despite the storm in Tacloban that day, the young men and women braved the heavy rains and helped organize the Papal visit. They were there days before the event, sacrificed their time and effort which helped ensure the success of the historic event. It is this spirit of service and volunteerism that I want to commend and to highlight. They are examples of how the youth can truly help the nation,” Romualdez said.
Romualdez also recounted how international humanitarian agencies and local groups helped Tacloban during the wake of super typhoon Yolanda.

“During the height of the disaster there was an outpouring of volunteers, a lot of them young people, who came to the city and helped Warays get back on their feet. It moved me to see countless people who donated or flew in, got their hands dirty, and helped with the rebuilding. Ordinary people with extraordinary spirits who are able to empathize with the people of Tacloban,” Romualdez added.

“Our city was devastated by a storm surge, but we also got a surge of support from all over the country and the world. It gave our people hope and a sense of solidarity. We were not abandoned, we felt like we were not alone,” Romualdez said.

Hotels in Tacloban were fully booked with humanitarian outfits reserving the slot for months. The hotel industry did not slow down after Yolanda and some new hotels in the City had to open earlier than schedule just to meet the demands. The regional tourism office, together with a local travel company started a voluntourism program to accommodate the public who wanted to be part of Tacloban’s rebuilding program.

“The effort, commitment and contribution of volunteers are priceless and cannot be quantified. These are people who extended themselves and become a man for other.  There is an intrinsic value that is associated with helping others that cannot be repaid by money,” the solon said.

Romuladez also lauded the work of the Philippine National Police (PNP) , the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA).

Romualdez paid tribute to Kristel Mae Padasas, saying “I feel for the family of Kristel and I want to tell them that their daughter is an inspiration to many.”  He paid his respects to Padasas, who belonged to the Catholic Relief Service (CRS) volunteers for the Yolanda humanitarian Crisis. The 27-year old volunteer was from Buhi, Camarines Sur but was based in Manila before she passed away tragically.

“The untimely death of Kristel Mae Padasas in Tacloban during the visit of Pope Francis did not happen in vain. Kristel exemplified the dignity of the young who are the future of our country,” Romualdez said. Padasas died after being hit by a collapsed scaffolding used during the mass of His Holiness Pope Francis in Tacloban City.

Romualdez lauds volunteers, PNP, AFP, MMDA, LGUs in Papal visit

MANILA-With the people of Tacloban still in high spirits a couple of weeks after Pope Francis’ successful visit to the Philippines, a resolution commending the thousands of dedicated volunteers from different non-government and private organizations was filed by Leyte 1st distruct Representative Martin Romualdez. 
Romualdez, whose district was badly-hit by typhoon Yolanda in 2013, was among the public officials who welcomed the Pope on his arrival last January 17 at the Daniel Z. Romualdez airport where the Vicar of the Catholic Church held mass and interacted with the survivors of the worst recorded storm in history. 
“The government cannot be thankful enough to the individuals who sacrificed their time, put in good work, and made sure that everything went smoothly. We owe a lot to the volunteers for the successful visit of Pope Francis in Tacloban and Metro Manila,” Romualdez said 
In the House resolution, Romualdez highlighted the exemplary work of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) who made the event seamless. “Officers and men of the PNP and the AFP who were tasked to secure Pope Francis in his engagements during his 5-day Apostolic and State Visit together with different media entities showed selfless dedication to duty.” 
Romualdez also highlighted the work of local government units and personnel from the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) for their dedication to maintaining order in the Pope’s activities.
“The collaboration between the government, the volunteers and our citizens is inspiring. It’s not a secret that there are issues the divide political parties especially in Eastern Visayas, however, during the papal visit everyone worked as one to make the event a success. The possibilities are endless if we work together,” Romuladez said. 
It has been estimated that 150,000 people in Tacloban- with a population of 200,000- attended Pope Francis’s mass in the city, this amid the disturbance of Tropical Storm “Amang”  (international name: Mekkhala). The people, who braved the winds and the rain, were given yellow ponchos to protect them from the storm, a similar poncho was worn by Pope Francis on top of his vestments symbolizing his oneness with the people of Tacloban.

“Pope Francis preaches humility. As a public servant it is a humbling experience to know that it is only through working together that success can be achieved. I once again commend and congratulate the people who made the Papal visit a resounding success,” said Romualdez.

Justice for slain SAF - Recto

MANILA-If it is true that the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is harboring them, they should surrender a Malaysian bomb maker and his Filipino sidekick, the hunt for whom led to the massacre of 44 police commandoes in an MILF-influenced area in Maguindanao Sunday, Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto said today.

“Giving up Marwan and Usman is the only way that public belief on the MILF’s sincerity in pursuing peace can be restored and for the peace process to move forward,” Recto said.

He was referring to Malaysian bomb-maker and top Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, known as Marwan, and his local cohort, Basit Usman, who were the targets of the waylaid Special Action Force (SAF) team.

“Of paramount importance to all Filipinos is justice for the slain SAF,” Recto said. He expressed hope that the Board of Inquiry will come up with results soon.

“Fact is, the incident has hit a major stumbling block in the peace process. The only way to reboot it is for the MILF, if indeed it is tolerating the presence of Marwan and Usman, to give the two the boot,” Recto said.

“Any group in talks for permanent peace with the government should not be giving sanctuary to terrorists,” Recto said.

“It should not allow zones it control to be used as rest and recreation areas for wanted fugitives who by their skills and bloody curriculum vitaes present a clear and present danger to the nation,” Recto said.

Recto said even if reports are true that the two terrorists were actually in areas controlled by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), “then the MILF should not side with the BIFF but assist the police and the military in apprehending them.”

“If the MILF wants to be our BFF, then they should stop playing footsies with the BIFF,” Recto said.

If Sunday’s bloodbath was a result of the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) failure to coordinate with the MILF, as the latter had insisted, “there would still have been no need for the police to arrest them if the MILF had not allowed them to stay there in the first place.”

Recto said the MILF must undertake “grand confidence-building measures” to win back the public whose trust and support are needed for the “last mile of the peace process to succeed.”

“The BBL, the peace process have become collateral damage of Sunday’s massacre.  The fastest way to recover from the setback is if the MILF will partner with the government in arresting Marwan and Usman,” Recto said. 

Jinggoy seeks Senate probe on deadly Maguindanao clash

MANILA-Senator Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada today filed a resolution which seeks to investigate the deadly encounter between the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and other elements in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, which counted approximately 50 policemen as casualties.
Proposed Senate Resolution 1134 urges at least three committees of the chamber, namely Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs, Committee on Peace, Unification and Reconciliation and Committee on Local Government, to look into the matter in aid of legislation.
“There is a need to review the conduct of this particular police operation and to revisit protocols that have to be followed to prevent failure and misfortune in the future,” Sen. Estrada said in the proposed resolution.
Jinggoy, who is the author of several pending legislative measures which seek to strengthen the principal law enforcement institution such as Senate Bill 360 (PNP Modernization Act), Senate Bill 1964 (Magna Carta for the PNP), Senate Bill 131 (Act transferring the administrative supervision and operational control of police academy and training institute to the PNP) also wanted to know if there is a need to re-assess the capability and strength of the PNP Special Action Force especially when reports say that there were 392 members involved in the said operation yet a significant number of their colleagues were killed.

Reports on the number of fallen cops also vary – the figure provided by the PNP in Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) is higher than that given by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).
Further the resolution aims to find out whether the function of serving warrants of arrest should solely be handled by the PNP in cases when the person being served with the warrant is an international terrorist, who in this case is Malaysian Zulkifli Bin Hir, an alleged bomb maker, a member of Jemaah Islamiyah and has a $5 million bounty from the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Lastly, Sen. Estrada stated that the unfortunate incident should lead to “intensive assessment and effective reforms in law enforcement so that the death of these policemen will not be in vain.”­­

Legarda Files Resolution Commending Vigan LGU for its Heritage Preservation Efforts

MANILA-Senator Loren Legarda today commended the local government of Vigan for its continued preservation of the town as a livable heritage city following its successful inclusion in the New7Wonders Cities.

In celebration of the founding anniversary of Vigan City, Legarda authored Senate Resolution No. 1130 to urge national agencies to work collaboratively with the local government of the City, which is known for its steadfast commitment to conserve and preserve its culture and heritage.

“Vigan is a concrete example of how communities should work to be aware of their heritage, which should be appreciated, preserved and properly utilized to achieve meaningful and sustainable progress,” said Legarda.

Among the efforts of the local government is the development of a conservation complex, comprised of a “depot” where materials for restoration are stored and made accessible to the public, training centers that equip the community with the necessary skills to preserve heritage, and museums that showcase the richness of culture.

The establishment of a three-hectare “heritage park” of indigenous architecture, showcasing the landmarks and arts and crafts found among provinces of the old Ylocos zregion, is also being planned by the local government.

In December 2014, the City of Vigan was included as one of the New7Wonders Cities of the World, together with Beirut in Lebanon, Doha in Qatar, Durban in South Africa, Havana in Cuba, Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia and La Paz in Bolivia.

“The award received by Vigan recognizes the long-standing efforts and utmost dedication of the local government and residents of the Historic City of Vigan in conserving and preserving its heritage as a World Heritage Site and is further highlighted by the city’s 2012 award for Best Practice in World Heritage Site Management,” Legarda added.

“Cognizant of the perseverance of the local government of Vigan and its residents to preserve history and culture while working towards sustainable development, it is but fitting that the local government of Vigan and its residents be recognized and commended,” Legarda concluded.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Bishop Cortez, Successor of Archbishop Tirona in Prelature of Infanta

BALER, Aurora-Manila Auxiliary Bishop Bernardino Cortez, D.D. was installed last Friday, January 23, 2015 as 4th Bishop of the Prelature of Infanta in Saint Mark's Cathedral, Infanta, Quezon Province in a two hour solemn liturgical rites.

The diocese of Infanta was left vacant since 2012 after Archbishop Rolando Tria Tirona was installed as Archbishop of Nueva Caceres wherein Cortez succeeded the post.

The prelature territories are the northern portions of the provinces of Quezon and the whole of Aurora.

Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle graced the ceremony and has called to the need for prayerfulness and a profound respect for the conditions and sensibilities of human persons in pastoral life as the Prelature will continue to respond to numerous pastoral challenges, especially those related to authentic human development, the situation of indigenous peoples, and stewardship of creation.

“Sana yung mga buwaya ay maging butiki as in the picture of Saint Mary,” Tagle quoted during the rite referring to politicians.

Back to Cortez, he is now 65 years old and a former priest of the Diocese of San Pablo in Laguna where he was ordained in June 1974.

Cortez is also known in criticizing politicians who take advantage of the Filipino electorate, saying that politicians usually please voters during the election season. He said that politicians show care and concern, but after the period, everything goes back to normal and that they are doing things in exchange of something that could benefit them, not because of the love they have for others. In the heat of the 2013 midterm elections, he took a swipe at politicians who made a show of serving the people, but for their vested interests.

Cortez, Chairman of the Catholic Media Network has been known to serve his ministry with a passion, especially the pastoral challenges.

Saint John Paul II appointed Cortez as Auxiliary Bishop of Manila on May 2004 and served for 10 years, and now as 4th Bishop of Infanta, he will administer an ecclesiastical jurisdiction with almost half-a-million population, 87 percent of which are Catholics from 20 parishes.

It could be remembered that Pope Francis has appointed Cortez as the new Bishop of Infanta in Quezon province. The appointment was announced at 12 noon in Rome (7pm, Manila time) last October 27, 2014. (Jason de Asis)

Legarda Bats for Immediate Passage of Bill Favoring the Poor

MANILA-Senator Loren Legarda today urged her colleagues in the Senate to immediately approve the proposed Magna Carta of the Poor, which seeks to uplift the lives of impoverished Filipinos not only through access to basic services but also by prioritizing investments and anti-poverty programs that will enable the poor to take part in the country’s growth and development.

Legarda noted that despite the country’s continued economic progress, majority of Filipinos continue to struggle on a daily basis according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

The PSA reported that in the first six months of 2013, the poverty incidence was estimated at 24.9 percent of the population while subsistence, which refers to the numbers of Filipinos living in extreme poverty, was at 10.7 percent.

“The data clearly shows that more Filipinos remain vulnerable to poverty. This calls for the need to institutionalize long-term poverty alleviation strategies that are essential to improving the living standards of every Filipino,” Legarda stressed.

She added, “We need to eliminate disparities in basic services by adopting an area-based, sectoral and focused intervention to poverty alleviation where every poor Filipino family must be empowered to meet their minimum basic needs—access to adequate food, shelter, education, decent work, health care and safe water—through the partnership of the government and the basic sectors of society.”

Under Senate Bill No. 2515 or the Magna Carta of the Poor, which Legarda authored, all government agencies are mandated to provide full access of their services to the poor by formulating their own National Poverty Reduction Plan, which consists of all sectoral and local poverty reduction plans of each barangay, municipality, city and province.

Funding will come from various programs of the government such as Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) and Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Special Program for Employment of Students (SPES) and Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged Workers (TUPAD) Project of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), and socialized housing programs of the National Housing Authority, among others.

Moreover, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) shall design and establish a single system of classification to be used for targeting beneficiaries of the government’s poverty alleviation programs and projects to ensure that such programs reach the intended beneficiaries.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Ecija gov tells political foes on b-day : “Sorry that I have hurt you”

PALAYAN CITY – Nueva Ecija Gov. Aurelio Umali on Friday celebrated his birthday by apologizing to his political opponents who he may have hurt in his past speeches.

          Speaking at the jampacked Palayan City Convention Center here on the occasion of his 49th birthday celebration , Umali issued an impassioned appeal to politicians from his rival camp, saying they should forgive and forget and become friends, even though they may not necessarily become  allies eventually.

          “I can always say sorry to those whom I have hurt with what I have said. But even if you are a political opponent, we can both forgive each other although we may not become allies,” he said.

          He said that whatever the past is between them, there is always the future to look up to where he and the others can be friends.

          Umali’s birthday bash was attended by mayors and other politicians identified with the Bagong Lakas ng Nueva Ecija of the Josons who he unseated from the Capitol in 2007 with his landslide victory, ending their 48-year reign.

          Among the Balane-allied Mayors were Nerivi Santos-Martinez of Talavera, Francis Steven Dizon of Guimba and Froilan Nagaño Jr. of San Leonardo.   

          During his speech, Umali turned to Board Member Mark Anthony Esquivel and asked him to convey his best wishes to the latter’s father, former Jaen mayor Antonio Prospero Esquivel.

The elder Esquivel is a staunch ally of Umali’s political rival, former vice governor Mariano Cristino Joson who he defeated in 2007.    

          Looking dapper in a long-sleeved navy blue polo and jeans, the governor - who is on his last term as provincial chief executive - then said he is turning over the Capitol “to the one who owns my  heart,” referring to gubernatorial aspirant, outgoing third district Rep. Czarina Umali.

          The event looked every bit like a mini-concert of sorts with the popular Side A band and Rico J. Puno entertaining the crowd  with a variety of songs.

          The governor and his wife then sang a duet of the song “Tell Me” as if renewing their marital ties, with someone from the audience hollering: “Mabuhay ang Bagong Kasal (Long Live the Newly Wedded Couple).” He also  sang with Czarina’s running mate, Vice Gov. Jose Gay Padiernos.

          Aside from Czarina, joining the governor in the event were his mother Isabelita, daughters Gabrielle Lois, Patricia Marie, Alexandra Maxene and Ayka Mikaela, brothers Raymond and Emmanuel Umali, a former board member, former Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office director Jose Taruc V among others. (Manny Galvez)


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