Category Archives: Bulan and The rest Of Bicol Region

“Tree tunnel” in Sorsogon lost to road widening

  Yahoo South East Asia Newsroom  by Kim Arveen Patria

Trees in this portion of the highway in Bulan, Sorsogon, have grown big enough that their branches meet, as if creating a tunnel. The so-called tree tunnel is threatened by clearing operations for road widening projects. (Photo from Bulan's Facebook page)
A tree-lined portion of the highway is among the most photographed spots in Bulan, Sorsogon, but some fear the so-called “tree tunnel” will soon be seen only in photos.

Hundreds of almost century-old trees are set to be cut down to make way for wider roads in the coastal town, which is among the busiest and richest in the province.

Angry locals have questioned the government’s road widening projects. An online petition has been launched to stop the tree-cutting. Others have taken to the streets.

“Bulanenos should unite now to save the trees that have yet to be cut down by the Department of Public Works and Highways,” a Change.org petition read.

Bulan resident Ramil Agne, who posted the petition, told Yahoo Philippines that the DPWH has temporarily stopped the cutting of trees, pending a consultation.

He noted that the move came too late, however, as about 185 have already been cut from May 14 to 21. A total of 235 trees would be cut for the road work.

Officials have claimed that the roadside had to be cleared of trees to expand the highway to 20 meters from 15 meters, by adding 2.5 meters to each side.

“The traffic volume on our highway does not warrant a road widening project,” Agne said. He added that the 5-meter expansion “is not enough to call progress versus cutting trees.”

Many residents have also wondered why the road will be expanded when the local airport it leads to has been idle for decades. DPWH has not responded to requests for comment.

“I don’t want the trees to be cut down for the sake of useless road widening project. Road widening project will benefit only few people specially in terms of corruption,” said Andrew Zuniga, who signed the petition.

A “selfie campaign” has also been launched against the project, with netizens posting photos of themselves holding up appeals to save the town’s “tree tunnel.”

More than 100 trees have already been cut to make way for wider roads in Bulan, Sorsogon. (Photo by Karl CK)

Bulan’s case is the latest in what netizens have taken to calling a tree-cutting rampage by the DPWH, most of them tagged unnecessary by the areas’ locals.

Earlier this month, locals in Los Banos, Laguna, protested the cutting of trees for a widening project covering a 5.6-kilometer stretch of road near Mt. Makiling.

Local officials in Iloilo City have meanwhile asked the DPWH to explain why so-called “heritage trees” have been cut down along the city’s General Luna highway.

In Naga City, the local government is also leading efforts against a plan to cut down at least 650 trees along the Maharlika Highway in Camarines Sur province.

“Thousands of trees all over the Philippines, many of them century-old, have been cut for road widening… Many more trees face the same fate,” a separate Change.org petition said.

The petition, posted by Ivan Henares, called on the DPWH and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to stop cutting trees and review the policy.

“This review should provide a mechanism for genuine public consultation and a detailed scientific assessment the cutting of trees may have on the environment,” Henares said.

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Filed under Bulan and The rest Of Bicol Region, Bulan Developments, Crime, Environment, Nature, News

Plunder case against Governor Raul Lee et al.

 

Republic of the Philippines
OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN
Quezon City

VLADIMIR RAMON B. FRIVALDO
Incumbent Member of the
Sangguniang Panlalawigan
Complainant,

-versus- OMB-C-C-12-0355
FOR: Violation of R.A. 3019
Section 3, Paragraphs (a) and (g)

RAUL R. LEE, incumbent Governor,
ANTONIO H. ESCUDERO, incumbent Vice Governor, REBECCA D. AQUINO,
FERNANDO DAVID H. DURAN III,
ARNULFO L. PERETE, FRANCO ERIC
O. RAVANILLA, ANGEL E. ESCANDOR, BENITO L. DOMA, BERNARD H. HAO, PATRICK Q. RODRIGUEZA, NESON A. MARAÑA, all incumbent Members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Sorsogon.
HIL BENEDICT G. MANZANADES, Land Bank Legaspi Office
RENATO G. EJE Vice President,
Land Bank of the Philippines,
Respondents.
x————————————————–x

VLADIMIR RAMON B. FRIVALDO
Incumbent Member of the
Sangguniang Panlalawigan
Complainant,

-versus- OMB-C-A-12-0373
FOR: Dishonesty and Grave
Misconduct
RAUL R. LEE, incumbent Governor,
ANTONIO H. ESCUDERO, incumbent Vice Governor, REBECCA D. AQUINO,
FERNANDO DAVID H. DURAN III,
ARNULFO L. PERETE, FRANCO ERIC
O. RAVANILLA, ANGEL E. ESCANDOR, BENITO L. DOMA, BERNARD H. HAO, PATRICK Q. RODRIGUEZA, NESON A. MARAÑA, all incumbent Members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Sorsogon.
Respondents.
x————————————————–x

REPLY

Comes now Complainant, unto this Honorable Office most respectfully avers that:

1. Respondents Hil Benedict G. Manzanades and Renato G. Eje would like to point out that the loan was duly approved and evaluated by the different channels of the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) approving authority – from the recommendation of the Account Officer to the approval of different signing authorities, to show that there could not be any conspiracy between Sorsogon Governor Raul R. Lee and some officials of the LBP (See paragraph 3 of the Joint Counter-Affidavit of Messrs. Hil Benedict G. Manzanades and Renato G. Eje). With all due respect, NO EVIDENCE has been presented to prove this allegation;

2. Paragraphs 4.1; 4.2; and 4.3 of the Joint Counter-Affidavit of Hil Benedict G. Manzanadez and Renato G. Eje are correct statement of facts. Paragraph 4.4 is not known to the Complainant while paragraph 4.5 is an anomalous allegation designed only to circumvent the evidences at hand and make it appear that (i) there was no conspiracy and that the THREE HUNDRED FIFTY MILLION PESOS (P350,000,000.00) LBP loan is advantageous to the Provincial Government when in truth, it was not;

2.1 For instance, respondents Hil Benedict G. Manzanades and Renato G. Eje said in paragraph 4.5 mentioned in their Counter Affidavit, they sent a second letter to Governor Lee dated March 30, 2011 with an offer of interest rate of 5.061% as a result of recent movement of rates in the financial market (See paragraph 4.5 of the Joint Counter-Affidavit of Hil Benedict G. Manzanadez and Renato G. Eje);

“4.5 The Land Bank-LC, thru respondent Manzanades, sent its first offer letter on March 07, 2011 offering an interest rate of 7.0% and the second one on March 30, 2011 with an interest rate of 5.061% as a result of recent movement of rates in the financial market. The said letter of Land Bank dated March 07, 2011 states that all other charges shall be waived.”

2.2 With all due respect, the alleged letter contains no receipt of the Office of the Governor. In fact, in Annex “6” of the Joint Counter-Affidavit of Manzanades and Eje, undersigned complainant brought to the attention of the respondents that I was asking for the letter-proposals of the PNB and LBP but this Annex “5” of the Joint Counter-Affidavit of Messrs. Manzanades and Eje was not among those submitted even to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (See paragraph 1 item 1 of the Annex “6”);

“During the last Regular Session April 11, 2011 there was an overwhelming majority (SPM Benito L. Doma, SPM Berand Hao, SPM Angel E. Escandor, SPM Arnulfo L. Perete, SPM Rebecca D. Aquino, SPM Francisco G. Frivaldo, SPM Renato V. Guban, SPM Franco Eric O. Ravanilla and SPM Nelson Marana) except the undersigned who voted in favor of the Committee Report no.27-2011 of the Committee on Budget and Appropriation joint with the Committee on Rules, Privileges and Amendments in favor of a measure authorizing Gov. Raul R. Lee to enter into a loan agreement to any banking/lending institution in the amount of P350.0 million loan and disregarding my valid objection, on the following grounds:

1. There is still a pending motion referred to the said joint Committee to tackle the undersigned letter dated April 2, 2011 requesting for copies of the letter proposals from both the Philippine National Bank and the Land Bank of the Philippinesmitted and received, Governor Lee would not have made a letter dated May 17, 2011 (Annex “K” of my Complaint) addressed to Vice Governor Antonio H. Escudero submitting the proposed Loan Agreement from the Philippine National Bank (PNB) for perusal, review and ratification as well as the proposed PNB Loan Agreement requested by the Governor to be ratified (Annex “L” of my Complaint);

2.4 Even granting without admitting that Annex “5” of the Joint Counter-Affidavit of Messrs. Manzanades and Eje was submitted, the allegations in paragraph 4.5 that all charges shall be waived according to Annex “4” are NOT CORRECT. Review of Annexes “4” of the Joint Counter-Affidavit reveal the truth.

“Fees : 1% handling and ½ % commitment fees, inspection, and appraisal/application fees are waived. Pre-payment fee of 3% shall also be waived but it shall be collected in case of loan take-out by other banks and if required by special financing program.”

2.5 Worst, when the two (2) Loan Agreement (Term Loan 13 and Omnibus Loan Term) with LBP was executed, all these fees that should have been waived but are actually still included in Section 5 of the Loan Agreement (Term Loan 13) of Annex “14” and Section 5 of Omnibus Loan Term of Annex “15”, as follows:

Loan Agreement (Term Loan 13)

“Section 5. Other Fees and Charges: Subject to a 3% pre-payment penalty in case of loan take out by other banks or as required by the Special Funder. Commitment handling, filing/processing & appraisal/inspection fees are waived unless required by Special Funder. GRT for the account of the LGU.”

And

Omnibus Loan Term

“Section 5. Fees/Charges. Commitment, handling, filing/processing and appraisal/inspection fees are waived unless required by Special Funder. The LOAN shall be subject to a pre-payment penalty of three percent (3%) In case of loan take-out by other banks or if required by Special Funder.”

2.6 What about the alleged offer of 5.061% by Respondent Hil Benedict G. Manzanadez Department Manager/Head, Legazpi LC contained in the letter dated March 30, 2011, marked as Annex “5” in their Joint Counter-Affidavit, the same has never happened, on Section 4 of the Loan Agreement (Term Loan 13) of Annex “14” and Omnibus Term Loan of Annex “15” provides thus:

Loan Agreement (Term Loan 13)

“Section 4. Interest: Prevailing prime rate at the time of availment plus 1% min. spread, provided a minimum of 3% Account Profitability Rate (APR) is met. Subject to quarterly repricing or at applicable special financing rate if special funds is accessed.

And

Omnibus Term Loan

“Section 4. Interest Rate/s. Interest of the LOAN shall be equivalent to LENDER’S prevailing prime rate at the time of availment at applicable special financing rates, if funded under special financing program. Gross Receipt Tax (GRT) shall be for account of the BORROWER.

2.7 Respondent Manzanes offer of 5.061% has become an illusion. It is no longer found in any of the two LBP Loan Agreements (marked in the Annexes “14” and “15” of the Joint Counter-Affidavit of Messrs. Manzanades and Eje) both signed by Respondent Governor Lee and Respondent LBP Vice President Renato G. Eje.

Unfortunately, Respondents Gov. Raul R. Lee, Vice Gov. Antonio H. Escudero, Board Members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan namely Rebecca D. Aquino, Fernando David H. Duran III, Arnulfo L. Perete, Franco Eric O. Ravanilla, Angel E. Escandor, Benito L. Doma, Bernard H. Hao, Patrick Q. Rodrigueza did not exert effort nor initiated action to secure a concessional interest rates lower than the prevailing interest rates set by the Central Bank’s standard reference rate, thereby violating Article 395 paragraph C of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Local Government Code (R.A. 7160) which provides thus:

“Government financial and other lending institutions are authorized to grant Local Government Units such loans, credit lines, advances, and other forms of indebtedness for projects and purposes referred in paragraph (B) hereof, preferably at concessional interest rates lower than the prevailing rates as may be authorized by the governing board of the financial or lending institution.

Prevailing rates shall mean the Central Bank standard reference rate for medium-and long-term loans.”

3. With their admissions on their Counter-Affidavits and Omnibus Joint Counter Affidavits’ of Respondents Gov. Lee, Vice Gov. Escudero, Board Members Aquino, Duran, Perete, Ravanilla, Escandor, Doma, Hao and Rodrigueza about the truth regarding the existence of the PNB proposal (marked as Annex “J” of my Complaint) and the fact that the latter was the one most advantageous to the Provincial Government an offense for violation of Section 3(a and g) of R.A. No. 3019 was indeed committed, thus:

Section 3. Corrupt practices of public officers. In addition to acts or omissions of public officers already penalized by existing law, the following shall constitute corrupt practices of any public officer and are hereby declared to be unlawful:
(a) Persuading, inducing or influencing another public officer to perform an act constituting a violation of rules and regulations duly promulgated by competent authority or an offense in connection with the official duties of the latter, or allowing himself to be persuaded, induced, or influenced to commit such violation or offense.
xxxx
(g) Entering, on behalf of the Government, into any contract or transaction manifestly and grossly disadvantageous to the same, whether or not the public officer profited or will profit thereby.

4. Indeed, with the admission of the truth that the PNB proposal of five percent (5%) is most advantageous than 5.061% of LBP but was never acted upon by the Provincial Government and by the Respondents, the evidence of guilt of respondents are strong enough to warrant immediate preventive suspension from the office.

5. The undersigned would like to respectfully reiterate that in a Letter dated July 5, 2012 (marked as Annex “N” in my Complaint) of Dominador O. Jardin, Prov’l. Gov’t. Dept. Head of the Provincial Planning and Development Office (PPDO), addressed to the undersigned complainant, he stated that his Office could NOT come upon any feasibility study of the list of projects such as roads, bridges, buildings, farm to market roads and tourism facilities funded in the P350,000,000.00 LBP loan from available existing records. These only shows that the PPDO officer nor his office was made a part of the official action of the provincial government to come up with the decision to justify and substantiate the loan application for some “priority projects“ of respondents.

6. Worst, based on the Letter dated June 1, 2012 (marked as Annex “V” in my Complaint) of Provincial Treasurer Efilda C. Nogales and Provincial Accountant Mercedes J. Ativo duly noted by Respondent Gov. Lee, the Provincial Government had ALREADY PAID an amount of SEVENTY TWO MILLION NINE HUNDRED TWENTY FIVE THOUSAND NINE HUNDRED FORTY EIGHT PESOS AND SIXTY ONE CENTAVOS (P72,925, 948.61) to various contractors.

In sum, the THREE HUNDRED FIFTY MILLION PESOS (P350,000,000.00) LBP Loan resulted in grave irreparable damage and prejudice to the Sorsogon taxpayers.

In view of the said acts of Respondents Gov. Raul R. Lee, Vice Gov. Antonio H. Escudero, Board Members Rebecca D. Aquino, Fernando Dave H. Duran III, Arnulfo L. Perete, Franco Eric O. Ravanilla, Angel E. Escandor, Benito L. Doma, Bernard H. Hao and Patrick Q. Rodrigueza, they should also be held liable for violation of Section 2 of Republic Act No. 7080 or “An Act Defining and Penalizing the Crime of Plunder, thus:

Section 2. Definition of the Crime of Plunder; Penalties – Any public officer who, by himself or in connivance with members of his family, relatives by affinity or consanguinity, business associates, subordinates or other persons, amasses, accumulates or acquires ill-gotten wealth through a combination or series of overt criminal acts as described in Section 1 (d) hereof in the aggregate amount or total value of at least Fifty million pesos (P50,000,000.00) shall be guilty of the crime of plunder and shall be punished by reclusion perpetua to death. Any person who participated with the said public officer in the commission of an offense contributing to the crime of plunder shall likewise be punished for such offense. In the imposition of penalties, the degree of participation and the attendance of mitigating and extenuating circumstances, as provided by the Revised Penal Code, shall be considered by the court. The court shall declare any and all ill-gotten wealth and their interests and other incomes and assets including the properties and shares of stocks derived from the deposit or investment thereof forfeited in favor of the State.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, Complainant respectfully prays of the Honorable Office to institute the appropriate charges against Respondents and in the meantime order their immediate preventive suspension from the office;

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto affixed my signature this 12th day of February 2013 at Quezon City, Philippines.

VLADIMIR RAMON B. FRIVALDO
Affiant

SUBSCRIBED AND SWORN to before me this 12th day of February 2013 at Quezon City, Philippines. Affiant exhibited to me his Driver’s License bearing number 3-90-102197 containing his picture and signature as competent evidence of his person.

ADMINISTERING OFFICER

 

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Filed under Bulan and The rest Of Bicol Region, Graft and Corruption, Politics, SANGGUNIANG PANLALAWIGAN, Sorsogon City, VLADIMIR RAMON B. FRIVALDO

The politics of an executive order

Marginal Note

By Felix ‘Boy’ Espineda, Jr., BicolToday.com

At this early takers of greening position in local politics here in the province of Sorsogon are throwing stones with their possible opponents by way of couched personal interest, using position held by a family member who were given a woeful feedback on how to upend the incumbency in a position of influence and power.

For lately, legislative fiat is being secured by a woman chief executive inviting attention to its supervisory power over barangay affairs specifically in the monitoring of national funded projects. The scheme was seen as an early fireworks to the floated interest of her husband who is aiming the seat of an incumbent representative.

Disguising its family intent by way of an executive order was too much for the taking of the provincial board where sitting committee members were heard that its all about politics and nothing more. The exercise was futile, though arguing certain provisions of the local government code which was interpreted to suit its political purposes.

It was a dismal performance by the lady chief executive and her staff who argued their cause but who willfully misinterpreted the exact provisions of the local government code. The committee does not want to be in the crossfire for 2013 is just about in the corner, thus doing the explaining is the provincial director of the interior and local government, supplying the missing, omitted provisions of the local government code with regard to the role, duties and responsibilities of a chief executive.

Pity for the executive order is full of antagonistic ideas to the sitting congressman and did put to test the position of the engineering district, thus the value of loyalty was opened.

Creating a technical monitoring team was too good to be true, it was the icing of the executive order, but the biggest chunk of the take is to negate the authority of an independent local government executive to accept a finish project in his barangay funded out from the national treasury specifically, congressional funds. That was the rub, and the play of the executive order is rubbish for it overstep its limitations and intends to transgress upon a legal authority to function as clearly defined in the local government code.

Taking the issue of corruption and using the line of the present administration of ‘matuwid na daan’ the executive order falls smack in the face of the executive, but do not blame her, it was her husband who purloined the interest by his ilks in the municipal government. He counts his people for he served nine long dubious years and the wife is currently on her last term in their moonless town.

Here’s another rub, at the hearing, she was overheard name-dropping a cabinet secretary who according to her is a relative, as if pushing out the contradiction of the provincial director of the interior and local government for their department is the same. But, to no avail.

Their object of ire is a man who do’esnt expect to win but took the seat from under for his district believed that he performed far better as local chief executive that his contenders.

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Filed under Bulan and The rest Of Bicol Region, Mayor Helen De Castro - LGU Bulan, News, PIO- Bulan, Politics, SANGGUNIANG PANLALAWIGAN, Sorsogon City, To Be Or Not To Be, Views and Concern

DILG closes the political intent of Bulan town executive

By Felix ‘Boy’ Espineda, Jr.

SORSOGON CITY (BicolToday.com/29-Feb-12) – The day of the hearts was not too good for the lady executive of Bulan town here when the joint committee of rules, privileges and amendments and the committee on public works, highways and infrastructure of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Sorsogon treated the core issues of Executive Order No. 1, Series of 2012 issued by the Mayor Helen de Castro which was based on Article III, section 32 of the Local Government Code of 1991 which speaks of general supervision.

The executive order requires and enjoins all public infrastructure and other projects within the direct supervision of the local chief executive . . . especially those implemented in the barangays before acceptance should be inspected and evaluated first by the municipal government.It also created a project monitoring team tasked to recommend for the final acceptance of the project. The committees at the onset set the tone of clarification, distancing themselves from the perilous issues of politics and instead tasked the DILG Provincial Director, Dr. Ruben Baldeo, to explain the limitations of an executive in executing administrative laws.

His explanation, doused cold water to the politically couched executive order.

DILG Baldeo’s observations said, that “supervising officials merely see to it that the rules are followed, but by themselves do not lay down the rules, nor they have the discretion to modify or replace them”.further stating that “if the rules are not observed, they may order the work done or redone, but only to conform to such rules”, in effect interpreting for Mayor de Castro the intentions and applications of Article III, Section 32, which the town executive interpreted to suit a political need.

Her executive order further laid down rules and regulations that limit the performance of the function of concerned barangay, in effect exercising control over the punong barangay which will limit the authority of the punong barangay.

Baldeo’s likewise zeroed in the creation of the executive order of a project monitoring team which he opined runs counter with the DILG MC 2004-78, subject of which is the organization/reactivation of project monitoring teams in the local government units, for it does not conform with the mandatory membership as provided for in the circular.

The circular has a mandatory membership for a project monitoring team that includes the DILG official assigned in the locality, two NGO or PO’s representative and four members to be appointed by the local chief executive from among five nominees of the local development council.

De Castro’s monitoring team came from the municipal engineering office. BicolToday.com

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GOING FISHING IS MORE FUN

JGL Eye

By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA

(© 2012 Journal Group Link International)

CHICAGO (jGLi) – The last time I went sea swimming was in 2005 when I accepted an invitation from Filipino American lawyer and businesswoman Loida Nicolas Lewis, my kababayan (town mate) from Sorsogon City in the Philippines, to go swimming among the Butandings, white-spotted monster but gentle whale sharks, frequenting the mouth of Donsol Bay, part of the Sorsogon Bay and what is now known as Philippine Western Sea (formerly South China Sea).

It was also a homecoming for me as Donsol is my birthplace and two of my other siblings – my elder sister, Gregory, who died at the age of six after being run over on Aug. 18, 1952 by a bicycle driven by a hit-and-run cyclist named David Ricafort, and my younger brother, Ramon, who shortened his name into Ray when he became a U.S. Citizen.

Joining that trip were Loida’s younger sister, Mely Nicolas, now Secretary of Commission on Filipinos Overseas, who will be one of the guests at 2012 NaFFAA’s 10th National Empowerment Conference in Detroit, Michigan on Aug. 2-5, 2012, and Loida’s youngest sibling, Pastor Francis Nicolas, and my kababayan from neighboring Albay province and fellow Chicago resident, Marlon L. Pecson, and others.

But last Monday, July 9th, I went swimming again by the sea. This time by the shore of Imperial Beach, a residential beach city in San Diego County, California, with a population of 26,324 (2010 census). The city is the most southern beach city in Southern California and the West Coast of the United States. It is in the South Bay area of San Diego County, 14.1 miles south of downtown San Diego and 5 miles northwest of downtown Tijuana, Mexico.

IRRESISTIBLE WAVES

The shore is part of the expansive Pacific Ocean. It does not have the inviting Butandings but its sizable waves were irresistible for me as they reminded me of the Pacific Ocean waters in far-off Matnog, Sorsogon, the birthplace of my mom, Consolacion G. Garra.

Like Matnog’s waves that slap into the shore that create the ear-splitting sounds, where the town got its name for “Matonog” (loud sound), Imperial Beach’s waves were so alluring that even if the cold westerly winds were whipping my front and my back with piercing cold winds, I still dipped into the waters and ventured into the deeper part, where waves had not peaked before breaking into micro-bubbles that lash the sea shores.

This time I rode the waves with a surfboard that I could only paddle but not stand on. Although, I still took on water, my reunion with the waves was electric that blew my mind.

My nephew, Rico Villamor, suggested that we also harvest some clams (sea shells) that we can collect by pushing our two bare feet deeper into the knee-deep sands while we twist our feet. In combing the beach, if we felt something as hard as a stone, there was a likelihood that we stepped on a clam, which we can collect up to the maximum of six.

Of course, there was no way that we could reach the limit ourselves as we came up empty-handed. Unlike in massive Sorsogon Bay shores, seashells could be collected in buckets in just a few hours even in dry but still soft sands.

After an hour of swimming, I told Rico’s mom, Violeta L. Villamor, my elder sister, that I was heading to the nearby Imperial Beach pier, where my brother, Ray and Ray’s wife, Angie, were angling for tamban or small milk fish.

After an hour of fishing, Ray and Angie, and Rico’s brother, Nino, whispered that they only caught five tambans while a nearby angler was pulling up 2 to 4 tambans every minute.

The angler, who looked like a Mexican, appeared to have so mastered the art and science of catching tambans that other anglers, mostly Filipinos, can only shake their heads in disbelief.

EYES ON THE PRIZE

 But it took us an hour or so to figure out how the Mexican caught tambans. If one had stared long enough into the wavy waters 40 feet below, he could spot a school of tambans moving in groups. All one had to do to catch them was to throw his hook, line and sinker in the middle of tambans and pull it up and release it a little bit. Sooner or later, a tamban or two or sometimes three and four would race to nibble at several hooks tied to small colorful feather-like “jigs” that served as “baits” and the tambans would be pulling his line away. By pulling his line up gingerly but firmly so that the tamban/s could not get away, one could easily load the tamban/s safely into the waiting container. One can also catch a variety of other fishes but they are few and far between.

After a few hours when sun started to disappear from the horizon, we ran out of container and we headed home.

It was a reunion of sorts for the relatives and friends of the young Villamor family, whose patriarch, Jose Grones Villamor of Sorsogon and Imperial Beach cities, died of lung cancer on July 1st at the age of 72.

We were there to pay our last respects to Joe Villamor, my brother-in-law, at his funeral services last Saturday, July 7th, at the National City and Chula Vista Mortuary and Cremation Service at 611 Highland Avenue. Those of us from Chicago, including Ray, Angie, our eldest sister, Tonie L. Rey, were there to extend our moral support to a grieving family member. Our other sister, Dr. Dona L. Hernandez, like, Tonie, who paid a visit a month ago to Joe Villamor before he died of lung cancer, decided to stay put in Chicago. But Dona would be offering a requiem mass for Joe at the 10:30 a.m. mass on Sunday, July 22nd, at Chicago’s St. Gregory the Great Church.

Also on hand at the funeral services were the friends and co-workers of Joe and his children, Onie (Jose L. Villamor), his wife, Cathy and children Joey and Jaye, both girls; Rico, his wife, Evelyn Geraldin, and their children, Gaby (Gabrielle) and Corylene, also both girls; the widow of Melvin, Jennet, and their children Michael and Viola; and Nino and Jesse, the latter two are both in the U.S. Navy.

Joe’s cremated remains is going to be brought to Sorsogon City to show it to Joe’s other children, namely, Manuel, Roman and Celeste, and Joe’s grandchildren.

What made Joe’s life remarkable and inspirational is that he was able to fulfill his American Dream after just 14 years of immigrating to the U.S. when he was able to convince Nino and Jesse to join the U.S. Navy.

Perhaps, Joe, who used to fish by the Imperial Beach pier, gave us a lift in catching a big-bucket full of tambans as his way of appreciation when we flew in from Chicago to attend his funeral services. Good bye, Joe!   (lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)

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OPPOSING THE RATIFICATION OF MEMORANDUM OF AGREEMENT OF THE PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT OF SORSOGON AND LAND BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES

By VLADIMIR RAMON B. FRIVALDO

October 19, 2011

THE HONORABLE MEMBERS
OF THE SANGGUNIANG PANLALAWIGAN
Sorsogon City

Attention: HON. ANTONIO H. ESCUDERO, JR., MNSA
Vice Governor/Presiding Officer

Subject: OPPOSING THE RATIFICATION OF MEMORANDUM OF AGREEMENT OF THE
PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT OF SORSOGON AND LAND BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES

Dear Vice Governor Escudero,

Please register my opposition in the strongest terms against the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between Sorsogon Gov. Raul R. Lee and Land Bank of the Philippines (Legazpi Branch) relative to the P350.0 M Loan which was signed today October 19, 2011, witnessed by majority members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.  This MOA is scheduled to be ratified, confirmed and approved in a resolution form by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan on Friday, October 21, 2011.

An irregularity can be easily traced on the sequence of events prior to signing of the aforesaid MOA.  On October 5, 2011, Gov. Raul Lee wrote a letter to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan Members enjoining specially its Presiding Officer, the Chairs and Members of the Committee on Budget and Appropriations and the Committee on Public Works, Infrastructure and Highways to be present in the signing of the MOA relative to the Loan of the Provincial Government of Sorsogon with the Land Bank of the Philippines.  That signing will be held on October 19, 2011, 9:00 am at the LBP Legazpi City Office.  Now, why did Gov. Raul Lee dated his letter to Sangguniang Panlalawigan on October 5, 2011?  Obviously, the approval of this controversial loan was pre-arranged by Gov. Raul Lee with the officials of the LBP Legazpi City Office as cohorts.

Please note that the letter of Mr. Hil Benedict G. Manzanadez, Dept. Manager and Head LBP Legazpi City Office is dated October 17, 2011 when he notified Gov. Raul R. Lee about the LBP approval of the P350.00 M loan.  This letter was received by the Office of the Governor only yesterday, October 18, 2011.

My opposition against the ratification, confirmation and approval of this gargantuan LBP Loan, among others, are as follows:

1. The people of Sorsogon will remember October 19, 2011 as a black day our poor province will be sunk deeper to the oblivion by the gargantuan P350.0 million loan by Gov. Raul R. Lee.  Many believe that our province will never move forward in the proper direction, ACCOUNTABILITY and TRANSPARENCY to the Filipino people is not upheld by most of our provincial officials.  Without this basic tenet of good governance, the culture of impunity and shameless corruption will continue to pervade throughout our provincial government, leading to more poverty for our poor people.

2. Up to now, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan including the undersigned has not yet received any copy of the auditing and accounting report on the previous P260.0 M LBP Loan obtained by former Gov. Sally A. Lee.  We, the present SP Members and the public as well, have the right to know the status or what the hell happened to the previous Administration’s loan, to determine whether or not said loan was really needed and was properly utilized or spent for the very purpose for which it was applied for.

3. The pending election protest against Gov. Lee docketed as Comelec Case No. SPA 09-187 (DC) entitled, Jose G. Solis versus Raul R. Lee filed last December 19, 2009 around 11:45 AM which is a Petition for Disqualification and Cancellation of Certificate of Candidacy.  Case status – ACTIVE.

4. A civil case filed against Gov. Raul Lee led by Matnog Parish Priest Fr. Alexander Jerus, the Alyansa Laban sa Mina sa Matnog (ALMMA), Bayan Sorsogon and private individuals residing in the Municipality of Matnog opposed the iron ore mining operation in Barangay Bolacawe, in Matnog town for total violation of R.A. 7076 otherwise known as the People’s Small Scale Mining Act, R.A. 7942, the Philippine Mining Act, R.A. 7160, Local Government Code.  Now pending before the Regional Trial Court in Sorsogon City.

5. A Graft and Corrupt Practices case against Gov. Raul Lee is now pending before the Sandiganbayan involving the alleged anomalous implementation eight years ago of the province’s Distance Learning Center Program (DLCP) involving P22 million pesos in funds sourced thru LBP and PNB loans.

6. And the most popular of all is the graft case of Gov. Raul Lee’s alleged direct involvement in the controversial P728.00 M fertilizer fund scam. Both graft charges have been elevated to the Sandiganbayan by the Ombudsman.

7. The LBP Notice of Loan Approval states that it is a violation under its General Terms and Conditions, Item No. 1 which provides that the LBP reserves the right to withhold loan releases should there be a case filed against the LGU or its officials involving the project to be financed.  But Governor Lee is the top Sorsogon official who signed this MOA and who will also administer and handle all fund releases of all projects under this P350.0 M loan.  We all know that Mr. Lee is already saddled by several criminal, anti-graft and corrupt practices cases pending before the Sandiganbayan and other courts.  What kind of evaluation was conducted by LBP and the Sangguniang Panlalawigan? Where is logic here?  Hindi ba ito ang nauuso sa buong mundo na corporate greed.  O ang tinatawag na bureaucratic capitalism?

Instead of condemning and sanctioning the questionable actions of the provincial governor, will it not appear that the Sangguniang Panlalawigan and Land Bank of the Philippines (Legazpi Office) have conveniently colluded with each other in tolerating the wrongdoings of Gov. Raul Lee by granting this mind boggling P350.0 million loan which shall be paid by the people’s money?  This P350.0 M loan is the biggest loan in the history of Sorsogon. The justification and the necessity of this loan is practically nil.  If no one from my distinguished colleagues in the Sangguniang Panlalawigan do not see anything wrong about this huge P350.0 M LBP loan and other previous loans, something must be very wrong somewhere.  Shall LBP and SP allow themselves to be like the three monkeys? SEE NO EVIL, TALK NO EVIL AND HEAR NO EVIL.

In sum, ratifying this Memorandum of Agreement by a majority vote of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan Members, such measure will only further inflame the peoples distrust to the Sorsogon provincial officials.  Sangguniang Panlalawigan will appear endorsing the people’s hard-earned money to a governor beseted by several anti-graft and corrupt practices cases and whose integrity is already in serious doubt.

My dear colleagues, let us all unite and protect the people’s money.  Let us denounce the Land Bank of the Philippines (Legazpi Office) and identify those people responsible for the approval of the loan passage for NOT exercising due diligence, prudence and sound judgment in evaluating the Sorsogon loan application for purposes of transparency and accountability at all times.  LBP corporate decision is also NOT in consonance with President Aquino’s “MATUWID NA LANDAS.”

God bless us.  Thank you.

Very truly yours,

VLADIMIR RAMON B. FRIVALDO

Cc:
Ms. Gilda Pico, LBP President
Sen. Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr., Chair Senate Committee on Local Government
Cong. George P. Arnaiz, Chair, Congressional Committee on Local Government
Cong. Deogracias B. Ramos, Jr., Member, Congressional Committee on Local Government
All Sorsogon Mayors and Barangay Chairmen

——————-Bulan Observer————————–

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Filed under Bulan and The rest Of Bicol Region, Friends and Opinions, Graft and Corruption, SANGGUNIANG PANLALAWIGAN, Sorsogon City, Views and Concern, VLADIMIR RAMON B. FRIVALDO