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Cong. Albee Benitez leads Housing Discussions

Wed, 08/16/2017 - 11:07


August 16, 2017



Rep. Albee Benitez leads the discussion on rationalizing housing financing programs in light of proposed reorganization of housing agencies under the Department of Human Settlements, earlier today jointly with the Committee on Government Enterprises, and at the moment with members of the Committee on Housing and Urban Development.

NOCHP covers 7,067 EB Magalona families

Mon, 08/14/2017 - 20:21



on Monday, August 14, 2017
BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN


The provincial government of Negros Occidental continues to provide comprehensive health care to Negrenses, with 7,067 families in EB Magalona having been added to its list of recipients.



Barangay Captain Rio Jemella welcomes the NOCHP staff during the distribution of heath cards to 628 of her constituents in Brgy Consing, EB Magalona.*

A total of 1,101 families in the remote barangays of Canlusong, San Isidro and Consing, received their NOCHP (Negros Occidental Comprehensive Health Program) cards Friday.

Recipients of the cards and their dependents will be able to avail of free hospitalization and medical check-ups in all government hospitals in the province.

Despite the bad weather and almost impassable terrain, NOCHP personnel, assisted by the staff of Mayor Marvin Malacon and Rep. Alfredo Benitez, delivered the health cards to their recipients Friday.

Canlusong, a mountainous barangay and a former hotbed of insurgency, is about 35 kilometers away from the poblacion of EB Magalona.

NOCHP is a priority program of the provincial government of Negros Occidental under the Negros First Provincial Executive-Legislative Agenda of Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr., in tandem with the six congressional districts.

The marathon distribution of NOCHP cards in all barangays of EB Magalona, completion target is August 25.
Malacon thanked Marañon and Benitez, for the health care package to EB Magalona residents, saying it will be a big help, especially to indigent families, as they will no longer have problemsin hospital bills when they are confined in government hospitals.

Barangay captains Meriam Porras of Canlusong, Rio Jemella of Consing and Joey Abonalles of San Isidro also welcomed the health care package for their constituents.

Among the six districts of Negros Occidental, the third district continues to lead in the implementation of the NOCHP program.

As of July 31 this year, the third district had 59,714 member-families, out of 235,171 families enrolled in the whole province, NOCHP records showed.* GPB

 

Source: The Visayan Daily Star

1-PACMAN party-list solon is richest congressman in 2016, SALN shows

Sat, 08/12/2017 - 15:27



By ERWIN COLCOL, GMA News
Published August 11, 2017 9:56am
Updated August 11, 2017 10:16am

1-PACMAN Party-list Representative Michael Odylon Romero is the richest congressman from the House of Representatives in 2016, the summary of their Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth shows.

Romero has declared that as of December 31, 2016, he has total assets of P7.058 billion and total liabilities of P48.41 million, resulting in a net worth of P7.009 billion.

The summary of the SALN of the congressmen was released to the media on Friday.

Following Romero with the highest net worth are DIWA Party-list Representative Emmeline Aglipay Villar with P1.409 billion, Negros Occidental 3rd District Representative Alfredo Benitez with P942 million, Ilocos Norte 2nd District Representative Imelda Marcos with P917 million, and Quezon City 4th District Representative Feliciano Belmonte Jr. with P852 million.

The next five richest congressman are as follows:

  • MANILA TEACHERS party-list Representative Virgilio Lacson (P768 million)
  • Marikina City 1st District Representative Bayani Fernando (P738 million)
  • Batangas 6th District Representative Vilma Santos-Recto (P522 million)
  • Davao del Norte 2nd District Representative Antonio Floirendo Jr. (P491 million)
  • Leyte 1st District Representative Yedda Marie Romualdez (P477 million)

Meanwhile, having the least net worth among the 294 lawmakers is Kabataan Party-list Representative Sarah Jane Elago, with only P50,000.

Following her are Camarines Sur 3rd District Representative Gabriel Bordado Jr. with P179,071.71, GABRIELA Women's Party-list Representative Arlene Brosas with P501,000, KALINGA Party-list Representative Abigail Faye Ferriol-Pascual with P672,050.88, and COOP NATCO Party-list Representative Sabiano Canama with P780,000.

The next five congressmen with the least net worth are:

  • ACT Teachers Party-list Representative France Castro (P904,053.13)
  • GABRIELA Women's Party-list Representative Emmi De Jesus (P1.245 million)
  • YACAP Party-list Representative Benhur Lopez Jr. (P1.255 million)
  • Bayan Muna Party-list Representative Carlos Zarate (P1.351 million)
  • AASENSO Party-list Representative Teodoro "Ted" Montoro (1.785 million)

According to Section 8(a) of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, public servants are required to file their SALN within 30 days after assuming position, on or before April 30 of every following year, and within 30 days after separation from service.

In the SALN, the assets such as land, houses, and cash, liabilities including personal or institutional loans, and the business and financial interests of a government official, his or her spouse and unmarried children under 18 years old still living in the household are declared under oath.

Source: GMA News Online

1-Pacman solon is House’s richest with P7B declared in SALN

Sat, 08/12/2017 - 15:20



By: Jhoanna Ballaran - @inquirerdotnetINQUIRER.net / 11:12 AM August 11, 2017

A port magnate and sportsman representing a partylist for the marginalized and displaced sector is the richest member of the House of Representatives, according to the latest Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) submitted by 294 legislators.

1-Pacman Partylist Representative Michael Odylon “Mikee” Romero topped the 294-member chamber in terms of wealth, with a declared net worth of P7,009,588,018 as of December 31, 2016.

Romero has declared P7,058,000,000 total assets and P48,411,982 total liabilities.

Romero’s family owns Harbour Centre Port Terminal, Inc., which operates the Manila North Harbor terminal. He also owns a Philippine Basketball Association team, GlobalPort Batang Pier.

Kabataan Partylist Representative Sarah Jane Elago, on the other hand, is at the bottom of the list for having the least wealth with P50,000 net worth.

The summary of SALN, which was posted Thursday night on the website of the House of Representatives, showed that the top 10 richest lawmakers have at least P400 million to P1 billion in net worth.

The top 10 richest members of the House are the following:

  1. 1-Pacman Partylist Rep. Michael Odylon Romero – P7,009,588,018
  2. Diwa Partylist Rep. Emmeline Aglipay-Villar – P1,409,149,497
  3. Negros Occidental 3rd District Rep. Alfredo Abelardo Benitez – P942,964,471
  4. Ilocos Norte 2nd District Rep. Imelda Marcos – P917,800,000
  5. Quezon City 4th District Rep. Feliciano Belmonte Jr. – P852,132,586.81
  6. Manila Teachers Partylist Rep. Virgilio Lacson – P768,824,757.93
  7. Marikina City 1st District Rep. Bayani Fernando – P738,000,000
  8. Batangas 6th District Rep. Vilma Santos-Recto – P522,610,452.59
  9. Davao del Norte 2nd District Rep. Antonio Floirendo Jr. – P491,710,128.16
  10. Leyte 1st District Rep. Yedda Marie Romualdez – P477,940,905.59

House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, meanwhile, is at the 50th spot with a total net worth of P86,498,186.34.

Former president and now Pampanga 2nd District Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo ranked 11th with P434,636,322.52 declared net worth. JPV

Source: Inquirer.net

Negros Occidental lawmaker now 3rd richest congressman

Sat, 08/12/2017 - 12:08




Saturday, August 12, 2017
By MARCHEL P. ESPINA



BACOLOD. Negros Occidental Third District Representative Alfredo Benitez and wife Dominique at President Rodrigo Duterte’s State of the Nation Address last month. (Carla N. Cañet)

NEGROS Occidental Third District Representative Alfredo Benitez is still among the richest members of the House of Representative, based on his 2016 statements of assets, liabilities, and net worth (SALN).

Benitez was the third richest congressman with a net worth of P942.96 million. He improved from number five last year to number three this year as his net worth increased from P880.017 million.

He has total assets of P1.083 billion, with P140.761 million in liabilities.

Other lawmakers from Negros Occidental who declared their SALNs were Alejandro Mirasol (Fifth District) with P21.676 million net worth; Leo Rafael Cueva (Second District), P12.541 million; Mercedes Alvarez (Sixth District), P8.356 million; Melecio Yap Jr. (First District), with P8.141 million; and Greg Gasataya (Bacolod City), P2.595 million.

Of the 294 lawmakers in the country, neophyte Michael Odylon Romero (1-Pacman party-list) is the richest congressman with a net worth of P7.009 billion followed by Emmeline Aglipay-Villar (Diwa party-list) with P1.409 billion.

Rounding up the top 10 are Imelda Marcos (2nd District, Ilocos Norte) with P917.80 million net worth; Feliciano Belmonte Jr. (4th District, Quezon City), P852.13 million; Virgilio Lacson (Manila Teachers party-list), P768.82 million; Bayani Fernando (1st District, Marikina City), P738 million; Vilma Santos-Recto (6th District, Batangas), P522.61 million; and Antonio Floirendo Jr. (2nd District, Davao del Norte), P491.71 million.

Source: Sunstar Bacolod

IN THE KNOW: Charter change

Fri, 08/11/2017 - 16:34



Philippine Daily Inquirer / 07:32 AM August 11, 2017

In 1986, following the ouster of dictator Ferdinand Marcos, Corazon Aquino proclaimed a revolutionary government and suspended the 1973 Constitution.

She then formed a 50-member constitutional commission to write a new Constitution, which was approved in a plebiscite in 1987.

The 1987 Constitution provides three ways for its amendment:

A constituent assembly (Con-ass), where Congress is convened into a constituent assembly to propose revisions

A constitutional convention (Con-con) by specially elected delegates

A people’s initiative, which requires a petition by 12 percent of the country’s voting population and at least 3 percent of registered voters per legislative district.

A revision of the Constitution itself and not just its specific provisions would have to be done through a Con-ass or a Con-con, according to Fr. Joaquin Bernas, one of the framers of the 1987 Constitution.

There have been several attempts to amend the Constitution since the Ramos administration.

In 1997, a signature campaign, or people’s initiative, was launched, seeking a shift to a parliamentary system of government and the lifting of term limits on elected officials, including then President Fidel V. Ramos. The Supreme Court shot down the initiative, declaring it lacked an enabling law.

Former President Joseph Estrada pushed for Charter change, which he called Concord, or Constitutional Correction for Development, to allow foreigners to own land, public utilities and media facilities. Strong opposition from the Catholic Church and other sectors forced Estrada to shelve the proposal in January 2000.

Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo created a consultative commission that recommended a unicameral parliamentary form of government, decentralization of the national government and more powers to local government units.

A people’s initiative called Sigaw ng Bayan was also launched during Arroyo’s administration, but this was rejected by the Supreme Court in October 2006, citing its failure to comply with the basic requirement that the “initiative must be directly proposed by the people.” The court said the proponents did not show the people the full text of the proposed amendments before asking them to sign the “signature sheet.”

Two months later, then Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr. began moves to convene the House of Representatives into a Con-ass. It was met with protests that prompted Arroyo to knock it down.

In November 2008, then Sen. Aquilino Pimentel Jr. drafted Senate Resolution No. 10, convening Congress into a Con-ass to establish a federal system of government. Though backed by 16 senators, it never took off.

In 2009, the crux of the debate on Charter change through Con-ass was whether the two chambers of Congress should vote jointly or separately on proposed constitutional amendments.

House Resolution No. 1109, which was passed that year, calling for the convening of a Con-ass as a joint session of the House and the Senate. This would mean that House members, by their sheer number, could carry out any proposed amendments.

Senators rejected the resolution, insisting that the voting on any issue or amendment must be done separately.

In September 2011, then President Benigno Aquino III rejected an effort by then Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. to amend economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution.

In July last year, Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo Benitez filed a resolution calling on the House and the Senate to sit as a Con-ass to introduce amendments to the 1987 Constitution that would allow the Philippines to become a federation of states. —COMPILED BY ANA ROA, INQUIRER RESEARCH

 

Source: Inquirer.net

Zubiri not giving up on Negros region

Thu, 08/10/2017 - 22:30




Published August 10, 2017, 10:01 PM
By Vanne Elaine P. Terrazola and Tara Yap

Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri said he will push for the re-establishment of the Negros Island Region (NIR) which President Duterte had ordered abolished.

“I am saddened by the latest development concerning the Negros Island Region, however I respect President Duterte’s decision for its abolition,” Zubiri said in a statement.

The Negrense lawmaker supported the integration of Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental into a single region in 2015.

Negros Occidental was part of Western Visayas and Negros Oriental of Central Visayas.

Zubiri filed a Senate resolution pushing for its recognition and even appealed to the President last year to retain the new region.

“Let me reassure you that we will not stop looking for reasons to have the NIR re-established,” Zubiri said.

He assured that development programs for the two Negros provinces will be funded.

Duterte on Monday signed Executive Order 38 which dissolved the NIR, citing problems in funding and appropriation.

Negros Occidental Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. assured that “Even with the revocation (of the NIR), we will continue to champion development efforts that will benefit our communities.”

Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo added the two provinces will remain close.

“Though short-lived, the NIR had accomplished much. The achievements made by national government agencies are beyond compare. They served NIR very well,” Marañon said.

Not all government agencies were able to set up a regional office in Negros. Some were still in Iloilo City, the political hub of Western Visayas, while others were in Cebu City, the political and commercial center of Central Visayas.

The creation in 2015 of NIR was seen largely as a political move. Mar Roxas, the defeated presidential candidate of the Liberal Party, pushed for the new region when he was secretary of Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).

Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia called on Negrense “congressmen to pursue and hasten the legislative process to put this issue back on the debating table.”

Negros Occidental 3rd District Rep. Alfredo Benitez said they will work to minimize the impact of the dissolution of the NIR on the island. (With a report from Carla N. Canet)

Source: Manila Bulletin

‘One Negros’ dream ends

Thu, 08/10/2017 - 16:45



Philippine Daily Inquirer / 07:14 AM August 10, 2017
By Leila B. Salaverria, With reports from Carla P. Gomez and Nestor P. Burgos Jr.

After two years, the One-Negros region is no more.

President Rodrigo Duterte has dissolved the Negros Island Region (NIR) because of funding issues, revoking an order by his predecessor that united the provinces of Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental.

He issued Executive Order No. 38 on Aug. 7, which reverts Negros Occidental to Western Visayas (Region 6) and Negros Oriental to Central Visayas (Region 7).

“The establishment of regional offices of departments and agencies in the NIR requires substantial appropriation to be fully operational, thus competing with government priority programs and projects for funding,” the order stated.

Earlier, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said the NIR would cost the government P19 billion.

With the dissolution of the NIR, regional offices will be abolished and existing personnel will return to their previous units or reassigned to other offices, according to the EO 38.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government was tasked with supervising the reversion of Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental to their respective regions.

The NIR setup was stated under EO 183 issued in 2015 by then President Benigno Aquino III, who said that the creation of one administrative region would boost the economic and social development of the two provinces.

Reached for comment on Wednesday, Governors Alfredo Marañon Jr. of Negros Occidental and Roel Degamo of Negros Oriental vowed to continue working together on joint projects for the good of their provinces.

Marañon said the NIR accomplished a lot in its two-year operation. Despite resource limitation, it was able to build new roads and class rooms, guarded the natural environment, and kept the people safe, he said.

Degamo, for his part, said he had no regrets. “Negros Oriental will remain friends with Negros Occidental. We will continue the joint projects that we started for the good of Negros Island,” he said.

It’s a sad day for Negros,” said Rep. Alfredo Abelardo Benitez of Negros Occidental. “But we, in Congress, will work on having minimal effect to the island.” —With reports from Carla P. Gomez and Nestor P. Burgos Jr.

Source: Inquirer.net

Officials dismayed by abolition of Negros Island Region

Thu, 08/10/2017 - 15:30




Thursday, August 10, 2017
By MARCHEL P. ESPINA, MERLINDA A. PEDROSA

NEGRENSES expressed dismay over President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to sign Executive Order (EO) 38, abolishing Negros Island Region (NIR).

Former Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II, who spearheaded the efforts to create the region, said the development of Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental will be “slower” not being under one region.

In his social media accounts, Roxas said: “Nanugunan gid ako nga waay madayon ang Negros Island Region. Madamo ang magabenepisyo kung ginpadayon ini. Sayang. (I’m sad Negros Island Region did not continue. Many would have benefited if it pushed through. What a waste).”

Negrenses will be traveling farther and spending more for services, added Roxas, who has roots in Negros Occidental as his mother Judy Araneta-Roxas is from Bago City.

On May 29, 2015, Duterte’s predecessor, former president Benigno Aquino III, signed the Executive Order 183 creating NIR, which separated Negros Occidental from Western Visayas and Negros Oriental from Central Visayas, to accelerate social and economic development and improve the delivery of public services.

Interior Undersecretary Jesus Hinlo Jr., in a statement, said as a Negrense, he is saddened by the decision of the President.

However, he appealed to his fellow Negrenses to respect the decision.

“Although we failed to convince the President to retain the NIR, we have to understand that the administration has priority programs and projects that need funds that compete with the operational existence of the NIR,” Hinlo said.

However, Hinlo remained optimistic that the two Negros provinces will continue to prosper with shared tourism, businesses, and trade opportunities.

On Monday, August 7, Duterte signed EO 38, revoking the creation of NIR due to lack of funds.

“The establishment of regional offices of departments and agencies in the NIR requires substantial appropriation to be fully operational, thus competing with government priority programs and projects for funding,” the EO said.

With the dissolution, the provinces of Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental will now revert to Western Visayas and Negros Oriental to Central Visayas, respectively.

It also abolished the regional offices in NIR, with their personnel ordered to return to their previous units or reassigned to other offices in their respective departments or agencies.

“The winding up of the operations of the NIR regional offices, as well as the final disposition of their functions, positions, personnel, assets and liabilities shall be done immediately and completed not later than 60 days from the effectivity of this order,” the EO said.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government is also directed to supervise the reversion of the two provinces to its previous regions.
Continued collaboration

Negros Occidental Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. said he is slightly disappointed and dismayed, but had to accept and respect the decision of the President.

The governor said the province will continue to work and collaborate with Negros Oriental headed by Governor Roel Degamo.

Vice Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson echoed the sentiment of the governor, as he proposed to create a special body to continue the cooperation between the two provinces.

“NIR is not priority for this administration as can be understood in EO 38,” he said. “If we step back, we may lose whatever cooperation through NIR’s Regional Development Council has gained.”

Third District Representative Alfredo Benitez said it is a “sad day for Negros.”

However, Benitez assured his fellow Negrenses that the lawmakers will try to ensure it will not have a negative consequence to Negros.

“We, in Congress, will work hard (so it will have) minimal effect to the island,” the solon said.

Sixth District Representative Mercedes Alvarez said the “delivery of services of agencies in NIR became more efficient, and through it we were able to strengthen our linkages with all stakeholders.”

However, with this development under EO 38, revoking NIR, “We place our trust in the wisdom of the President even as we look for ways to improve the delivery of basic services to our people.”

“We must make the most of what has been achieved to date, and as we transition, I express my deep gratitude to the men and women of the different regional offices of the NIR,” Alvarez said.

Capitol consultant and former governor Rafael Coscolluela, member of NIR-Technical Working Group, said he is “sad and disappointed, but challenged.”

“We just need to keep working together as one island, with or without national government support,” he said.

“For the meantime, we can explore creating a Negros Development Alliance to keep our initiatives going,” Coscolluela added.

Second District Board Member Salvador Escalante Jr. said the abolition of NIR only shows that the region is not a priority.

“This does not mean the end of NIR. For me, this is a challenge. Probably we have not yet given enough reasons for the President to consider NIR,” he said.

Still hopeful

For his part, Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia urged the Negrenses to respect the decision of the President.

However, the mayor remained hopeful that the Negrenses can still appeal the decision.

“With solid and valid justifications, maybe this NIR proposition can still be given a second look by the executive branch,” the mayor said.

“Meanwhile, let us hope that our congressmen in the NIR territory will pursue and hasten the legislative process to put this issue back into the debating table,” he added.

Vice Mayor El Cid Familiaran said the budget requirements of NIR is about P19 billion.

Maybe the passage of free tertiary education in the country’s state colleges and universities outweigh the retention of the region, he added.

Councilor Caesar Distrito said: “We lost an opportunity to be known as one separate and distinct region. We will go back to letting our people travel to Iloilo again as the regional center of Region 6 (Western Visayas).”

Councilor Renecito Novero said that “unless it is reconsidered, we might as well respect it and promptly prepare for readjustments back to our former regional set up.

“Life must go on vibrantly, with or without NIR,” he said.

Councilor Wilson Gamboa Jr. said: “We should not be deterred in pushing for a Negros Federal State considering that the priority of the Duterte government is to change the form of government to federal.”

“We will just simply, in other words, change our support and trust in pushing for a federal form of government and a separate federal state for Negros Island. The fight continues and nothing is lost yet,” he said.

NIR bill

Abang Lingkod partylist Representative Stephen Paduano said he feels hopeless with the bill establishing NIR, which he filed last year.

House Bill 4532 or “An act establishing the Negros Island to be known as Region 18" is pending before the House committee on local government.

Paduano assured his fellow Negrenses that they will do their best to work out appropriations for the projects and programs of the two Negros provinces.

Since its creation, the two-year old region had been operating with zero budget, with the funds being sourced from the previous regions of its two provinces. (With reports from Teresa D. Ellera)

Source: Sunstar Bacolod

Negrenses saddened over dissolution of Negros Island Region

Thu, 08/10/2017 - 15:19



Published August 10, 2017 5:46am
By ERWIN P. NICAVERA

Negrense officials and leaders were saddened by the executive order (EO) issued by President Rodrigo Duterte dissolving Negros Island Region (NIR), more than two years after it was created by the previous administration.

Negros Occidental Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. said he is slightly dismayed and disappointed on the action made by the president abolishing the youngest region.

He said they have to accept and respect the decision.

“We will still continue to work and collaborate with neighboring province - Negros Oriental,” he added.

On Monday, August 7, Duterte signed EO No. 38, revoking the creation of NIR citing lack of funds.

The order stated that the establishment of regional offices of departments and agencies in the NIR requires substantial appropriation to be fully operational, thus competing with government priority programs and projects for funding.

Through the order, the provinces of Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental will now revert to Western Visayas (Region 6) and Negros Oriental to Central Visayas (Region 7), respectively.

Negros Occidental Vice Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson said the “NIR is not priority for this administration as can be understood in the order.”

Lacson proposed to create a special body to continue the cooperation with Negros Oriental.

Negros Occidental 3rd District Representative Alfredo Benitez said it is a “sad day for Negros.”

Despite the dissolution, the legislator assured Negrenses that they will try to ensure it won’t have a negative consequence to the province.

The members of the business sector said they respect the decision of the president.

The Metro Bacolod Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MBCCI) and Negros Oriental Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NOCCI), in a joint statement, said national leaders know better, and that they have a broader macro perspective on what is good for the country.

The groups suggested to develop Negros Island as a special area for development amid the abolition. “It shall be directed and managed by the Negros Island Development Council.”

On May 29, 2015, Duterte’s predecessor, former president Benigno Aquino III, signed the EO 138 creating NIR.

During the 2016 elections, Marañon and Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo supported the presidential bid of Duterte’s opponent, former Interior secretary Manuel Roxas II, who also pushed for the creation of the one-island region. 

After the elections, the two top officials of Negros joined the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban). — BAP, GMA News

Source: GMA News Online

UNegA gears up for 2019 elections

Thu, 08/10/2017 - 13:22



on Thursday, August 10, 2017
BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN


The United Negros Alliance (UNegA) is also gearing up for the 2019 elections, and its members are scheduled to have meeting this month.

Senior Board Member Salvador Escalante Jr said yesterday that UNegA may also field candidates for the gubernatorial and vice gubernatorial positions, as Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. is now on his last term.

We are not running out of candidates, Escalante, who is also on his last term as board member, said.

Board Member David Albert Lacson, also a member of UNegA, had said earlier that former Rep. Jeffrey Ferrer may run for governor in the 2019 elections.

Anything is possible. We have so many potential leaders, Escalante, who is the UNegA secretary general, said.

Vice-Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson said his own option to run for governor remains, although the five mayors of the 3rd congressional district are pushing Benitez to run for governor of Negros Occidental.

Lacson defeated Ferrer for the vice-gubernatorial position during the 2016 elections.

Members of the Love-Negros, including Lacson, recently met with Rep. Alfredo Benitez.

Lacson said that Benitez is more likely to run for senator.

During the gathering of UNegA members, Escalante said they may also discuss issues such as the abolition of NIR, barangay and 2019 elections.

Earlier, Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr., who heads the UNegA, said he would support Benitez in his bid, either for the senate, or for the governorship in 2019.

But Marañon did not say whom he would support for governor if Benitez opts to run for senator.

Should Lacson run for governor, there is talk that his likely running mate will be Rep. Mercedes Alvarez, who is on her third and last term as congresswoman of the 6th district of Negros Occidental.

The name of Escalante is also being floated for the vice gubernatorial position.* GPB

Source: The Visayan Daily Star

Benitez, Lacson meet, discuss 2019 poll plans

Wed, 08/09/2017 - 20:11



on Wed, 08/09/2017
By Carla P. Gomez

It looks like Rep. Alfredo Abelardo Benitez (Neg. Occ., 3 rd District) is more likely to run for senator, paving the way for fellow Love Negros member, Vice Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson, to go for the governorship in the 2019 polls.

Lacson confirmed yesterday that he and Benitez met over breakfast Friday.“There was an agreement but I cannot divulge any details,” he said.

“Probably right now I can say that the vision (of Benitez) to become a senator is still there,” Lacson said.

Meanwhile, Lacsonsaid his own option to run for governor remains.

Everything will be known in October 2018, he said, when candidates for the 2019 polls file their certificates of candidacy.

Earlier, Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr., who heads the United Negros Alliance, said he would support Benitez in his bid either for the senate or for the governorship in 2019.

Marañon, who is on his third and last term as governor, did not say whom he would support for governor if Benitez opts to run for senator.

Should Lacson run for governor, there is talk that his likely running mate could be Rep. Mercedes Alvarez, who is on her third and last term as congresswoman of the 6th district of Negros Occidental.

Marañon'srunningmate in the 2016 polls, former Rep. Jeffrey Ferrer (Neg. Occ., 4 th District), has not ruled out running for governor in 2019.*CPG

Source: The Visayan Daily Star

Negrenses upset over Duterte's order dissolving Negros region

Wed, 08/09/2017 - 15:21



Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Duterte signed Executive Order 38 on August 7, revoking EO 183 that created the NIR on May 29, 2015.

Negros Oriental will revert to Central Visayas (Region 7) and Negros Occidental to Western Visayas (Region 6).

Negros Occidental Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr., who launched #Save NIR Movement together with Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo last year, said he was dismayed, but has to accept and respect the decision of President Duterte.

He said Negros Occidental will continue to work and collaborate with Negros Oriental.

"It is a sad day for Negros," said Negros Occidental third district Representative Alfredo Benitez.

“We, in Congress, will work on (making sure this will have) minimal effect to the island,” he said.

Negros Occidental Vice Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson proposed to create a special body to continue the cooperation with Negros Oriental.

“NIR is not priority for this administration as can be understood in EO No. 38,” he said. “If we step back, we may lose whatever cooperation that NIR’s Regional Development Council has gained.”

Capitol consultant and former governor Rafael Coscolluela, a member of NIR-Technical Working Group, said he was “sad and disappointed, but challenged.”

“We just need to keep working together as one island, with or without National Government support,” he said.

“For the meantime, we can explore creating a Negros Development Alliance to keep our initiatives going,” he added.

Abang Lingkod partylist Representative Stephen Paduano, who filed House Bill 4532 titled “An Act establishing the Negros Island to be known as Region 18,” said all Negrense lawmakers "will do our best to work out appropriations so that the projects and programs of the two Negros provinces will not be affected by the reversion of Negros Occidental to Region 6 and Negros Oriental to Region 7.”

The EO 38 also abolished the regional offices and regional councils under NIR. All personnel will either return to their previous units or be reassigned to other offices and all assets disposed of over the next 60 days.

The order revoked EO 183, which was signed by former President Benigno Aquino III on May 29, 2015 to establish the NIR composed of Negros Oriental and Occidental provinces.

The new EO noted that the government lacks the funds to finance the operations of government offices created for NIR.

The directive stated that the establishment of regional offices of departments and agencies "requires substantial appropriation to be fully operational, thus competing with government priority programs and projects for funding."

Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said last year that the NIR would cost the government at least P19 billion. He described the creation of the region as an “expensive exercise.”

Diokno also said funds for the NIR have not been included in the 2016 and 2017 national budgets.

He assured then that its abolition would not affect the delivery of basic services in the two Negros provinces.

“The services will be provided by existing regions before the creation of NIR. We go back to the status quo,” Diokno said then.

Under EO 38, the Department of Interior and Local Government will supervise the reversion of Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental to their previous regional groupings as well as the abolition of the NIR regional offices and councils. (SunStar Philippines and SunStar Bacolod/With PNA)

***

Source: Sunstar Bacolod

Vice Gov. Lacson Hints on 2019 Poll Scenario

Tue, 08/08/2017 - 06:30



on Thu, 08/08/2017 By Arman P. Toga

Negros Occidental Vice Governor Eugenio Jose “Bong” Lacson yesterday hinted on the more likely political scenario in the province in 2019.

Lacson, acknowledged as the “strongest successor” for governor in 2019, said Friday’s meeting between him and 3rd District Congressman Alfredo Abelardo “Albee” Benitez, along with other Love Negros (LN) officials, was a positive one.

Benitez is being pushed by Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. to run for governor in 2019.

In a live interview over RMN DYHB with anchormen Jeony Bigay and Serge Santillan yesterday, Lacson described the August 4, 2017 meeting as “very nice, very positive,” and that he was happy about it as there was understanding between him, Benitez and LN officials.

“Nothing was changed in what was planned before,” he said.

VG Lacson hinted that Negrenses’ hope to have a senator to represent them “is very much alive”.

The Vice Governor also said, he did not receive any negative feedback to his “expression of interest” to run for governor in 2019.

“I cannot categorically reveal what were talked about for 2019, but most likely there will be alliances. Nothing is definite yet but perhaps we can reveal everything in the last quarter of this year,” he also said.

The Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) and LN partyman, said among those present during Friday’s meeting with Cong. Benitez were 1st District Cong. Melecio Yap and former 1st District Cong. Jules Ledesma’s representative Marton Cui.

Meanwhile, there are reports that former 5th District Cong. Jeffrey Ferrer who lost in the recent election to Lacson for vice governor, might run either for governor or vice governor in 2019.

Reports are also milling in the province that Cong. Benitez will not run for governor even if incumbent Gov. Marañon pledged support for him if he will.* (Arman P. Toga)

Barangay polls eyed next year

Tue, 08/08/2017 - 06:26




Tuesday, August 08, 2017
MARCHEL P. ESPINA

MEMBERS of the House of Representatives are pushing to move the barangay elections next year.

Lawmakers from Negros Occidental confirmed that during their caucus Monday, majority of the congressmen have agreed to postpone the village and youth polls, both slated this coming October, to May 2018.

Third District Representative Alfredo Benitez said the proposed new election schedule will coincide with the referendum of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law.

He also said there will be a holdover capacity for the incumbent barangay officials until the elections next year.

After the caucus, the House will tackle the bill filed by Surigao del Norte Representative Robert Ace Barbers postponing the barangay elections and will deliberate on the amendments, said Abang-Lingkod party-list Representative Stephen Paduano.

Barbers also proposed that the barangay officials will be appointed.
“I’m sure Congress will hasten the deliberation and pass the postponement because it is the consensus,” Paduano said.

First District Melecio Yap Jr. said the proposed law, once passed in the House, will then be transmitted to the plenary for the bicameral conference committee.

It will be done as soon as possible, he added.

Meanwhile, Councilor Noli Villarosa, president of Liga ng mga Barangay in Bacolod City, said the Senate will also hold a hearing on Wednesday about the postponement of the village elections.

Villarosa, a member of the Liga National Executive Board, said the Senate will deliberate on the House Bill 1469, postponing the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections to October 2018, authored by Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III.

Sotto filed the bill on May 23 to postpone the said elections from the fourth Monday of October this year to the fourth Monday of October next year in an answer to the appeal of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Duterte had alleged that 40 percent of the barangay captains in the country are involved in illegal drugs.

Under the proposal, the term of office of incumbent barangay and SK officials shall be extended.

However, Villarosa said there are also proposals that only the punong barangays will stay in their respective seats and that they will appoint the new set of council members.

“The National Liga will push for the extension of terms or holdover not only of the punong barangays, but all barangay officials,” Villarosa said.

House for 2018 brgy polls

Tue, 08/08/2017 - 06:21




Tuesday, August 8, 2017
BY CARLA GOMEZ

Majority of the members of the House of Representatives agreed in a caucus yesterday afternoon to postpone the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections set in October this year to May 2018, two Negros solons said.

They also agreed that the incumbent barangay officials elected in October 2013 will be retained in a holdover capacity, Rep. Alfredo Abelardo Benitez (Neg. Occ., 3 rd District) and Rep. Stephen Paduano (Abang Lingkod Partylist) said.

The SK and barangay elections next year will be synchronized with the plebiscite for Charter change and the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law, Majority Floor Leader Rodolfo Fariñas said.

More than 200 congressmen attended the caucus to decide on the barangay elections, Paduano said.

However, the Senate has yet to decide on the postponement of the barangay elections, Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri said yesterday.

The Lower House bill postponing the barangay and SK polls will have to be reconciled with the Senate's before the final version is submitted to President Rodrigo Duterte who could sign it into law or veto it, Zubiri said.

Gov. Alfredo Marañon and the majority of local officials in Negros Occidental favor the postponement of the barangay elections and the retention of the incumbent officials in a holdover capacity.

Negros Occidental Comelec Supervisor Jessie Suarez said they will continue preparing for the barangay elections until they get a final order from their head office to halt their activities.*CPG


ANOTHER EXTENSION: House agrees to postpone brgy elections to next year

Mon, 08/07/2017 - 15:16



CEBU DAILY NEWS
August 7th, 2017
By: Carla P. Gomez, Inquirer, Jose Santino S. Bunachita

Village officials may have to stay in their seats a little longer.

The members of the House of Representatives agreed to postpone the barangay elections for another seven months to May 2018.

Majority Floor Leader Rodolfo Fariñas said lawmakers reached a consensus during a Monday afternoon caucus to synchronize the barangay elections with the plebiscite for Charter change and the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law.

If the measures would not be ready by May, he added, the elections for the country’s smallest political units might be pushed back again.

Representatives Alfredo Abelardo Benitez of Negros Occidental and Stephen Panuano of Abang Lingkod Party-list said the more than 200 congressmen who attended the caucus agreed that the incumbent village officials be retained in a hold-over capacity.

The decision of the House must be concurred by the Senate before it would become final although no strong opposition on the proposal was expected from the Upper Chamber.

When reached for comment, Councilor Philip Zafra, president of Association of Barangay Councils (ABC) in Cebu City, said the decision of the House must be viewed as a challenge for all barangay officials in the city.

“I can’t say that we will benefit from this. Instead, this is another challenge for us to work more, to do more and to make sure that their mandate that has been extended by law will not be put to waste,” he said.

Zafra said that he would leave it up to the congressmen and the senators to decide on the issue.

The barangay officials were elected in October 2013, but they had remained in their positions after the October 2016 elections were postponed to October 2017.

The Commission on Elections recently issued statements urging Congress to decide soon if the elections should be postponed to avoid wasting efforts in preparing for the October 2017 polls.

President Duterte first issued the call for Congress to postpone the elections again. At the time, he cited the alleged influence of drug money as a reason.

Rep. Sherwin Tugna, who chairs the suffrage and electoral reforms committee, said the House continues to keep the President’s justification in mind, and the postponement was precisely meant to prevent more narco-politicians from controlling the barangays.

“We are still citing it. … One of the the purposes of postponement is to prevent narco-politicians (from) using their money to support the election of those non-incumbent who are involved in drugs and the reelection of those who are involved in drugs,” said Tugna, representative of the party-list group, Citizens’ Battle Against Corruption (Cibac).

But the congressmen turned down the proposal of President Duterte to just appoint the barangay officials.

Fariñas said House members agreed to retain the incumbent village officials in a holdover capacity instead of an earlier proposal by dangerous drugs committee chair Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers to empower President Rodrigo Duterte to appoint officers in charge.

Tugna said the House would be hitting two birds with one stone in moving to postpone the barangay polls to next year.

“That way, we will be hitting two birds with one stone. Meaning, through BBL, we can help achieve peace in Mindanao, and by having the plebiscite of the BBL during May 2017 barangay elections, we will save public money,” Tugna said.

Anakpawis Party-list Rep. Ariel Casilao of the militant Makabayan bloc, however, told reporters that his group wants to push through with the scheduled elections in October “in accordance to a democratic exercise of our people.”

Rep. Rodrigo Abellanosa of Cebu City South District was also opposed to the postponement.

“Postponing it (barangay elections) again only promotes a feeble-minded image of Congress, delays the people’s clamor for change of leadership in the grassroots, and disenfranchises the youth from being represented in governance,” he said in a text message.

Abellanosa described the decision of the “super majority” to postpone the elections as “overwhelming.”

Zafra agreed on the decision to retain the current barangay officials in a hold-over capacity.

He said the earlier proposal to just appoint barangay officials would have problems since the Constitution dictates that positions in the barangays should be elected and not appointed.
But Zafra said it would not matter to them whether the elections pushed through or not.

“We are ready with the elections whether this year, next year or any year. We are ready to run and seek reelection,” he said.

Source: Inquirer.net

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