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By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Garin family in southern Iloilo will go all out for House Majority Floor Leader Arthur D. Defensor in his gubernatorial bid in the 2010 elections.

This was the assurance of former congressman and Philippine Coconut Authority chief Oscar Garin amidst reports that he struck a deal with the Tupas camp.

The patriarch of the Garin clan said they will do everything they can to help Defensor win the gubernatorial race in the 1st congressional district.

Garin, whose son Board Member Richard Garin is Defensor’s running mate, said reports that he made a deal with the Tupases is a “divide-and-rule” tactic.

Reports said that Garin and the Tupases have agreed to support Barotac Viejo Mayor Raul Tupas for governor and BM Garin for vice governor, thereby leaving Defensor in the cold.

The reports said the Garins will campaign for Tupas in the 1st district while the Tupases will carry BM Garin in the 5ht district.

The Tupases reportedly agreed not to field any candidate against the Garin group as part of the deal.

One sign of the deal is the candidacy of former Miag-ao mayor and PNP general Gerardo Flores for the provincial board instead of running against incumbent 1st district Rep. Jeanette Garin.

The Garins will also support Flores’ candidacy as part of the deal.

Garin said his reported deal with the Tupases is only meant to stir and break their alliance with Defensor.

“Whoever concocted these information maybe wants Arthur (Defensor) to react and vent his ire on us. But we all know that he is an astute and broad-minded politician. This is just plain intrigue,” Garin said in separate interviews with Bombo Radyo and Aksyon Radyo.

Garin said the Tupases will have a hard time looking for candidates who will oppose their slate in the first district.

He cited the case of Oton where Mayor Vincent Flores who has settled his dispute with Vice Mayor Jose Neil Olivarez.

“If Mayor Flores has no opponent, it’s not because of any godfather or deal. It is because he reconciled with his potential rival,” Garin said.

Garin said they will support the candidacy of former Oton mayor Carina Flores for the Iloilo provincial board.

Garin said he will not be compelled to dance to other people’s tune.

“They want other people to fight their own war by sowing these stories. We will do everything to help Art Defensor in the 1st district,” he said.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

HOUSE Majority Floor Leader Arthur D. Defensor Sr. told his detractors to stick to the real issues hounding the Iloilo provincial government instead of sowing intrigues and black propaganda.

This was Defensor’s reaction to those who question his health and his alliance with the Garin clan of the 1st congressional district.

Rumors apparently spread by the camp of Gov. Niel Tupas Sr. claimed that the Tupases struck an agreement with the Garins to support the candidacy of Barotac Viejo Mayor Raul Tupas for governor.

Defensor said the story is plain black propaganda as his alliance with his vice gubernatorial bet, Board Member Richard Garin is still intact and continues to grow strong.

“This early the other camp is spreading intrigues because they saw the strength and unity of our group. Our group’s campaign is getting stronger by the day,” Defensor said.

Defensor said those who spread the rumor are getting desperate “and they are looking for ways to put a wedge between me and the Garins.”

He added that the Garins are not double talkers who renege on their political commitments.

“Unlike the others, the Garins don’t double cross or dupe anybody. They are very candid and sincere in their politics which they conducted with honor,” Defensor said.

Aside from the Garins, Defensor said 33 out of the 43 mayors in Iloilo province are supporting his comeback to the provincial capitol.

As regards his age and health, Defensor said he is still in the pink of health.

“I am very healthy for the upcoming campaign. And I am not that old enough. Those are not the main issues as I am alive and kicking,” Defensor said.

The House majority leader said the main issue that must be addressed is change and reform in the capitol.

“What should be answered is: Is there a need for new leadership at the capitol to usher in changes and reform? If we want change, then we must give others the chance to upgrade and change the image of the capitol.”

Defensor is running on the platform of instituting change and reform at the capitol which has been mired with issues of graft and corruption under Tupas rule.

Defensor said he wants to restore honor and decency in the provincial government aside from providing efficient delivery of social services.    

Defensor, BM Garin and their entire slate for the provincial board will file their certificates of candidacy with the Commission on Elections today.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

ILOILO Vice Gov. Rolex T. Suplico slammed his uncle Gov. Niel Tupas Sr. for accusing the former of delaying the release of the allowance of volunteer health workers (VHWs) in the province.

Suplico said Tupas made the accusation when he addressed the Barangay Service Point Officers (BSPO) Day at the Capitol grounds Thursday.

The allowances for VHWs are embodied in the P180-million Supplemental Budget No. 1 requested by Gov. Tupas in October.

The supplemental budget includes the honorarium of day care workers amounting to P3.314 million, BSPOs P4.25 million, barangay health workers P14.756 million; and barangay nutrition scholars P1.692 million.

The supplemental budget is still pending with the committee on appropriations chaired Board Member JR Salcedo.

Suplico said he gave up the appropriations committee because of his heavy workload and political plans.

“I can join the discussion but I cannot vote on any measure because I am not with the committee anymore. I can only vote during the plenary discussion of any appropriations when there is a tie,” he said.  

Suplico said the governor is barking up the wrong tree.

“That’s a lie. I am not a member of the committee on appropriations anymore. And we have been releasing these particular allowances in the last two years,” he added.

Suplico said Tupas is the one guilty of violating the ordinance pertaining to the release of the VHWs’ allowances.

“Gov. Tupas violated the ordinances which directed him to send the allowances to the municipal treasurers who will release the money to VHWs in their respective towns. This was meant to spare the workers of added expenses and effort to go to Iloilo City and claim their allowances from the Capitol,” the vice governor said.

Suplico said Tupas has politicized the release of the allowances by requiring the workers to attend political rallies at the Capitol and Barotac Viejo where his family and allies spoke.

He said the volunteer workers ended up spending part of their allowances on their fares and food in going to the city.

“I call upon to Gov. Tupas to be truthful. It’s bad to lie. The allowances are not your family’s personal funds, but public funds. Don’t fry the volunteer workers in their own lard,” Suplico said.

SP probes Tupas’s ‘misuse’ of Capitol’s heavy equipment

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Iloilo will investigate the alleged misuse of government heavy equipments in the construction of Gov. Niel Tupas Sr.’s house in the town of Banate.

Board Member Richard Garin triggered the investigation when he presented a copy of the video showing province-owned dump trucks and bulldozer and grader owned by the Banate municipal government working in Tupas’ house at Brgy. Juanico, Banate.

Garin said the video, which has been labeled “Iloilo Capitol Video Scandal,” has been spreading in the Internet via YouTube, a video hosting site.

Copies of the video can be viewed in http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZnShzHtGqsU and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_R_gwWu3iMg.

Photos and videos of the heavy equipment were also posted in two blogs: http://krusadakontrakurakot.wordpress.com and http://kontramakawat.blogspot.com.

Garin said the investigation should clarify why the dump trucks and other heavy equipments are working in Tupas’ house.

The committee on infrastructure chaired by Board Member June Mondejar was initially tasked to lead the investigation along with the committees on good government.

But Capitol sources said Mondejar, a known Tupas ally in the provincial board, refused to handle the issue.

Vice Governor Rolex Suplico said the committee of the whole, which he also chairs, will investigate the issue to involve all provincial board members.

Suplico said they will invite officials of the Provincial Engineer’s Office (PEO), the provincial motor pool and Banate municipal government to explain their side on the issue.

Truck driver Ken Jun Enojas Jr. said he and Domingo Ferrolin were ordered by Engr. Francisco Boy Nobleza, chief of the PEO’s motor pool, to work on a barangay road in Banate.

But Nobleza said he has no authority to deploy trucks, particularly Trucks No. 5 and 11 which are under the jurisdiction of the PEO’s 5th district office in Barotac Viejo under Engr. Ananias Lago.

Banate belongs to the 4th congressional district where Tupas will run for congressman.

The Office of the Ombudsman will also look into the issue saying it will examine the pictures and videos spreading in the Internet.

‘CRUSADING ART’  Iloilo 3rd District Rep. Arthur “Art” Defensor Sr. (center) announces his plan to regain the governor’s office in the 2010 elections during a press conference in Iloilo City Thursday. Behind him are his supporters (from left to right) including his son, Board Member Arthur Defensor Jr., 4th district Rep. Ferj Biron, running mate Board Member Oscar “Richard” Garin Jr., 1st district Rep. Janet Garin, former congressman Licurgo Tirador and Vice Gov. Rolex Suplico. Thirty-two of the 43 municipal mayors support the Defensor-Garin tandem. (Photo by Tara Yap)

‘CRUSADING ART’ Iloilo 3rd District Rep. Arthur “Art” Defensor Sr. (center) announces his plan to regain the governor’s office in the 2010 elections during a press conference in Iloilo City Thursday. Behind him are his supporters (from left to right) including his son, Board Member Arthur Defensor Jr., 4th district Rep. Ferj Biron, running mate Board Member Oscar “Richard” Garin Jr., 1st district Rep. Janet Garin, former congressman Licurgo Tirador and Vice Gov. Rolex Suplico. Thirty-two of the 43 municipal mayors support the Defensor-Garin tandem. (Photo by Tara Yap)

Defensor-Garin tandem vows reforms at provincial gov’t

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

HOUSE Majority Floor Leader Arthur Defensor Sr. wants to restore decency at the Iloilo provincial government and the people’s trust and confidence in government, reason why he wants to return to the capitol.

Defensor proffered this motivation when he formally declared his candidacy for governor in the May 2010 elections at Hotel Del Rio Thursday morning before a big group of local political leaders.

Defensor also introduced his running mate, Board Member Richard Garin, but cut short of their lineup for the provincial board.

Defensor said he is on a “crusade for reform and restoration of the people’s faith and trust in government”.

He said he had no plans to return to the provincial capitol “as I felt I have served the people well with honor and dignity.”

But Defensor said there is a need to “put an end to continuity” and restore honor and dignity in the provincial government.

Apparently, Defensor was making swipes at the present administration of Gov. Niel Tupas Sr. which has been beset by issues of graft and corruption.

Defensor said he is confident to win the 2010 elections with the support of at least 32 mayors, provincial board members and other political behemoths in the province.

He also basked in his alliance with Garin whom he described as an able ally at the Capitol.

“I fell honored and privileged to have Board Member Richard Garin as my vice governor,” Defensor said.

In response, Garin described Defensor’s nine-year stint as governor as “a time of peace, dedicated and fruitful work, recognizance (sic) of responsibilities and honest transactions and liquidations.”

PROGRAMS OF GOVERNMENT

Defensor said his programs will focus on developing additional sources of power, water and environmental protection.

Defensor will also conduct a reevaluation of the province’s health programs and hospitals.   

“We will also craft a comprehensive development plan to keep up with the changing times in our province,” he added.

Garin said one of his thrusts is on agriculture, particularly the establishment of an animal and plant laboratory.

Garin said he is concerned with the lack of facilities that will help Iloilo farmers diagnose animal and plant diseases.

SHOW OF FORCE

The declaration also served as a show of force, a coalition of major political sectors in Iloilo.

Aside from the Garins, who rule the 1st congressional district, Rep. Ferjenel Biron, Vice Gov. Rolex Suplico and former congressman Licurgo Tirador lent support to the Defensor-Garin tandem.

A total of 33 Iloilo mayors have committed to support Defensor’s candidacy even if his chief opponent, Barotac Viejo Mayor Raul Tupas, is the incumbent president of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines in Iloilo.

Reportedly, the Syjuco couple – TESDA Director General Augusto and incumbent Rep. Judy – will support the Defensor-Garin tandem despite their falling out with Philippine Coconut Authority Administrator Oscar Garin.

Oscar Garin ran for governor in 2001 against Gov. Tupas but lost.

The Garins attributed the defeat to Augusto Syjuco’s sudden change of heart and turned his support to Tupas.

Another “surprise supporter” in the Defensor-Garin tandem is Board Member Rodolfo “Boy” Cabado who has been identified with the Tupas group.

Cabado said there is nothing shocking in his decision to support Defensor as their friendship goes a long way back when they belonged to the same law office before.

Cabado said Defensor has always been his ally throughout his political career.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Department of Health (DoH) regional office is prepared to bid out the P38.5-million hospital equipment upgrading project for 2009 should Gov. Niel Tupas Sr. fail to secure authorization to undertake the transaction.

Dr. Ariel Valencia, DoH-6 regional director, said they can conduct the bidding process if the agency and the provincial government fail to perfect the memorandum of agreement on the 2009 Facilities Enhancement Program (HFEP).

Valencia said they are awaiting formal communication from the provincial government regarding the authorization sought by Tupas from the Sangguniang Panlalawigan to allow him to enter into a MOA with the DoH.

“We have no official word yet from the Capitol. The DoH is awaiting the official communication. But if that is the case, the DoH is capable of undertaking the bidding for the equipment,” Valencia said in a phone interview.

The opposition-dominated SP last week denied Tupas’s request to authorize him to sign the MOA with DoH.

The committees on health and sanitation and appropriations, which deliberated on Tupas’s request, said “there is no more time left for the Province of Iloilo to undertake the responsibilities it has chosen to undertake through the requests of Gov. Niel Tupas Sr, like to Bid and Award.”

Instead of the provincial government handling the bidding process, the SP recommended that the DOH Center for Health Development – Western Visayas for CHD will conduct the bidding.

Valencia said they want to finish the bidding this year “because saying naman ang opportunity to upgrade our hospital equipment.”

“We have the resources and chance to do that now and we should grab such opportunity while it is still there,” Valencia added.

Under the HFEP guidelines, the bidding and award of the equipment should have been completed on May 29, 2009.

The guidelines also stipulated that the start of construction and delivery of equipment should have happened between May to June 2009 while the completion date is December 2009.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

 

THE Office of the Ombudsman has taken interest in the controversial power supply agreement (PSA) between Iloilo Electric Cooperative (Ileco-3) and an independent power producer (IPP).

The anti-graft body has asked the National Electrification Administration (NEA) for a copy of the fact-finding’s team report on the PSA between Ileco-3 and Applied Research Technologies Phils., Inc. (Artech).

The three-man fact-finding team headed by Atty. Omar Mayo, NEA legal department chief, recommended the rescission of the PSA due to its grossly disadvantageous provisions that will burden Ileco-3 consumers.

The fact-finding also recommended that Ileco 3 directors will be preventively suspended and investigated for allegedly receiving bribes in exchange for the approval of the deal.

Edgardo Piamonte, National Electrification Administration (NEA) deputy administrator, confirmed that Ombudsman central office subpoenaed a copy of the fact-finding team’s report.

Mayor also confirmed that the anti-graft body asked for a copy of his report.

But the Ombudsman in Western Visayas said they have no records of any compliant or request for investigation on the Ileco 3-Artech deal.

Atty. Evangeline Nuñal, assistant graft investigation officer, said the complaint or request may have been filed with the Ombudsman Visayas in Cebu or their central office in Metro Manila.

Nuñal said the Ombudsman can also investigate alleged graft and corruption in government reported in the media.

Last May 5, former Judge Mateo Baldoza, Ileco 3 board president, told Joel Tormon of Aksyon Radyo that he received P75,000 cash from Gov. Niel Tupas Sr.

Baldoza said he received the money from Tupas during a meeting with Artech officials led by president Reynaldo Uy at the governor’s mansion in Jaro, Iloilo City last April 17.

The former judge alleged that Tupas asked him to help Artech while handing the money inside a white envelope.

The following day, Baldoza modified his statement saying it was a lady employee of Artech who gave him the money at the governor’s house.

He received another P75,000 cash from an Artech employee after they approved and signed the PSA in a hotel in Iloilo City April 21.

Lately, Baldoza said he stood by his first statement that Tupas gave him the money when the former faced the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) early this month.

The NBI had also launched an investigation on the issue based on the complaints of two Ileco 3 consumers.

Tupas denied bribing Ileco 3 directors saying he was only concerned with the looming power shortage in the cooperative’s franchise area.

Tupas said he wanted to assure that Ileco 3 will have enough power supply when its contract with National Power Corp. expires next year.

Domingo Beltran, Artech vice president, said they might sue Ileco 3 and NEA should the cooperative decide to rescind their PSA.

Beltran said it is up to Ileco 3 if it will decide to continue with the contract or not.

Tupas also accused Presidential Assistant for Western Visayas Raul Banias of spreading unsigned copies of the fact-finding team’s report to the media.

The governor said the report is not yet official as it remains unsigned and unapproved by NEA.

Banias, who requested the NEA probe, said Mayo and other NEA officials already confirmed the existence of the report which assailed the alleged onerous provisions of the contract.

Banias said the deployment of a NEA project supervisor to Ileco 3 is proof that NEA is seriously looking into deals and operations of the cooperative.

“NEA can always take over the operations of Ileco 3. We hope that NEA will hear the qualms of the consumers who are seeking justice for this alleged anomalous transaction,” Banias said.

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