Monday, March 10, 2014

Espino Camp reacts on my Cojuangco’s Interview


Are members of the 16th Congress still illegal recipients of the 10, 20 or more percent cut (S.O.P in the vernacular) on every project they interceded from Malacanang? 
Pangasinan Gov. Amado T. Espino shows the plaudits
the province reaped from the national government.
He was with Provincial Administrator Rafael Howard
Baraan who wrote a letter to the author on the latter
article on Mark Cojuangco.

In the March 6 page 2 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer “ ‘Pork” still working for lawmakers” by Leila B. Salaverria, she wrote: “The PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund) was then realigned to six executive agencies – the Commission on Higher Education (P2.66 billion); Department of Education (P1.022 billion); Department of Health (P3.69 billion); Department of Social Welfare & Development of Social Welfare & Development (P4.71 billion); Department of Labor & Employment (P3.69 billion); and Department of Public Works and Highways (P9.654 billion)”.
Does it mean if a subservient congressional ally of Malacanang can chalked up P10 million from one of this government entities through the imprimatur of the power-that-be, does it mean it is still monkey business as usual between the solon and his favorite private contractor?
As you know, one of the motivations for politicians in running for congressional office is the S.O.P they can get from the private contractor or supplier that implements a government project they chalked up. Before the evil Janet Napoles brought them to hell, the greediest of them I know in Region 1 pocketed up to 60% of a project allocated in a dredging operation of a river. This anomaly ensued through a conspiracy with the private contractor, members of the DPWH and Commission on Audit, and the lawmaker. Only 40% or P4 million goes to the haphazardly made operation while the P6 million of the P10 million projects have been divided by these vultures where the Lion share goes to the heartless solon.
With Malacanang needing the votes of members of Congress for important bills, it can marshal these vulnerable solons by ordering the heads of these departments and agencies to implement some of the billions of pesos of projects at their disposal to the district or constituency of the congressman or senator.
A hundred of millions of pesos project for the district of a congressman could make a difference between a pork less solon and a gluttonous solon that gets P20 million kickback a year from the conniving private contractor.
Has pork barrel indeed returns with a different name, different system of distribution, and with a vengeance?
“Sa akin iyong P200 million pork (2014) ko pina re-alligned ko sa calamity fund,” Senator Alan Peter Cayetano told me in Pilipino when I told him about my above observation when he dropped-by at the Dagupan City museum in March 10.
“Incase a congressman who has clout with Malacanang chalked up say P10 million projects from DPWH, can the solon asks his favorite private contractors to bid and give him his 10-20 percent cut? Has the pork returned” I posed to Cayetano.
“Maybe it has returned,” he retorted.

CONTROVERSIAL INTERVIEW: Author (3rd from right)
interviewed recently former congressman Marcos
 Bruno Cojuangco who declared he has a moist eye on the
 gubernatorial post of the humongous province.
Here’s a reply letter sent recently to me  by Pangasinan's Provincial Administrator Rafael Howard Baraan as reaction on my article “Cojuangco Declares Gubernatorial Bid” and column “Cojuangco for Governor goes Haywire” that saw print in this paper on March 1, 2014.  For the sake of fair and balance reporting and opining, here’s the entire text of the letter:
“This refers to your piece, published in the issue 47 of The Northern Watch, about your recent interview with former Congressman Mark Cojuangco. 
I hope he was not misquoted, or taken out of context, when based on his alleged statement, he sounded like he was criticizing the way Governor Espino was running the major programs and initiatives of the provincial government.
Thus, please allow me to make some clarifications to set the record straight.

Lingayen Airport
In regard to the Lingayen airport, we have been clamoring for its expansion and upgrading, even before the end of term of former Pres. GMA, and we have continuously communicated with the DOTC and the Civil Aeronautics Authority, about the same concern.
In fact, to show our seriousness, we have finalized negotiations with the owners of the property adjacent to the airport, for the province to purchase a 5-hectare adjoining lot, to pave the way for the expansion of the airport, and to extend the runway to at least 2500 meters, from the present 950 meters.
Consequently, and as properly authorized by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, we have allocated a continuing fund of P25million to purchase the lot, to be offered as provincial counterpart in the proposed airport expansion plan. 
We have written the Civil Aeronautics Board and the DOTC, to commit to undertake the project, and to sit down with us to discuss how to expedite the project.
We have been ready with our counterpart.  But since the airport is a property, and under the direct control and jurisdiction, of the national government, through the CAA and the DOTC, we have no choice but to wait for national government action on the matter.
If it were a provincial facility, I assure you that the airport would have been upgraded by now, since early on at the start of his first term, Gov. Espino has repeatedly announced his priority interest for the upgrading of the Lingayenairport, and the Sual Port, into commercial facilities, which he clearly understands as priority strategic requirements in promoting tourism, investments, livelihood opportunities in Pangasinan.

Flood Controls
As for flood control efforts, the province bought two dredging equipment, as early as 2008, purposely to undertake its own river dredging and clearing efforts, without need of depending on the national government.
We started from Dagupan, and down to Binmaley, Bugallon, and Lingayen, with positive results. In fact, the Province of Pangasinan has consistently received the 2010, 2011, and 2012 Likas Yaman regional award from the DENR, a national award from BFAR, and a National Outstanding LGU award from the Phil Jaycees, for this particular sustained effort.

Awardee Province
Pangasinan is also a regional Hall of Famer in hospital management and health program implementation. Just recently, last February 4-5, the provincial officials of Cebu, accompanied by no less than Governor Jun-Jun Davide, came for a benchmarking and learning tour of our provincial hospitals.
Cebu is only one of the growing list of LGUs, including Bukidnon, Mindoro Oriental, Cagayan, Tarlac, Aurora, and Benguet, who have sent delegations to learn from our best practices in hospital management, and health program implementation.
In regard to agriculture, Pangasinan is a consistent national awardee as one of the top rice and corn producing provinces in the whole country, and recognized as a best performing province in fisheries development.
On the whole, as concrete proof of the positive results of our major development initiatives, Pangasinan outpaced the entire country in poverty alleviation, from 2006 to 2012, a period which coincides with the first two terms of Governor Espino. According to the report from the National Statistical Coordination Board, Pangasinan registered a reduction in poverty incidence of 9.5%, which is much higher than the 1.1% national figure on poverty reduction, which was registered for the same period.
Most of these facts were stated by the governor in his report on the State of the Province last February 10, 2014, where Former Congressman Cojuangco was conspicuously present, and followed by the particular interview you had with the former congressman was supposed to have taken place.
It is, therefore, hard to imagine how the former congressman appeared to be totally unaware of these positive development efforts and governance initiatives that have been taking place in Pangasinan since Gov. Espino took over the provincial leadership in June 30, 2007.

Cojuangco Unaware
I am now constrained to suppose also that he is not aware that the Province of Pangasinan is the reigning Regional Champion in the DILG Gawad Pamana ng Lahi, as over-all Best Performing Province in Region I.
To add more irony, your article came out in the same issue where the Governor’s 2014 Report on the State of the Province was also published, and which report concretely contradicts the supposed critical statements of former Congressman Mark.
I hope, therefore, in fairness to Gov. Espino, who has worked vigorously to put the Province of Pangasinan in its rightful place today, in pursuit of the mission: to make Pangasinan number one, that you will find a way to publish this clarification in your next issue of The Northern Watch”.
To browse on those two of my controversial articles that ruffled some feathers, you can access them at: 1) Cojuangco for Governor goes Haywire (
2)  Cojuangco declares gubernatorial bid (

(You can read my selected columns at and articles at Pangasinan News Aro. You can send comments too

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