The “trusted lieutenants”

By Cha Monforte

An ex-Comval boardmember who is now out of public office said to me after reading our last week’s issue that transactions like the CISA transaction were always thrown by ex-Governor Jose “Joecab” Caballero to the Comval Sangguniang Panlalawigan for their prior authority and approval. He was one of the member of the so-called Comval SP Eight, the majority that blocked Joecab’s executive and supplemental budgets during the 2005-2006 budget wars in Comval. He said the new law on government procurement was already there existing and operational, and yet transactions like the CISA transaction of the Davao del Norte provincial government, passed to their scrutiny.

Maybe, sir, Comval’s precedent was different because ex-Gov. Joecab became already a virtual lameduck governor by your too much fliibustering and obstructionism in the SP. But “no” the ex-Comval boardmember retorted, adding, “Joecab always makes it sure there will be no legal liabilities on his part later in whatever contracts he would implement for and in behalf of the province.” The ex-BM who had three terms said that during his first and second terms he was a good, loyal ally of the ex-Gov. Joecab. He is a lawyer. I saw him only shaking his head while reading our issue bannering the headline, “AALA’s THUNDER COMES TO SNUBBED SP”.

There were evident rush and shortcuts in the awarding and implementation of the security services contract of CISA, in so far as the period Dec. 28, 2010-Jan. 1, 2011 is concerned. Why? We take Dec. 28 as more of a day of notifying, complying all the documents with a questionable e-mailed document at that, and a day of awarding. There were still Dec. 29 and 30, two days that the Capitol Triumvirate composed of provincial administrator Rufo Peligro, BAC chair and PGSO Samson Sanchez and PLO Atty. Jennifer Namoc could have appraised the sitting Acting Gov. Victorio “Baby” Suaybaguio Jr on what had happened to the bidding before the CISA guards would move in to secure the Capitol complex, but oh, my gulay! they just didn’t. Why, oh wow? So there was no Notice to Proceed sent to CISA until the supposed last day (Jan. 6, 2011) of the required timeframe to issue such under Republic Act No. 9184 (Government Procurement Reform Act), when the vice gov was still the acting gov.

Since Gov. Rodolfo del Rosario signed the contract “after January 8, 2011”, as bared by COA auditor Susan Querequincia in an interview with us, the more the CISA guards are not allowed to swing their presence around in the Capitol from Jan. 1 to Jan. 8, 2011, assuming that the contract does not need a prior authority and approval from the SP.
If I dub Boardmember Shirley Belen Aala as the “tigress” (a female tiger) in the DavNor SP, I am tempted to dub the Liga ng Barangay provincial president Vincent “Enteng” Floirendo as the sleeping lion in the same provincial board. Obviously, BM Vincent (to differentiate with the other BM Enteng- Eliot)is still on the threshold of his learning curve as a provincial legislator. Wait ‘til the lion is awake and he would no longer be silent during sessions. I saw and covered his Manong Tonyboy as a boardmember in the mid 80s and the latter showed that among equals in the SP he was oozing with influence. The sleeping lion now is preeminent District 2 congressman who would succeed Cong. Anton Lagdameo after his last/second term.

I chanced upon last week ex-Panabo City Mayor Rey Gavina in a shoe shine shop in his city’s downtown and I asked him about his bent of running as drawn by political pundits who are always meeting and plotting in the kapihan under the acacia trees fronting Panabo’s Hall of Justice. He said he’s yet hopeful that the “agreement” between him and Mayor Joe Silvosa Sr “will be implemented”. Considering the pundits’ says so that it would be a “long way for the Gamaos and Gavinas” in Panabo’s politics with no less than his son, city councilor and PCL president BM Janrey “Biboy” Gavina as a faraway city mayor after the three mayoral terms of the expected next Panabo mayor, current Vice Mayor James Gamao, starting 2016, if I were on his shiny shoes, I’d better not run for a mayoral comeback by 2013 so as not to risk the good prospect in the political careers of his kins- own son BM Biboy and brother-in-law VM James. After all, ex-Mayor Gavina had already his sweet time in serving well the city of Panabo.

The CISA controversy erupted at a time when Gov. RDR visibly needs a rest, literally and figuratively. He spent about 18 hours in air travel from US to PH and here he was met on the first week of the year by a raging controversy not of his own making but by the rush and shortcuts made by his “trusted lieutenants” (to borrow words from the news that hurt SP members) to implement the CISA contract. Perhaps, if they are indeed loyal to the governor they should have cared for his health. There’s apparent work-related stress spawned by the controversy that hit all of the concerned – in both sides of the pros and cons, which could have been avoided had there were no rush and shortcuts made. Though the CISA controversy is largely now about a question of law as well as a question of fact, but, since the cat was already out in the bag when the fire in the house was started after Peligro burned the bridges anew with his vice governor in continuity of the past wranglings between them, and this time around- with the unresolved issue about the bypassing of the SP’s prior authority, the snubbing of the SP’s invitation to him, to BAC chairman Sanchez and to CISA owner Rolando de la Cruz, and the grandstanding charge from the governor- the coverage of the chasm has been extended to several questioning boardmembers, if not to the entire SP as an institution. At 76, behind the too long years of the governor’s illustrious and exemplary political career, the CISA controversy is quite certaintly an unwanted thing to come at a time when he is often guessed at by pundits to be planning for a much needed retirement from politics by 2013, as there’s sunrise early in a day and there’s sunset late in the day. Sadly, the CISA controversy is amidst us, compliments of the governor’s “trusted lieutenants”.
For all his eye to the 2016 governorship in Compostela Valley, second-termer District 2 Cong. Rommel “Bobong” Amatong is better challenged now to establish his own identity provincewide, or particularly to the District 1. It is quite a public knowledge that Cong. Amatong won his first term because of his legendary father Pros, who was still alive in 2007 polls, and he was reelected last May 2010 polls because his stateman father Pros died and the legend of Pros Amatong was proven in the massive outpouring of grief and love of the people to him in the wake of his death due to an accident in the US. There was indeed that people’s burial of the legend-hero-stateman Pros Amatong which preceded the last May 2010 polls. Now, Cong. Amatong must extricate himself from the shadows of his late father, for what the people see in him is his father. He has to barrel through his own leadership to the District 1 like the way ex-District 1 Cong. Manuel “Way Kurat” Zamora is barreling through now his own leadership to Amatong’s very hometown and bailiwick of Nabunturan, in his own legislative district. Cong. Amatong has to answer now the first question why ex-District 2 Cong. Way Kurat has already penetrated District 2, and why he (Amatong) is yet to penetrate District 1. (For your reactions, e-mail:

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