War brewing between the fishermen of Jagna and Garcia Hernandez

By Joe Espiritu

There could be war brewing between the fishermen of Jagna and Garcia Hernandez. If this is not stopped in time it might flare up into an open conflict. Strict implementation of a law or ordinance is good but since nothing is perfect, there must be allowances. Since there was none those who had been penalized would be looking for instances so they could retaliate. Some residents of Garcia established fish sanctuaries. They placed buoys around certain areas so fishermen would observe rules pertaining sanctuaries. A no disturbance rule inside the defined area is strictly imposed. Stiff penalties are imposed for violations. There are complaints for over enforcement of the rule. There is no room for consideration, violators claim. There was a fisherman from Jagna, out of ignorance or defiance, cast his long line locally called paranghe or palangre inside the sanctuary. He was apprehended and fined. Although the chap paid through his nose, he could do nothing since he was a violator. Then there was one who claimed, he set his lines outside the no fishing zone, he was also charged with the no disturbance violation and fined. There were fishermen cruising inside the zone and they were chased off. 

Penalties could be imposed on the first and last incidents, but the second one is clearly not a violation since the operation was already outside the zone. Then there was one who merely landed because he had drifted inside the area due to some boat trouble. He too was penalized. Then there was on whose engine had conked out outside the sanctuary. He was towed inside the zone and was penalized. If those stories were true, sanctuary wardens could be charged with piracy or kidnapping and illegal detention. However, those wrongly accused cannot afford to take their cases to court. Every day away from fishing would mean less food for their families. They would be looking for time and place to retaliate in one way or another. The sad part is that they take it out on the wrong persons. 

Jagna has her share of sanctuaries. Their wardens are also strict in enforcing the rules. There had been arguments but since the rules had been enforced within acceptable limits argument would not degenerate into violence. This means violators are aware of their transgressions. Perhaps it is just pride or plain stubbornness, which makes them argue back but it is only as far as that. There had been stories of Jagna fishermen shooing away Garcia boats away from Jagna waters. Those men were not the ones who had allegedly done them wrong but since they were not able to fight back, they take it out on the wrong fellow. Sadly, the sanctuary wardens do no go out to sea. When the winds will shift to southwest, Garcia fishermen will be blown towards Jagna. Hopefully the Jagna fishermen will learn to distinguish people. 

In other places, when boats are stranded because of engine trouble or boat malfunction, the sailor or fisherman is aided. Jagna fishermen say that if it happens in the sanctuary area, they are fined. No considerations given. If disturbing the waters of the sanctuary is strictly forbidden, warning signs must be placed all over the area. It is not fair to use the sanctuary as a trap for the unwary. The stories might not be true. Fishermen are used to aiding one another during trouble no matter where one comes from. They have a set of unwritten rules to follow. When something starts brewing, it must be settled at once otherwise it become more serious before we know it.

Lady Board Member in Bohol Philippines

By Manuel Ferdinand Ramirez de Erio

According to fitness expert Chad Tackett, "If you have a willingness to work through the initial emotional discomfort as you move step-by-step into (this) new lifestyle, you'll find the confidence, commitment, determination, and belief in your own self-worth that will ease the way." True enough for Maria Fe "Mafe" Camacho-Lejos, the lady whom once upon a time enjoyed her life in privacy within the walls of love of her family and the shelter of her earned comfort in life. 

Few people know and even remember, that this tall and graceful lady Board Member of the third district of this province, at age of 10 years was already in grade six. And, was even the first to be crowned as Bohol Girl Scout Dream Girl in 1967. Mafe finished pre-med in Velez College , Cebu City . She then enrolled in the University of Bohol , Tagbilaran City where she became the class president and graduated with Bachelor Science in Nursing. She tied knots with Christopher Lejos and was blessed with two sons Kevin and Kerson. 

After she worked in then Quezon Institute (now TB Pavilion) for four years were she was also elected and served as president of the Quezon Institute Nurses Association during the last three years and also elected as the National Secretary General of the Alliance of Health Workers for two years (1984-1986), Mafe decided to work abroad as nurse in a hospital in saudi Arabia. For sixteen years of work, she learned to be patient in dealing with people from different walks of life. Although she was working abroad during the childhood years of her two sons, Mafe maintained her intimacy with her family, especially Kevin and Kerson. "Mama is like a barkada to us," Kerson quipped. "No son could ask for a better mom," added the eldest of the two, Kevin. 

The threshold to change 

When Dr. Estanislao Camacho withdrew his candidacy due to his terminal ailment, the family decided for Mafe to take Dr. Camacho's slot in the political party. "Politics is not my cup of tea. It couldn't say no to the offer, it's not easy to yes either," Mafe stressed. "I love my private life. I do whatever I wish to do without having to think of other people," she added. Since Mafe spent most of her years in Manila and abroad, most of the people only knew her by name. It was a real culture shock when she had fully realized what she was into. "It's an ultimately new thing for me. I used to be always behind the scene," Mafe recalled. For Mafe's eldest son, Kevin who grew in Manila where he never heard of a Board Member, the position did not really concern him. It was the possible consequences that disturbed Kevin, "We were just like any other families. I didn't want the thought that anybody could just simple evade our private life." 

Public service, here she comes! 

When Mafe filed her candidacy she felt right there and then that the position was God-given. "I felt and somehow believe that the position is really for me…that the time has come," she recalled. Mafe was offered to run for mayor of Getafe a couple of times in the past with the pledges of her family for the moral and logistic support, but not even once she considered the offer. 

When she took her oath and begun her pubic service, she experienced realities that are hard to accept. "There are people in politics who are not actually public servants. I then realized that one can be a politician but not necessarily a public servant," she quipped. Probably the most wonderful insight that Mafe gained is to see and understand the plight of those who are least fortunate in life and being able to do something for them. "It's really gratifying to help people who are really in dire need for help. This is the most compensating part in public service." She emphasized. As for Kevin who run and won Governor of the College of Liberal Arts in UB after the year his mother won and as a board member, "We were happy before and we're still happy now." Kevin said, referring to their family life. 

When ask if Kevin's interest in youth and student service and leadership should lead him to follow his mother's footsteps, and even continue the political legacy of the Camacho clan, "I can never tell, the chances are really unpredictable. As of the moment I am not sure how long my passion for service will last." Kevin bared. "From the very beginning of my mama's term, I expected humps along the road. Now, I see my mom encounter humps. It's either fear it or learn from it." Kevin added. Just like his mother, Kevin's leadership style is inspired by the real intention for service, something that he and his mama shared, "We tend to serve more than the services that we offer." After the first term, what's next?

Mafe has long accepted the reality that nothing is perfect. However, she wishes for a more mature electing population. "I have learned to love public service. I'd like to be remembered by my initiative for sustainable livelihood and concern for public health especially for the children. I also understand that I can still be of public service even after my term as board member," Mafe shared. Knowing that politics is a milestone of the Camacho clan, people are wondering if she'll take another round in politics after her first term. Mafe has only this to share, "I'll cross the bridge when I get there!" For Kevin, "Whatever is her decision either to run for reelection, retire or find and settle for a new job, I just want to see her happy with us, her family." Though the course of Mafe's journey in public service is uncertain at present, one thing is for certain. Mafe has learned to love and has enjoyed her life in public service. Politics made her see a greater reality in the plight of the Filipino masses and public service definitely changed her heart.

Panglao Bohol Airport Corruption

By Sunday Post
The opening of bids for the construction of the Panglao Bohol International Airport Phase 1, Package 1 has been moved to February 5 instead of January 25.

  Bohol Gov. Erico Aumentado, go-getter for the P7.5-billion project of the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) said closure of the dropping of bids and subsequent opening was postponed by 11 days to accommodate more bidders who expressed intention of participating in the process.

  Contrary to the sender's letter that said dropping of bids will be on January 25 yet, 14 bidders have in fact dropped bids as of December 14.

  Aumentado who chairs the Panglao Island Tourism Development Inter-Agency Task Force (PITD IA-TF) that has at least five Cabinet members in it has repeatedly impressed upon the task force that the bidding must be open, competitive, transparent and with accountability.

  However, Bohol will have no hand in the bidding process as the MIAA, being the implementing agency, is handling it.

  Aumentado said the latest delay of a matter of a few days will not imperil the project. Instead, he expressed elation over the development when informed that the new participants are "heavyweights" in the airport construction industry.

  "But there is no favored bidder," the governor said in reaction to an email sent by Corruption Watch Philippines (CWP) with email address of Cwpafrica@yahoo.com.

  The email sender had challenged the provincial government of Bohol to disprove that the project will be awarded to C.M. Pancho Construction – allegedly still blacklisted by the World Bank – in consideration of P100 million reportedly arranged by NDG or Nards de Guzman, Aumentado's trusted man.

  De Guzman came with the representatives of the bidders who conducted on January 12 an ocular inspection of Brgy. Tawala in Panglao – site of the runway and terminal building for which President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo broke ground on May 20, 2008, it does not mean that he has arranged a shadowy deal, the governor emphasized.

  De Guzman helps him arrange meetings with Cabinet officials whenever he goes to Manila to follow up projects but not to negotiate with any contractor or contractors for cuts in rigged biddings.

  "I have always adhered to the principles of transparency and accountability. The bidding for the Panglao Airport, of which the province has no participation except to wait for MIAA's Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) to announce the winner is no exception," he stressed.

  Besides, he said, the sender apparently is not abreast with its facts considering that as early as January last year, the company had already caused the publication in a national broadsheet that the World Bank has already cleared it from bid-rigging and colluding with other firms and officials of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), and that it will never resort to bribery and corrupt practices to earn or win its contracts.

  "The charges against CM Pancho are all false and baseless. Contrary to the erroneous content of the news items, CM Pancho was in fact cleared by the World Bank in its aforesaid decision of any charges of alleged corrupt, unsound and fraudulent practices," it said.

  "CM Pancho has likewise not colluded with any 'cartel' of the participating firms or any DPWH [Department of Public Works and Highways] official in the bidding process of NRIMP1 as it submitted legitimate bids, which can be justified up to the last centavo," it added.

  Aumentado also said the sender apparently has not been to Bohol lately to to apprise  
his group of the situation at the check in, pre-departure and parking areas of the Tagbilaran Airport.

  Booking for flights except when done months ahead of departure, is already an ordeal, not to mention that tourist arrivals have been increasing due to aggressive campaigns for eco-cultural, heritage, adventure and even agricultural tourism.