Bohol Towns Under Comelec Control

Two places here have been placed under tight Comission on Elections watch following intense political rivalry claims and peace and order assessment by authorities.
 
Tagbilaran City and Trinidad town has been placed under Comelec Category A area; or that which has intense political rivalry and recorded election related violence in the past two elections.
 
Bohol's main city, according to newspaper reports showed an intense political rivalry between reelectionist Mayor Dan Lim and Vice-Mayor Jose Antonio Veloso. An ambush attempt for Governor Erico Aumentado was also recorder in 2004 has been reportedly the primary reasons of its being under the watchlist. 
 
Reports also alleged that the incumbent's organized city monitoring task force as being used to harrass and threaten voters.
 
On the other hand, Trinidad town on the northern part of Bohol has become an election area of concern with tight election rivalry between Governor and congressional candidate Erico Aumentado running against the Judith Cajes, wife of Rep. Roberto Cajes.
 
The two parties have been trading barbed accusations over Bohol radio airlanes, setting the stage for suits traded between both camps.
 
After a joint security coordination conference in Cebu, the Comelec placed the two areas under its watch prompting the regional police office to put up an additional aumentation.
 
The fresh police peace and security keepers came after three platoons of the Regional Public Safety Mobile Force was sent on the eve of the local election campaigns to secure Ubay, Getafe and Trinidad towns.
 
According to Bohol police commander PSSUpt Rodofo Llorca, with 819 personnel deployable for polling duty, the augmentation force allows the ideal ration of at least one police officer securing every PCOS machine.
 
Other than that, the army unit in Bohol has assured a full batallion of special forces spread in tactical ares in Bohol to pre-empt any attempt to terrorize voters. (PIA-Bohol) 

Bohol Army During the Philippine Election

Rising to the occasion to help the Commission on Elections conduct peaceful, honest, credible and free elections, 802nd Brigade Commanding General Alan Luga promised full military support.
 
With Bohol, Cebu, Samar and Leyte under his command, the Camp Rajah Sikatuna based BGen. Luga said the 2nd Special Forces Batallion of about 400 officers and men are now scattered all over Bohol to make sure that people can go out and vote without fear and intimidation from any party or individual.
 
"Your army forces will ensure that all voters are not terrorized by anybody," BGen. Luga said.
 
For every area, there is a Special Forces team, he assured while stressing that any act of voter intimidation would be responded immediately by his men. 
 
The army Special Forces are experts in the military's civil operations althoough these are also trained combatants when the occasion calls for.
 
Pinpointed as one of the major factors for Bohol successes in insurgency operations, the SF are the ones organizing communities and should not be feeling aliens to the task at hand, army sources reveal.
 
Even then, Bgen Luga requested "to immediately report or forward any information of intimidation to the police or military" so they could respond and do something. 

"We need this information from voters so we could help the authorities conduct a successful May 10 elections," he urged.
 
Now stripped of their usual anti-insurgency role after Bohol has been declared insurgency free since February, the Bohol army chief said they would even be complementing a larger and augmented  police force.
 
Asked about the two reported cases of PTCs, Luga downplayed the attempts calling them false alarms.
 
Also relieved of the task of responding to election related insurgency activities like exaction of permit to campaign, Gen. Luga said the absence of a rebel armed force makes them unable to forcefully collect. (PIA-Bohol) 

Bohol Election: Comelec Reshuffle

A reshuffling of elections officers all over Bohol came in effect last April 19 has assured the people that no election officer may show bias to his local chief executive.
 
New Tagbilaran City Election Officer Atty. Ricardo Villares bared this as he stressed that the rigodon should put election officers away from the allegations that they are conniving with the mayors and other local officials to assure their victories.
 
Villares, who came from vote-rich Loon also said the Commission on Elections has almost finished its preparations  for the elections.
 
Other than testing and sealing the Prescint Count Optical Scanners (PCOS) the Comelec would also have to attempt to transmit the results of a test run within the next few days.
 
Bohol election officer Eliseo Labaria Jr also said he hopes polls in Bohol would go smooth and peaceful, urging losing candidates to candidly accept defeat and stop being sore losers by spinning tales of being cheated. - PIA

Government Corruption in Bohol Island Philippines

By Bohol Chronicle

For alleged "rigged" bidding and overpriced purchase of heavy equipments, Gov. Erico Aumentado and members of the Provincial Bid and Awards Committee are now facing charges at the Ombudsman Visayas. 

Of all people, the complainant in these cases is Aumentado's erstwhile political protégée, second district congressman Roberto Cajes. 

The solon is now on his third and last term and is running for mayor of Trinidad town, while his wife, the outgoing town mayor, is Aumentado's opponent, contesting his return bid to the congressional district which he represented for three terms; 1995, 1998 till 2001. 

Charged together with Aumentado are Atty. Handel Lagunay, PBAC Chairman; Engr. Edwin Vallejos, Vice Chairman; Laura Boloyos of the Budget Office and Felix Mejorada of the Office of the Governor, in their capacities as PBAC members. 

P9.6M BACKHOE 

First cited in the Cajes complaint was the purchase in 2006 of one (1) unit hydraulic excavator (backhoe) which include an optional attachment of a breaker that allegedly cost only P6,580,000.00 but was paid to a lone bidder the amount of P9,649,500.00.  

Only one supplier, Civic Merchandising, Inc. - Cebu participated in the entire bidding process and was awarded the contract. 

"The P3,069,500 difference is a clear overprice, the extra money definitely not given to charity," Cajes said in his complaint. 

A salesman of the same supplier company, Civic Merchandising, Inc. –Manila allegedly told Cajes that a VOLVO EC2BLC backhoe of the same specifications as that of the one subject of the bid is only worth P6,200,000.00 plus 10% rebate if paid in cash or a net cash price of P5,580,000.00. 

On the other hand, the cost of a breaker, an attachment to a backhoe, is about P850,000.00 to P1.M. In sum, the net cash price of the complete backhoe unit would only be P6,580,000.00 only, Cajes pointed out. 

BAC members and other concerned provincial officials under the leadership of Gov. Aumentado allegedly did not take action, to conduct even a cursory canvass of prices of backhoes of the same class or category in order to determine the prevailing market price, at the very least, the solon added. 

Cajes also noted that a Letter of Credit (LC) opened in PNB Cebu Branch, debited from the current account of the Bohol Provincial Government was denominated in US dollar when the quoted price of the Volvo backhoe was in peso. Moreover, the beneficiary of the LC is Sydex Limited of Kowloon, Hongkong when the supplier was supposed to be Civic Merchandising-Cebu.  

"What Sydex Limited has to do with the purchase transaction?" Cajes asked.  

Two letters were sent to Ombudsman-Manila questioning the same purchase; the other one by Atty. Victor Dela Serna, former OIC governor of Bohol. 

Gov. Aumentado also promised to return the overprice amount and subsequently, Civic Merchandising, Inc. "voluntarily" donated P750,000.00 worth of goodies, like canned goods, etc to the province. Aside from the donated goods, Civic also returned to the province the amount of P238,940.00, allegedly due to "miscomputation."  

Was there really a miscomputation or was it just a scheme adopted in order to cover-up the highly anomalous transaction?, Cajes asked. 

HEAVY EQUIPMENT 

Another bidding of heavy equipment was conducted by the provincial government on Feb. 9, 2009. This time, the equipment to be purchased included two (2) units track excavator with breaker; two (2) units of bulldozer; two (2) units of payloader; ten (10) units of six wheeler dump trucks; four (4) units of grader; and four (4) units vibratory compactor. 

RDAK, Civic Merchandising-Cebu, JVF and Camec JCB Corp (CJC) participated in the bidding. 

Under the New Government Procurement Reformed Act (R.A. 9184), it is provided that in all cases, the contract shall be awarded only to the bidder with the Lowest Calculated Responsive Bid or Highest Rated Responsive Bid. 

Instead of disbursing an amount equivalent to the lowest bid, the Approved Budget for the Contract (ABC) for the equipment were very much higher. 

Aside from the highly anomalous biddings conducted by the provincial government, Gov. Aumentado also failed to act on the delay of RDAK Transport Equipment, Inc. to deliver two (2) units of brand new payloaders specified under P.O. No. 221 dated April 8, 2009 signed by the governor himself. Until now, the company RDAK has not yet delivered the payloaders. 

Under such purchase order, RDAK ought to deliver the payloaders within ninety (90) days upon receipt of the P.O.; otherwise it could be held liable to pay a penalty of one –tenth (1/10) of one (1) percent for everyday of delay. 

The inaction of Gov. Aumentado gives clear advantage to RDAK but to the detriment and due damage/injury to the provincial government, Cajes said. 

The second district solon charged all respondent for violation of the Anti-Graft and Corruption Practices (R.A. 3019); Fraud against Public Treasury, Art. 213 (1) of the Revised Penal Code; and violation of the Gov't Procurement Reformed Act (R.A. 9184). 

Cajes also asked the Ombudsman to mete a preventive suspension immediately on all respondents, subject to pertinent Election laws, to prevent them from devising ways of suppressing the records on matters raised in the complaint.

Efforts to contact Gov. Aumentado for his comment failed until press time.

Protecting Bohol Heritage

THE country can now start its formal reference to a law, which guides cultural protection and preservation.

And for the rejoicing Boholanos, the enactment of the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009 adds more power to the earlier Bohol Arts and Cultural Heritage Code.

Leading the country's efforts on formal heritage protection and conservation, Boholanos had been guided by BACH Code as the bible for local cultural workers.

And the local law fits snugly into the new law, says cultural lobbyist and enthusiast Lutgardo Labad.

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has finally inked into law an act which provides a backbone for efforts in aggressive advocacy for better cultural heritage protection and conservation of the country's priceless heritage.

For Bohol, the development also puts into formal gear the efforts of communities and cultural workers to protect, preserve and conserve built heritage best exemplified in centuries-old churches, watch and bell towers, public buildings, arch bridges and turn of the century structures which graphically present the country's history.

The President signed Republic Act No. 10066 which provides for the protection and conservation of national cultural heritage.

At the same time, the act also strengthens the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and its Affiliated Cultural Agencies which are tasked to oversee the careful implementation of such efforts, says Boholano cultural worker Lutgardo Labad.

The act, which was signed on March 26, 2010 was lobbied by NCCA through Presidential Adviser on Culture Cecile Guidote-Alvarez.

"The nation is now assured of a continued commitment for the protection and conservation of our national cultural heritage," Labad said.

Also called the "National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009," the law aims to streamline protection, preservation and promotion of the nation's cultural heritage, its property and histories, and the ethnicity of local communities, the multi-awarded cultural aficionado stressed.

It also seeks to establish and strengthen cultural institutions and protect cultural workers and ensure their professional development and well-being.

This act would now allow developers and art workers to approach conservation in an integrated and holistic manner where the state has asserted efforts to create a balanced atmosphere where the historic past co-exists in harmony with modern society.

This opens up wellsprings of relevant disciplines and technologies to be used in conservation and restoration efforts while administering the heritage resources in a spirit of stewardship for the inspiration and benefit of the present and future generations, Labad explained. (PIA-Bohol)