Kusog Bikolandia: A new Bicol regional political party is born
By JASON b. NEOLA MANILA --- A new regional political party rises. But beyond politics, the party will strongly work for an ambitious integrated socio-economic program for the Bicol region and promote genuine social equality for all. It will make sure that every Bicolano is provided with equal access to quality health services, education, livelihood and emergency assistance, pension and shelter, enhance its vast tourism potentials and achieve the regional autonomy of the region within the parameters of the Philippine Constitution. The party, known as “Kusog Bikolandia” seeks to embody the aspirations of all Bicolanos and whose members shall come from the six provinces of the Bicol Region, namely Albay, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Masbate, and Sorsogon. The party is headed by Bicolano businessman and public relations expert Noel De Luna, Atty. Jorge Sarmiento, and Atty. Robert Rafael Lucila. They were elected as chairman, president, and executive vice president, respectively, during a special general assembly meeting of the founding members held recently in Manila. De Luna of Camarines Sur and Albay is the president and managing officer of Wellconstruct, Inc. Sarmiento of Catanduanes was former President of Philippine Amusement and Games Corporation (Pagcor), former Postmaster-General, and former Undersecretary of the Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT). Lucila, who hails from Albay, was former Deputy Executive Secretary in Malacanang and currently the head of the legal department of GMA Network. In the declaration of its political creed, all members of Kusog Bikolandia are enjoined to believe in the Supreme Being, protect the environment, serve the nation, help in the development of the Bicol region, be men for others, take care of family and develop oneself. It will also seek to institutionalize political reforms by developing and training potential regional and sectoral leaders, with emphasis on youth, who will nurture wholesome Filipino traits, values and morality in public office. It will further pursue reforms in the educational system through a shift from “theory-oriented” curriculum to that of skills and competency type of instruction. Already, the party has created working committees that will assume immediate activities in connection with party membership expansion. It was resolved that the party will conduct membership campaigns to complete representations in the provincial, city, district and municipal levels throughout the Bicol region. A party spokesman said preferences for recruitment are those currently without formal party affiliations but are dedicated to contribute to the development and socio-economic prosperity of the Bicol region. Those belonging to traditional political parties, however, may have to prove their loyalty to the region and the party before his membership in ‘Kusog Bikolandia’ may be considered for appreciation. It may be noted that included in the party’s platform of government is to enter into strategic partnership, alliances, working relations or joint venture with organized groups, foundations and other associations that share the same interest of the party to promote the socio-economic development of the Bicol Region, as well as the political awareness and maturity of the constituents in the region. The other founding officers of the party are: Redencion De Leoz, Jr. (former Presidential Management Staff/Head), Secretary General; Flor B. Azotea, Executive Treasurer; Jose B. Perez, VP for Sectoral Affairs; Atty. Steve Resari, Executive Director/Vice President for Albay; Atty. Felix Brazil, VP for Camarines Sur; Juan Escandor Jr., VP for Sorsogon/Masbate; Febes B. Rada, VP for Camarines Norte, and; Fred Gianan, VP for Catanduanes.