Kusog Bikolandia gains ground
By Rhaydz B. Barcia LEGAZPI CITY --- The newly formed regional political party Kusog Bikolandia is now gaining ground as its roster of members start to rise barely a month after its founding, Noel De Luna, chairman of the party said. Kusog Bikolandia was formed in July 5, this year, by a group of Bicol businessmen and former government officials as an alternative political party of young and dynamic leaders in the region. “From three members we have now more than 50 members and we are still counting,” De Luna said in an interview here. The new breed of regional political party leaders was crafted and organized last month by former mediaman and now a successful businessman Noel De Luna of Wellconstruct, Inc. De Luna as its chairman aims to champion genuine social equality where every Bicolano shall be given access to the basic needs of quality health services, education, livelihood, emergency assistance, pension and shelter (HELPS) and to formulate programs and projects under an integrated social-economic plan for the Bicol region. “Kusog Bikolandia seeks to bring a new breed of young leaders in Bicol to bring harmony with the local politicians with a common aspiration to change the political landscape in Bicol,” he said. De Luna had earlier declared his intention to run in the vice gubernatorial race in Albay in the 2019 midterm local elections but changed his plan with the Duterte government pushing for federalism. Kusog Bicolandia adopts the slogan “Bicolanong Buronyog, Rehiyong Makusog” (United Bicolanos, Strong Region). Majority of its members are professionals and businessmen who are desirous of radically changing the political landscape of the Bicol region. Kusog Bikolandia aspires for a people-oriented service to the Bicol region through the party chapters established from the provincial down to the purok level. “The voice of the Kusog-Bikolandia shall be heard to announce a strong mass-based regional political party ready and organized to participate in the political exercise in 2019 and beyond,” De Luna said. De Luna whose parents are both from Albay was born and raised in Camarines Sur when his parents were assigned to teach in public schools in far-flung towns of Camarines Sur. “We offer an alternative political party among the Bicolanos who will cooperate and work with the local officials to bring harmony and progress in every town and province,” he said. De Luna is joined by Atty. Jorge Sarmiento of Catanduanes as party president and Atty. Robert Rafael Lucila, as executive vice president. Sarmiento was former president of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor), former Postmaster-General, and former Undersecretary of the Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT). Lucila who hails from Albay, was former assistant executive secretary in Malacanang and currently the corporate secretary of GMA Network. Beyond politics, the party will advocate integrated socio-economic programs to promote genuine social equality for all to ensure that every Bicolano is provided with equal access to quality health services, education, livelihood and emergency assistance, pension and shelter. The party also aims to develop the region’s tourism destinations and achieve regional autonomy within the bounds of the Philippine constitution.