Kusog Bikolandia pushes for political reforms, unity
By Rhaydz B. Barcia LEGAZPI CITY--- Kusog Bikolandia (KB), the newly-formed regional political party is pushing for total political reforms in the region. The party, organized only in July, was finally introduced to the public during the 1st Bicol All Media Convergence held at Casablanca Convention Center the political party and the members of its executive board before some 400 media practitioners coming from all over the region. Though its chairman Noel De Luna was not present during the event, Sarmiento and his vice presidents representing the 6 provinces of the region, the sectoral groups and other district leaders were warmly received by the newsmen who had their chance to ask further questions during the open forum. “We are new political organization of experienced and accomplished men from the private and government sectors pushing for political reform but open for alliances that share our goals and vision,” Sarmiento said in an interview here. Sarmiento who served in several administrations in various posts said Kusog Bikolandia will continue to recruit new members from provincial, city, provincial, and down to the barangay level. When asked why Kusog Bikolandia is unique as regional political party in the country, Sarmiento said the party is focused more on local interests and confined to a smaller territory, but they possess as much rights and privileges as a full-fledged political party just like the PDP-Laban, Nacionalista Party, Nationalist’s Coalition, Liberal Party and others whose existence is guaranteed by the constitution. Sarmiento explained that the party is not part of the party-list system or a party-list by itseft. He explained that the party-list emanates from sectoral groups that primarily seek to promote sectoral interests and enhance their representation, particularly among the marginalized and the underrepresented sectors in the House of Representatives. “Kusog Bikolandia, on the other hand, is a regional political party which primarily aims to advance our distinct political identity and ideology for Bikol progress and growth just like Pundok Kauswagan or Partido Panaghiusa in Cebu, the Partido Magdalo in Cavite and the Hugpong Pagbabago in Davao,” he said. The organization is a regional political party of the Bicolanos whose roots come from the six provinces of Bicol such as Albay, Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte, Sorsogon, Catanduanes and Masbate, and those who may have settled in other places where Bicolano communities flourish. “We gather our strength and draw aspiration from our own people such that we are independent and separate from other traditional national political parties. However, KB may enter into tactical alliances with other interest groups based on principle and commonality on regional aspiration and priorities,” Sarmiento said. The party also espouses development values, participative governance and local government autonomy without sacrificing nationalism. Sarmiento said that party champions genuine social equality where majority of the Bicolanos shall have access to basic needs like health services, education, livelihood and emergency assistance, pension, shelter and job creation through tourism development. “We shall also endeavour to institutionalize political reforms by developing and training potential regional and sectoral leaders, with emphasis on youth, who will nurture Filipino and Bicolano traits, values and morality in public office,” the Kusog Bicolandia president said. “We are a new political organization but we’re experienced and accomplished men in private and government service pushing for political reform but open for alliances,” Sarmiento said in an interview here. Sarmiento, who served the government in several administrations, said Kusog Bicolandia will scout young members from provinces and cities, and as far as the barangay level. When asked why Kusog Bicolandia is unique as a regional political party, Sarmiento said that the party is new and formed by experienced, accomplished, and hardworking people in various fields of discipline who are pushing for genuine political reform in the region. The party adheres to protecting nature, and believes the patriotic sense of the party is an indispensable requirement for them to serve the common good and the interest of Bicol by endeavouring to be self-reliant. The party also espouses development values, participative governance, and local government autonomy without sacrificing nationalism. “We shall also endeavour to institutionalize political reforms by developing and training potential regional and sectoral leaders, with emphasis on youth, who will nurture Filipino and Bicolano traits, values and morality in public office,” the Kusog Bicolandia president said Making up the party The organization is a regional political party of Bicolanos whose roots come from the 6 provinces of Bicol, namely Albay, Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte, Sorsogon, Catanduanes, and Masbate, as well as those who may have settled in other places where Bicolano communities flourish. Majority of its members are professionals and businessmen who are looking to radically change the political landscape of the Bicol region. De Luna is from Albay and Camarines Sur while his partymates, lawyers Jorge Sarmiento and Robert Rafael Lucila, are from Catanduanes and Albay, respectively. Sarmiento was a former head of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor), former Postmaster-General, and a former Undersecretary of the Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT). Lucila was assistant executive secretary for legislation in Malacacang and is the corporate secretary of GMA Network since March 2017.