KB calls for unity, backs Leni’s presidential bid
By Aireen Pural
Kusog Bikolandia (KB), Bicol’s regional political party, led by its founder and chairman, former mediaman turned businessman Noel De Luna, has signified and committed its all-out support to Vice President Leni Robredo’s presidential bid.
On Oct. 7, in a press conference conducted after she filed her certificate of candidacy, Robredo shared how difficult it was to arrive at the decision to run for the presidency.
“The presidency is an enormous responsibility and a decision whether to run for president or not cannot be based on ambition or outside prodding. When it comes to leadership, there should only be one consideration: What is best for our country.”
With Robredo throwing her hat in the presidential race, KB leaders and officers urged the need for Bicolanos to set aside political differences and focus on one objective – a unified voting bloc for the Bicolana presidential aspirant.
Having a Bikolana at the country’s helm would guarantee progress and development to the whole region, KB said.
Leading by example on how Bicolanos could achieve a united front, De Luna had withdrawn his candidacy as representative of the 3rd District of Camarines Sur.
In a statement, De Luna said: “I am making the right decision by staying away from the congressional intramurals. That way, I will have time and effort to muster the strongest force that, in its humble way, will contribute to the victory of our first Bicolano president. I am duty bound, as we all are duty bound as Bicolanos, to rally behind our favorite daughter and support her bid to win the presidency.”
Lawyer Bob Lucila, former KB president, who passed away recently, in an article published in The Bicol Bloc, an online news website, wrote about the pressing necessity for a united Bikolano front.
Lucila wrote: “When Leni ran for Vice President in the 2016 elections, another Bikolano, Senator Chiz Escudero, ran against her. The spectacle of a Bicolana pitted against a Bicolano for the second-highest post of the land in 2016 was unprecedented, but it unmasked the lack of unity of the Bicol region in electoral exercises of national importance.
“In the past, and even at present, the Bicol region elected into office lawmakers in both Houses of Congress. At one time, six senators traced their roots from the region: Senators Joker P. Arroyo, Chiz Escudero, Gregorio B. Honasan, Juan Miguel Zubiri, Antonio Trillanes, and Maria Ana Consuelo (Jamby) Madrigal. It was a rare occasion for the Bicol region to occupy 25 percent of the entire Senate in the 14th Congress that should have been capitalized on to push the Bicol region’s socioeconomic development agenda. But sadly, they did not, as could be noticeably seen from the present state of the Bicol region, compared to the northern regions of Luzon Island.
“In our midst, therefore, are prominent political leaders in the executive and legislative departments, or even professionals like in medicine and law, and successful businessmen that showed the national and international community the true grit and spirit of a Bicolano. However, they seem to be not wholly committed to giving the Bicol Region the focus that it deserves or even remembers it, except perhaps only in times of natural disasters like volcanic eruptions and destructive typhoons. Therefore, it is high time to wake them up, incite them, and goad them to a socioeconomic revolution centered on the development of the Bicol region.
“Moreover, we should demand the service deserving of the solid vote of the Bicolanos that carried them to their respective positions through the years. This initiative hopes that a political consensus on the Bicol region’s autonomy may be achieved.
“Without the political consensus, any initiative toward Bicol region’s autonomy will not make any progress. With the framework laid out in this disquisition, the question at the outset should therefore be answered by all the Bicolanos,”
Based on the 2019 Commission on Election (Comelec) data, Bicol has a total voting population of 3.6 million or 5.9 percent of the total voters in the country. It is the 6th largest region in the Philippines in terms of voting population after Calabarzon, NCR, Central Luzon, Central Visayas, and Western Visayas.
Bicol’s voting population is larger than Ilocos, Eastern Visayas, Davao and the rest of the regions in the country.
Calabarzon and NCR, the first and second-largest regions in terms of voters, have produced one president each, Manuel Quezon and Joseph Estrada, respectively. Central Luzon has six, Ramon Magsaysay, Fidel Ramos, and the parent-child tandems of Diosdado and Gloria Macapagals and Corazon and Benigno Aquinos. With its much-vaunted “Solid North” vote, the Ilocos region has produced Elpidio Quirino and Ferdinand Marcos. The Visayas has Sergio Osmeña and Manuel Roxas, and Mindanao has Rodrigo Duterte.