Noynoy accepts challenge

Senator Noynoy Aquino has finally accepted the challenge and responsibility to continue the legacy of his parents and lead the country by running as president next year.

He made the announcement just a while ago at the historic Club Filipino in San Juan, Metro Manila.

Here in Davao, the planned activities to mark the 40th day of mourning on the passing away of former President Cory Aquino would now become the opening salvo for Noynoy for President Movement.

A motorcade is now underway in the city’s main streets towards the Matina Town Center (MTS) where an inter-faith prayer service and assembly of various Noynoy support groups would be held.

I was invited to represent the Liberal Party. I will also represent Mayor Rody Duterte is the activity.

At noon, a mass would be held at the San Pedro Cathedral with Raffy Lopa representing the Aquino clan.

In 20 minutes it would be 9 am of September 9, 2009 or 09-09-09-09. Will this bring luck to Noynoy and win in 2010?

Well, your guess is as good as mine.

Davao OTOP conference

The Davao City One-Town One-Product or OTOP convergence conference will open today at Apo View Hotel. It would feature one-on-one consultations with experts.

This is to give some 50 OTOP entrepreneurs in the city a chance to bring out their problems to the experts.

Available to give their expert advise are representatives from the DTI Designers Pool who are experts on designs, labeling and packaging; MASICAP who are experts in business plans and feasibility studies; and PBSP for enterprise development and corporate social responsibility.

The OTOP conference would also discuss issues taken up during last year’s convergence of micro-small-and medium enterprises, local and national government agencies, and civil society groups.

To cap the conference, recognition to outstanding OTOP practitioners would be handed out by the DTI Davao City Field Office.

I would be representing Mayor Rody Duterte in the conference.

Crime

I lost count how many times her administration declared war on drug abuse. Yet, everytime, the drug menace wins the battles.

Now, she has crowned herself as the “new anti-drug czar.” To what? Lead another losing war or take a piece of the action in the multi-billion drug trade, which includes huge pay-offs to authorities?

Expect Gloria’s initiative to go pppffttt!

Here is a news report that crime is gripping Davao City.

It has no source apart from police data and placed the population of the city as “more than half a million.” A clear factual error that escaped the Tribune editors.

This story was clearly manufactured in Manila as a demolition job on Mayor Rody Duterte.

Queensland: SP no, Mayor yes

Mayor Rody Duterte appeared jolly last night as he met members of the City Council for a consultation. Tagging along with the mayor were members of the local media. So, much of what we discussed at the Grand Men Seng Hotel from 9 p.m. to midnight would surely be in the news in the coming days.

Here is a quick view.

The mayor started by notifying the councilors that he received a letter from the Philippine Reclamation Authority on the controversial Queensland reclamation along Times Beach, part of which is a city government reservation. He told us that the City Legal Office has just referred the matter to the City Council. And this was the reason he called for the meeting.

He explained in no uncertain terms his personal position on the issue: “no objection” to the Queensland application with PRA. He emphasized, however, the need to set aside as another matter the issue on Queensland’s encroachment on the city government’s reservation.

The mayor’s stand is contrary to the position of most members of the City Council, including Vice Mayor Sara Duterte, who are not keen to grant the Queensland’s bid. For many and various reasons.

A second public hearing on this issue is set next week. It would indeed be very interesting how this new development would play into the final verdict of the City Council.

The other issues taken up by the mayor were as serious yet he was able to elicit a number of good laughs from us with his no-holds-barred remarks. Sorry folks, most of these are unprintable.

On the peace and order – he affirms his support for a political settlement with the MILF; and that the city is not threatened by the conflict in central Mindanao;

On the crash of the C-130 Philippine Air Force cargo plane off the Davao Gulf – it was an accident likely caused by the bad weather Monday night;

On city government projects – the need to establish bus terminals outside the city center, installation of CCTV cameras in major city streets; and privatization of the city-owned slaugther house;

And a final poser on what to do with the offer of a state bank for a new credit line to the city government of P3 billion.

7:26 a.m.

Dark clouds over Mindanao

No, this is not about the bad weather. Yet the disturbance is as compelling.

The dark clouds hovering in Mindanao is ironically about peace.

The agreement on the contentious ancestral domain issue between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) set to be signed in Kuala Lumpur tomorrow is causing serious concerns in several key areas of the island, notably in North Cotabato, Iligan and Zamboanga.

The inclusion of parts of their territory – without prior consultation – is among the gusty winds heaping up various protests. The other stormy blows are the continuing armed clashes in certain areas of North Cotabato and Maguindanao, and attempts to move the elections in the Muslim autonomous region scheduled for next week.

The recent armed attacks appears to have three-sided aims. One, to expand MILF controlled territory, two, to disrupt the elections, and three, to force the hand of both parties to sign or not to sign the pact.

I favor the peace agreement yet I worry how these new developments are unfolding.

For instance, we have seen how voters rejected the inclusion of many territories in the previous peace accords. I see the futility of including them again in this new agreement. Both panels are raising false hopes in this attempt to expand the areas to be covered under the envisioned Bangsamoro Juridical Entity. I am certain that this would be voted down in a plebiscite.

In the case of the 1996 peace agreement with the Moro National Liberal Front (MNLF), attempts were likewise made to include, for example, Davao del Sur under the autonomous region and Davao City under the Special Zone of Peace and Development in Southern Philippines. The former was rejected by the people of Davao del Sur in a plebiscite; the latter rejected by the government panel in the final negotiations.

I was in Jakarta to represent Mayor Rody Duterte in the final rounds of the 1996 peace talks and I witnessed the discussions on the inclusion of Davao City in the SZOPAD. The government panel stuck firm on its position that Davao City was not among the areas covered in the Tripoli Agreement, which was the basis of the GRP-MNLF pact.

Well, even if Davao City were included, it would have seen defeat in the plebiscite.

The government should consider seriously the objections being raised by local officials in North Cotabato, Iligan and Zamboanga. Otherwise, it would fan the fire of protests that can lead to more “unpeace” in Mindanao. The peace agreement should be an instrument not just to appease certain sectors, it should bring genuine understanding and cooperation among all the stakeholders in Mindanao.

5:34 a.m.

Update – The Supreme Court issued a stop order for the signing  of the MOA on ancestral domain during its en banc meeting yesterday afternoon. – 6:40 a.m. August 5

New City Engineer

As chair of the Committee on Appointments & Government Reorganization, I sponsored yesterday at the City Council the Concurrence Resolution for the appointment of our new City Engineer.

Mayor Rody Duterte named Engr. Jose Dureza Gestuveo, Jr. as the new head of the our engineering office. His plantilla position is City Government Department Head II that carries Salary Grade 26 with P327,000 pay per annum.

Engr. Gestuveo has degrees in Mechanical Technology, Mechanical and Civil Engineering and Masters in Urban and Regional Planning. He has professional licenses as Mechanical Engineer, Civil Engineer and Master Plumber.

He started his career at the City Engineers’ Office as Field Staff during the early 1980s. When his first cousin, Jesus Dureza, won a seat in Congress in 1987, Engr. Gestuveo joined him at the House of Representatives as a Technical Staff.

After Dureza left Congress, Engr. Gestuveo joined the Davao City Water District where he rose to the position of Department Manager before he accepted the offer of Duterte. (Dureza is now the Press Secretary at Malacanang)

While waiting for his confirmation yesterday, he had the first taste of his big task ahead when members of the City Council deliberated on the application for land reclassification for the Ayala Center project in Davao. The key issues discussed were drainage and traffic management.

His being an urban planner would surely come handy in his new job. The city is fast growing and it needs people who should see it as a forest and not just trees.

6:20 a.m.