Wednesday, December 5, 2012



Bicol has a total population of 5,109,798 as of 2010 and growing at an average rate of 1.23% annually. It has two major sources of renewable energy, from the BacMan and Tiwi geothermal plants. The total power generated by these plants was 674.54 gigawatt-hours in 2009 while the total power distributed was only 740,509 thousand kilowatt-hours. Moreover, our region has strong potentials for other renewable energy sources.

Electricity consumers in Bicol pay P7-10 per kilowatt hour while consumers in Metro Manila pay only P4-7. A working individual who earns minimum wage here finds it harder to sustain electricity expenses than a student in Manila.

Aside from energy, we have abundant mineral reserves as well, both metallic and non-metallic. In Rapu-Rapu we have gold, copper, silver, zinc and other mineral resources, in Paracale and Aroroy we are rich in gold, in Catanduanes we have coal, in Camarines Sur we have marble, to name a few.

Our region is abundant with agricultural and forestry products such as abaca, coconut, corn, rice, timber, among others. We have abundant fishery resources around the Bicol peninsula. There is strong tourism potential in many areas of each of our six provinces. We had 46% increase in tourist arrivals in 2008 and by 2010 we topped other regions as number one in the country on tourist arrivals. We are surrounded by beaches and islands like the Caramoan peninsula, Calaguas Island in Camarines Norte and pristine waters in Masbate, to name a few. Sorsogon is ever popular of Butanding watching in Donsol.

But reports from the National Economic Development Authority paint a gloomy picture of our region. Bicol remains the fourth poorest in the country based on the economic well-being of individuals. Our region is the second poorest in Luzon, next to MIMAROPA.

Poverty incidence in Region 5 remained high at 51.1% in 2006 and 45.1% in 2009. This 2009 figure translates to about 2,422,267 poor Bicolanos.


The Charter of the Bicol Autonomous Region captures the major principles of the movement. It has six key components: (1) Fiscal Autonomy; (2) Strong Anti-Dynasty Provisions; (3) Strong Anti-Corruption Conditions; (4) More Effective and Efficient Justice System; (5) Principle of Territoriality; and (6) More Adoptive Educational Framework.  

Fiscal autonomy gives regional and local government units the right to retain and enjoy a major part of the region’s income instead of giving the bulk of it to the national government as the present set up dictates.

Strong anti-dynasty provisions do not allow spouses and relatives of incumbent government officials  of up to fourth degree of affinity and consanguinity to be appointed into office.

To institutionalize strong anti-corruption stipulations, the Regional Government will have quarterly reports on the state of affairs   and finances of the region. Three private accounting firms will audit the financial accounts of the Bicol Autonomous Region.

A more effective and efficient justice system will be ensured through the creation of a Regional Appellate Court. Moreover, a Regional Planning and Development Board will be established to give the local government and representatives from all sectors opportunity to participate in the planning and making   decisions for their own good.

The principle of territoriality will be carried out by giving the Regional Autonomous Government the power to control, regulate and supervise the exploitation, utilization and development of the national resources within the Bicol autonomous territory. This is in line with advancing regional patrimony vis-à-vis national patrimony. The principle of territoriality ensures that the communities affected by the different development projects shall have the greater benefits in terms of lower cost and more socio economic benefits.

A more adoptive educational framework should be meaningful, relevant and responsive to the needs of the Bicolanos. The Bicol Autonomous Region shall encourage the publication of textbooks and reference materials in the Bicol language at all levels. It shall promote the use of the Bicol language in national exams particularly, but not limited to,              civil service, NSAT and NCAE.


Presently, the Movement is governed by an organizational structure with a regional convenor and provincial convenors for each of the six provinces.

Representatives of the Bicol Autonomy Movement have been recently invited and attended a hearing sponsored by the Committee on Charter Change of the House of Representatives. The hearing tackled proposed amendments to the 1987 Philippine Constitution related to a federal form of government and possible autonomy of selected regions. The Movement shall primarily work within the framework of the Constitution through   an amendment of Article 10 to   include a Bicol Autonomous Region.

Another possible step shall be to pass a Bill in the Philippine legislature creating the Bicol Autonomous Region. Then a plebiscite shall be conducted throughout the six provinces of the region so that Bicolanos themselves will decide on the issue. 

This is a summary of the roundtable discussion sponsored by the Institute of Politics, Department of Social Sciences and Economics Society last September 25, 2012. The main input was given by Mr. Renne Gumba, Director of the Institute of Politics and Co-Convenor of the Bicol Autonomy Movement. For comments/inquiries, contact Dr. Bernadette Gumba at Local 2013 or 09063877196 or Thank you. 

RTD on EPIRA, Consumer Group, and the CASURECO2 Predicament, August 2012, ADNU

RTD on Scarborough Shoal Issue, July 2012, ADNU

Monday, October 8, 2012

Citizens Participation on Constitutional Reform

The Congressional Committees on Peoples Participation and on Constitutional Amendments (in coordination with the COOP-NATCCO Party List), will conduct the Forum "Citizens Participation on Constitutional Reform" 1:00pm on 9 October at Conference Rooms 14 and 15, Ramon Mitra Hall, House of Representatives, Quezon City.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Some Implications of Atty. Leni Robredo's Candidacy

Atty. Leni Robredo has filed her certificate of candidacy for representative of the 3rd district of Camarines Sur yesterday. The decision was made due to the appeal of supporters and the imperatives of keeping the political team of her husband intact.

Some implications of her entry into the electoral contest:
(1)averted a potentially disadvantageous situation wherein two allies will be running against each other;
(2)effected the fielding of a candidate against two Villafuertes on the provincial level;
(3)provided a much needed opportunity for the ruling LP to consolidate its forces on the provincial level.

But to my mind, the greatest promise of Atty. Robredo's candidacy is the potential of limiting, if not totally dismantling, the dynastic rule of the Villafuertes in the locality. It should be noted that this influential family has fielded candidates for governor and congressmen. The emergence of a credible and capable challengers provide the voters with an opportunity for better choices.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Flashpoints revisited

Almost a month ago, I wrote in this blog about two potential flashpoints for the LP team in Naga City. First is the choice of candidates for the city officials, and the second is the selection of candidate for congressman of the 3rd district of Camarines Sur.

The LP line  up of candidates for city officials is almost done. Atty. Miles Raquid-Arroyo, PB Elmer Baldemoro, and .former city councilor Hon. William Del Rosario have completed the roster of candidates. The only remaining issue is the rumored withdrawal from the race of one incumbent councilor.

The more precarious situation is the selection of candidate for Congressman. Atty. Cadiz has filed for candidacy yesterday as independent. VM Bordado is expected to file his candidacy anytime tomorrow. Thus it may be a three-way struggle among these two contenders and Mrs. villafuerte, wife of incumbent Cong. Villafuerte. This  predicament is perceived to be grossly disadvantageous to the LP campaign in the district.

What remains to be seen now is how Atty. Robredo, the LP leader in the province, will intervene in this situation. A primary consideration for her intervention may be the fact that inspite of having candidates in almost all districts of the province, LP wasnt able to set up as of this time a line up of candidates for the provincial level. The top post in the province will be contested by Cong. Villafuerte and his grandson, Migs.

Rumors has it that an influential politician is moving around peddling stories against the Robredos or directly courting disillusioned allies of LP team in Naga City. Interesting. Maybe the right question now will be: "Who is afraid of Leni Robredo?"

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Friends, check Philippine Daily Inquirer issue today, Across the Nation, page 17. Join us on October 3, Wednesday at Gateway Suites, Gateway Mall, Araneta Center, Quezon City.

RSVP to Jake Riel Ogana by calling (63 2) 920-2920 or (63 2) 426-6001 loc 4644 or emailing


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Ubos kun ubos...

At least two names have recently surfaced to become part of the LP team in Naga City: Atty. Miles Raquid-Arroyo and Punong Barangay Elmer Baldemoro. Atty Miles was a three-term councilor of the city. PB Baldemoro is a multi-awarded barangay captain of Concepcion Grande, Naga City.

It seems the tandem of Atty. John Bongat and Atty. Nelson Legacion is slowly but steadily fortifying a winning ticket that will hopefully ensure the phenomenon "ubos kun ubos, gabos kun gabos" pioneered by former Mayor and SILG Jesse Robredo. They are one or two names short of completing the line up. If this will be settled well, the remaining issue will be the congressional candidate for the 3rd District of Camarines Sur.

The political opponents, on the other hand, is closely monitoring developments. Among the emerging strategy is the fielding of "targeted" candidates for councilors, fielding a specific candidate against a specific incumbent official if only to deprive the LP team of the "ubos kun ubos" slate.

Some names emerging as potential challengers of incumbent councilors are Mrs. Badette Roco, a former city councilor; Dr. Jess Albeus, former Punong Barangay of Tabuco, Naga City; Atty. Anlu Carpio, a practicing lawyer; and and Atty. Adan Botor who previously run for mayor of Naga City in the 2010 elections. 

As the date for filing of candidacy draws nearer, I am sure more names will emerge. Let us wait and see.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Flashpoints for 2013!

Naga City Mayor John Bongat and the local LP team has resolved at least one thorny issue: the team's candidate for the city's vice-mayor will be incumbent councilor Atty. Nelson Legacion. Unfortunately, there are at least two more flashpoints that needs to be addressed immediately (as in prior to the filing of candidacy on October 1-5):

(1)Congressional candidate -  as of now, it continues to be a toss up between incumbent Naga City Vice-Mayor Gabby Bordado and former Solicitor General Atty. Joel Cadiz. VM Bordado is a veteran of local politics serving as councilor and vice mayor for several terms. Atty. Cadiz on the other hand is a seasoned litigator, having been a practicing lawyer in the locality and in Metro Manila. Both are supposedly close friends of the late SILG Jeese Robredo.

(2)Candidates for City Councilor - until now, the list of candidates for city councilor has not been finalized. Names of potential candidates, including former city councilors, and endorsements are cropping up left and right. The Liga ng mga Barangay has endorsed at least two from among their ranks.

These two flashpoints will be a major factor in the electoral performance of the local LP team. Their decision on the congressional candidate will determine whether the Villafuerte camp will be effectively challenged in the 2013 election. The group's decision on the line up for city councilors will also weight heavily on the predicament of "ubos kun ubos, gabos kun gabos" campaign.