Akbayan lawmaker appointed caretaker of Dinagat Islands-A A +A
Wednesday, January 2, 2013
MALACANANG on Wednesday distanced itself from the appointment of Akbayan Representative Kaka Bag-ao as caretaker of Dinagat Islands, saying it is “entirely a legislative prerogative.”
Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said it was House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte who designated Bag-ao, who is also from Dinagat, as caretaker of the lone district previously occupied by fugitive Ruben Ecleo Jr.
Ecleo was removed from the congressional roster last year after being convicted of parricide for killing his wife in 2002. He was also found guilty for his role in the irregularities in infrastructure projects in San Jose, Surigao del Norte, where he served as mayor from 1991 to 1994.
“You should ask the Speaker because that’s entirely a legislative prerogative,” said Lacierda when asked regarding the appointment.
“Remember, there was a problem with the province of Dinagat — minsan probinsya, minsan hindi — and, I think last October, the Supreme Court decision became final and executory. As result of that, the Speaker decided to appoint Congresswoman Kaka Bag-ao,” he said.
Lacierda said Ecleo's absence also necessitated the uninterrupted delivery of social services to the province.
The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has released about P140 million worth of Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) covering the years 2011 and 2012 to Dinagat Islands.
Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said the use of funds will be facilitated by Bag-ao, who is a known ally of the Aquino administration.
Some quarters saw the release of funds to Dinagat as “politically motivated.”
But in a statement, Akbayan said the money went to infrastructure projects and social service programs, "all of which were identified through barangay consultations conducted throughout the province."
Among the projects, the party-list said, include P5 million for medical assistance to the Caraga Regional Hospital for indigent patients, P3 million for local orthopedic hospitals’ purchase of barangay medical kits for barangay health workers, P6.5 million for the Surigao State College and Technology, and P 1.5 million worth of scholarship from the Commission on Higher Education (Ched).
The fund also supposedly financed the building of roads, water systems, multi-purpose buildings and sea walls.
Akbayan added they responded to the "urgent request" of barangay officials to provide them with the means to visit their constituents regularly and provide appropriate transportation for emergencies.
The party-list said these releases were all accounted for and reflected in the report submitted to the DBM by Bag-ao's office.
"It is sad that some only see the coming election with the release of the said fund. It doesn’t do justice to the people of Dinagat, who have yet to recover from the devastation of the typhoons even as they endured poverty and underdevelopment without their rightful share of the government’s resources," said Akbayan. (Jill Beltran/Sunnex)