Ex-general requests Capitol’s help with island attraction

DAANBANTAYAN Mayor Vicente Loot visited Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale last Friday to pledge his support for the administration, as well as seek Magpale’s help in developing Malapascua Island.

“He pledged that his priorities will be aligned with the governor’s priorities,” said Magpale, when asked about Loot’s visit.

Magpale, in turn, assured her support for the town, adding that if Daanbantayan submits the Malapascua Development Plan, funds can be appropriated for it in the 2017 budget.

It was not known whether the conversation also included the retired police general’s being named by President Rodrigo Duterte as one of five past and current police officials allegedly protecting the illegal drug trade.

Loot has already denied the allegation.

He is serving his first term as mayor, replacing Augusto Corro, who is a party mate of the present local administration under Gov. Hilario Davide III. Corro, in turn, had replaced former mayor Maria Luisa Loot, the current mayor’s wife. Her term ended last 2013.

Magpale told the newly elected mayor that last year, the Province’s eco-tourism program had appropriated P16 million for the development of some tourism sites. These were the river in Tabuelan; Aguinid Falls in Samboan; and Kanlaob River that flows through Alegria and leads to the waterfalls in Badian, site of a popular canyoneering tourism attraction.

Magpale said there had been allocations for Malapascua’s development during the previous administrations, but these were not fully implemented.

Malapascua or Barangay Logon is an island 2.5 kilometers long by one kilometer wide. Its white shoreline is lined with resorts offering accommodations at various rates. There is no road in Malapascua for four-wheel vehicles, only trails for motorcycles.

In 2006, the Capitol and the Daanbantayan Municipal Government signed an agreement that placed the Provincial Government in the lead in implementing the Malapascua Island Ecotourism Development Plan.

In July 2014, Logon Barangay Captain Rex Novabos, an ally of PB Member Sun Shimura, asked for the governor’s help in implementing that plan. (Shimura is Loot’s stepson.)

The following month, August, the Provincial Board (PB) adopted a resolution giving P5 million to the Daanbantayan Municipal Government for the construction of a multi-purpose building in Malapascua.

The governor tasked Corro, a political ally, to implement the project.

PB Member Shimura asked that the funds be given directly to Barangay Logon and that the Capitol oversee the implementation of the project.

Magpale also told Loot that when his wife was mayor, the administration under then governor Gwen Garcia had formulated the Malapascua Development Plan. But the two officials had some differences, and some of the projects were not implemented.

They eventually reconciled, but shortly after that, Davide began his first term as governor. Corro also began his three-year term as mayor after the May 2013 elections. He lost to Loot this year by seven votes.

Karon, ako siyang giingnan, ‘Maybe we can work together and really kanang honest-to-goodness nga wa na’y politika bitaw’ (I told him now, ‘Maybe we can work together, honest-to-goodness, without politics’),” Magpale recalled telling Loot during his visit.

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