A Day of Infamy for Philippine Democracy

THE entire community of journalists in Misamis Occidental expresses our outrage over the gruesome fate suffered by our colleagues who were reportedly part of a group of some 50 people massacred in Maguindanao on Monday, November 23, 2009.

Some 20 of our colleagues were merely covering what should have been the filing of a certificate of candidacy of an aspirant for Maguindanao governor. It was just horrible that in the course of doing their work, they also become secondary targets, if not collateral damage, in the clash of people gunning for control of political power.

Such a highly abominable act of slaughtering scores of innocent people should be utterly condemned in the strongest sense. It is a conduct not befitting civilized society.

Suffrage is a Constitutionally-guaranteed right of everyone that provides the underpinnings of elections as a democratic exercise. Press freedom, which is equally sanctioned by the Constitution, guarantees unhampered chronicling of the travails of this political activity through the news media.

But last Monday’s Maguindanao carnage showed how brute force was employed to replace civilized and dynamic interaction in the political and social communication platforms in order to maintain hegemonic dominance over local fiefdoms. No doubt, this practice is further undermining the state of democracy which is still fragile throughout the country, and a seeming failure in Maguindanao.

By the sheer brutality of the incident, we will forever consider this date a day of infamy for Philippine democracy.

We demand justice and full responsibility by the perpetrators no matter who they are. We ask the government to do a no-nonsense probe into the incident and bring those responsible before the bar of justice.

Chair NUJP-OZamiz City

IFJ Calls for Urgent Action over Massacre of Philippine Journalists

The IFJ has called for the international community to intervene to demand a full investigation to bring to justice those responsible for the biggest single massacre of working journalists in recent history.

The IFJ call came after at least twelve journalists were murdered when a political convoy of over 36 persons was ambushed and slaughtered by gunmen in the Maguindanao province of Southern Philippines.

“This is an event which shocks journalists around the world to the core,’ said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. “We need a strong and urgent response from the Philippine government and the international community.”

The political convoy was led by Genalyn Tiamzon-Mangudadatu, who was on her way to file her husband’s nomination as a candidate for the forthcoming election for governor of Maguindanao province. Journalists were part of the convoy along with several members of her family.

The convoy was ambushed Monday morning by around 100 armed men, who took them to a remote location before massacring them all. Most were shot; some were beheaded and driven over by vehicles.

According to the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) among the victims were at least 12 journalists covering the political development who were accompanying the political convoy.

This is the darkest day in the history of journalism in the Philippines, which, outside of Iraq, has topped the tables of countries where journalists are most at risk in recent years.

Tangub city prepares for the 5th heritage, culture week celebration

TANGUB CITY: Now on its 5th year heritage and culture week celebration, Tangub city government through the Tangub City Historical Commission (TCHC) has lined-up activities starting November 28 to December 4, 2009.

With this year’s theme, “Ang Kaalam sa Katigulangan, Gabayan sa Kabatan-onan,” the historical commission focuses mainly on instilling the importance of the historical past and culture of Tangub city to the youth.

In an effort to come up with special presentations and a memorable week, Narcisa A. Naron, General Commissioner, TCHC, together with Judith Tablan, General Secretary, and Prof. Emilio Pascual, Commission Consultant, designed and prepared activities that would capture and showcase the totality of the whole affair.

On its first day, is the cultural extravaganza, a grand salute to the outgoing City Mayor Jennifer Wee-Tan for her contribution to the city’s developments for the past nine (9) years.

On the 29th, is the annual Grand Bayle, the Tangubanons way of giving respect to the senior citizens of the city. Attire is Filipiniana and Barong Tagalog.

Balak Competitions will be competed among students from various elementary and secondary schools of Tangub on November 30. Non-students or any participants resided in Tangub have its own category for the same competition.

On the same day, an oratorical contest will also be done between students from Gov. Alfonso D. Tan College (GADTC) and Northwestern Mindanao State College (NMSC). The competitions will be aired live over DXJT Radyo ng Bayan with simulcast over a cable TV.

On December 1, the 17th edition of the Christmas Symbols Festival will be opened with its annual fireworks display. All Christmas symbols will be officially lighted, which is expected to draw thousands of spectators.

On December 2, is the “Tigi Sa Kaalam,” an academic competition on the history of Tangub City. Participants are from elementary and secondary students of Department of education (DepEd), Tangub Division. This competition is also the output of the museum viewing conducted by the Historical Commission in the last five (5) months.

On December 3, the city will be having its history day. Activities included are unveiling of municipal and city mayors framed pictures at the Aspiracion Hall. In the afternoon, a massive museum orientation and viewing among government employees will be conducted.

Folk dance competition will cap the week-long activities on December 4. This will be participated in by elementary, secondary and tertiary students of Tangub. (Richly A. Tagbacaula, Tangub City)

President Arroyo declares November 27, 28 as non-working holidays

ISLAMIC City of Marawi– To mark the celebration of Eid’l Adha, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has declared November 27 (Friday) and November 28 (Saturday) as non-working holidays in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) per Presidential Proclamation No. 1808-A.

Eid’l Adha or the Feast of Sacrifice is one of the holiest Islamic holidays as it commemorates the

During this day, Muslims in every part of the globe will troop to mosque early morning to start the celebration with a congregation prayer.

The Office on Muslim Affairs (OMA) said the observance of Eid’l Adha is a recognized legal Muslim holiday as mandated by Presidential Decree No. 1083 otherwise known as the Code of Muslim Personal Laws of the Philippines. (Apipa P. Bagumbaran / PIA-Marawi City)

Mindanao Week of Peace kicks off on November 26

ISLAMIC City of Marawi– The annual Mindanao Week of Peace which aims to raise peace consciousness and promote people’s participation in building a culture of peace will again be unfolded this year from November 26 to December 2.

The weeklong celebration is in line with Presidential Proclamation No. 127 which declares the last Thursday of November up to the first Wednesday of December every year as the Mindanao Week of Peace.

The proclamation also enjoins and encourages all concerned government agencies and instrumentalities including government owned and controlled corporations as well as members of the private sector and civil society based in Mindanao to engage in relevant and meaningful activities in celebration of the week of peace in coordination with the Bishops-Ulama Conference of the Philippines.

This year’s celebration is bannered on the theme, “Think Mindanao, Feel Mindanao, Bring Peace to Mindanao” which stressed that needs and aspirations for a lasting peace in Mindanao must influence the individual thoughts and feelings of every Mindanaons.

Here in the city, an interfaith forum will be conducted to jointly highlight the Mindanao Week of Peace and Eid’l Adha (Feast of Sacrifice) celebrations.

With the theme, “Sacrifice as the Key to Peace and National Reconciliation,” the forum is a collaborative effort of the Ulama League of the Philippines (ULP) and the Mindanao State University – King Faisal Center for Islamic, Arabic and Asian Studies (MSU-KFCIAAS). (Apipa P. Bagumbaran / PIA-Marawi City)

Now is not the time to run for the presidency – Chiz

OPPOSITION Sen. Chiz Escudero yesterday declared that it is not time for him to run for the presidency but vowed at the same time that he would continue his fight for good governance.

“Napagpasyahan ko, na hindi tumakbo bilang pangulo sa darating na halalan. Napagpasyahan ko na hindi man bilang kandidato, ako’y may papel na pwedeng gampanan bilang Pilipino at ordinaryong botante sa panahong ito,” the 40-year old lawmaker said in a speech at Club Filipino.

“Napagpasyahan ko na hindi lang ngayon ang panahon para matupad ang pinanghahawakan kong pangarap at layunin kong panguluhan nang hindi nakatali. Patuloy kang panghahawakan ang pangarap at pangakong iyan. Hindi man ngayon kundi sa darating na panahon,” he said.

Escudero announced his decision almost a month after he resigned from the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) so he could freely make up his mind without any other interest and agenda in mind but his hopes and dreams for the country.

“I’ve always said that for me, it’s the presidency but not at all cost. Not at the cost of losing my soul, not at the cost of losing myself, not at the cost by being eaten up by the system and the process and certainly not at the cost of not being able to do the things that I was and set out to do,” he told a crowd of supporters and allies.

Escudero, who has been among the frontrunners in the latest presidential surveys, said he had consulted with family, close friends, and supporters on his plans for the 2010 polls.

“Hindi ko rin kayang gawin ang dapat at gusto kong gawin at kung makakain lamang ako ng sistema. Para sa akin, hamon itong dapat tingnan ng lahat na ng unang nagdeklara, sila ba’y nakain na ng sistema o hindi pa, sa daan tungo sa panguluhan,” said Escudero.

“Sila ba ay kaya pa ring gawin ang lahat ng pinangako sa atin na magaganda at matatamis habang nangangampanya. Hindi ko makokonsensyang sabihin ‘yan kung hindi ko rin lang kayang gawin kung ako ay pagtitiwalaan niyo. Dahil po sa lahat ng nabanggit ko, akala ko’y madali pero hindi,” he said.

Escudero thanked his supporters for their trust and confidence and vowed to continue his fight for a “new Philippines” in the days ahead.

Palace will help Z Gorres

MALACANANG vowed to extend all necessary assistance to International Boxing Federation (IBF) super flyweight champion Z “The Dream” Gorres, who met an accident after winning the non-title fight against Luis Melendez on Saturday night in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Press Secretary Cerge Remonde told a media briefing in the New Executive Building in Malacanang on Tuesday that the Palace would extend all the help and assistance the Gorres’ family needed.

He said that like pound-for-pound boxing icon Manny Pacquiao, Gorres was also one of the pride of the country.

”The government is willing to give him (Gorres) any assistance that he deserve which is in accordance of law and definitely we want to take care of them because we want to produce more Manny Pacquiao in the future,” Remonde said.

Gorres, who hails from Dumaguete City, is now in stable condition after undergoing a brain surgery due to internal hemorrhage when he received a lucky punch from his opponent in the 10th and final round of their match last Saturday.

Gorres was immediately rushed to University Medical Center in Las Vegas after their fight. Gorres won against Melendez.

Remonde assured the Gorres’ family of the government’s assistance they will need.

Meanwhile, Remonde also said that the Palace was coordinating with the Philippine Sport Commission (PSC) for the preparation of giving Pacquiao a “heroes welcome” when he arrives on Friday.

Remonde said that Pacquiao was now considered one of the great boxers in the world after snatching his 7th title in defeating Miguel Cotto.

PGMA orders DepEd to fund classroom construction

BGY. MANUALI, Porac, Pampanga :President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Tuesday instructed Education Secretary Jesli Lapus to provide funding for the construction of a two-classroom school building here.

The Chief Executive issued the instruction during a site inspection for the new school building. She also told the Lapus to source personnel who would work as teachers from this remote village.

In an interview, Lapus said that funds were readily available for the construction of the school building.

He said the P1.2-million needed to put up the two classrooms would be processed so that construction could start immediately.

The classrooms, measuring 7x7 meters each, would soon provide a suitable learning venue for elementary school students.

Also joining the President were DepEd Region III Director Mario Ramirez and local government officials led by Pampanga Rep. Carmelo Lazatin, CORD 3 Ed Pamintuan, Presidential Management Staff Director General Hermogenes Esperon and Manuali Barangay Captain Fernando de Leon.

Palace to ask Atienza’s explanation on Mindoro mining project

MALACAÑANG will ask Environment Secretary Lito Atienza to explain his decision allowing a big mining project to be put up in Mindoro despite the 25-year mining moratorium in the province.

In a press briefing on Tuesday morning, Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said the President will ask Atienza to justify the issuance of an ECC (Environmental Compliance Certificate) by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ (DENR) to a Norwegian-based company to mine 11,000 hectares of public land in Mindoro.

Government officials of Mindoro have complained that the project would displace around 20,000 residents mostly Mangyans. The officials claimed the mining project would affect agriculture and threaten forest conservation areas, where tamaraws roam and in nearby Puerto Galera, a favorite tourist destination.

The officials are also asking DENR to respect the 25-year mining moratorium in the province.

When asked if Atienza’s action violates the policy of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in environment conservation and protection, Remonde said the government needs to strike a balance between development and the protection of environment. That’s why, he added, the palace would ask Atienza to explain himself.

It’s Villar-Legarda tandem for 2010

MANDALUYONG CITY—The tandem of Nacionalista Party (NP) presidential bet Sen. Manny Villar and Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) vice-presidential hopeful Sen. Loren Legarda has been officially sealed, following their long-awaited announcement at the historic Laurel House in Shaw Boulevard, Mandaluyong City.

On his vice-presidential pick, Villar said, “Our team-up is founded on and solidified by our common advocacies such as poverty alleviation, climate change mitigation and environment rehabilitation, and protection of our migrant workers which we have been passionately pursuing.”

“It is Sen. Loren Legarda who best complements and represents my ideals and visions for the country and our people who long to get up from the twin scourge of poverty and calamities,” Villar said.

Villar, whose edge among presidential aspirants is his managerial skills developed from hard work and perseverance amid poverty, is a known advocate of overseas Filipino workers’ (OFWs) rights. He has repatriated and assisted 754 distressed OFWs, mostly from the Middle East, since last year. Villar started his OFW advocacy 30 years ago, while still in the private sector.

At the same time, the NP president continues to focus on combating climate change, initiating tree-planting projects, river clean-up drives, and other environmental endeavors. He has planted over one million trees.

Likewise, Legarda is a known environmentalist who was recently appointed by the United Nations as champion of disaster risk reduction in the Asia-Pacific region. She is also the founder of the Luntiang Pilipinas Foundation which advocates environmental awareness. Through the years, the foundation has supervised the construction of forest parks and the planting of two million trees nationwide.

Legarda is acknowledged to be the only woman in history who has placed number one in two senatorial elections, in 1998 and again in 2007. She is also the first woman who became majority floor leader of the Philippine Senate.

The lady senator believes that among all the candidates eyeing the presidency, Villar is the only one who possesses the leadership and management skills necessary in mitigating poverty and addressing the needs of the Filipino people.

Chiz to comelec : be honest with Filipino people

OPPOSITION Sen. Chiz Escudero yesterday asked the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to be honest and transparent with the Filipino people and say once and for all if the planned automation of the May 2010 polls can still be undertaken.

“It is the Comelec’s obligation to be honest with the people and tell us if the May 2010 poll automation can still be implemented. Speculations are rife again that the Comelec will not be able to pull it off and the feared confusion come May 2010 may lead to a failure of elections,” Escudero said.

“Kaya ba o hindi? Uubra ba o hindi? Kung kakayanin, ipaliwanag at sagutin ang mga duda sa automation. Kung hindi, aminin ngayon pa lang at gumawa ng mga alternatibong mga plano upang masiguro ang mapayapang pagsasagawa ng halalan sa May 2010,” he said.
Lawyer Harry Roque, Jr. and nine other petitioners filed a supplemental motion for recommendation with the Supreme Court last week over “relevant supervening events” that included:

• The alleged inability of Comelec, Smartmatic International and TIM to comply with the automation contract because of their failure to provide telecommunications facilities that will assure 100 percent communications coverage at all times during the May 2010 polls;
• The move by Smartmatic and TIM to resort to subcontracting for the manufacture of the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines, which has now been subcontracted to a Chinese company called Quisdi after it was first subcontracted to Taiwanese supplier Jarl-Tech. This, the petitioners said, violated the Comelec’s own bidding rules as well as RA 9184;
“Time and time again, I have welcomed full automation of our electoral process. But we must deliberately calibrate its implementation in accordance with the law, and taking into consideration current developments,” Escudero said.

The opposition senator warned that the Comelec could find itself with a bigger “Mega-Pacific” scandal in its hands if it chooses to pursue poll automation under questionable circumstances.
The co-chairman of the Committee on Oversight on the Automated Election System stressed the need to “learn from the Mega-Pacific deal and make sure that we will not waste the people's money because of our desire to have automation for automation's sake.”

“We cannot and should not gamble with automation if it will not be ready by May 2010 because this is tantamount to gambling with our nation’s future,” Escudero said.

“The Comelec should realize that unless it adheres closely to the laws of the land relative to the automation of the May 2010 polls, it will defeat the very purpose of automation in the first place – to conduct honest elections and allow the true sentiments of the nation to be heard,” he added.

Gun amnesty posts 219 loose firearms in Lanao Sur

MARAWI CITY: The Final General Firearms Amnesty (FGFA) of the government posted some 219 loose firearms in the province of Lanao del Sur.

Police Superintendent Esmael Pua Ali of the Provincial Police Office revealed that they have processed 142 new firearms registration and 77 firearms license renewal.

The FGFA is the government’s intensified campaign against loose firearms.

Under EO 817, the Philippine National Police (PNP) is mandated to implement the FGFA and conduct continuing and intensified law enforcement actions to confiscate and seize all loose firearms.

The Provincial Director also disclosed that the amnesty period has been extended through EO 817-A in recognition of the public’s request for more time to register their firearms.

He said the original period was only from October 1-31 but it was extended until November 30 of this year.

Under EO 187-A, individual and juridical entities may register their unregistered firearms and/or renew their expired firearms licenses with the PNP during the extension period.

The Implementing Rules and Regulations issued by the PNP Chief to carry-out EO 817 is the same in EO 817-A. (Apipa P. Bagumbaran / PIA-Marawi City)

Chiz : genuine land reform can improve lives of poor farmers

OPPOSITION Sen. Chiz Escudero yesterday urged government to implement true agrarian reform to enable landless farmers to live decently, improve their income and provide proper education and nutrition to their families.

Of the country’s estimated labor force of 36 million, close to 40 percent are directly and indirectly engaged in agriculture.

“The lack of political will on the part of this administration to redistribute land in rural areas, and its inability to provide basic farming resources has kept farmers poor and stymied production,” he added.

Escudero stressed that a continuing situation such as this, where farmers are mired in poverty, could lead to a repetition of the Nov. 16, 2004 labor protest over workers’ benefits and wages at Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac.

The incident resulted in the death of seven peasants who were shot dead by a combined force of police and military personnel who tried to enforce an order from the Department of Labor to assume jurisdiction over the strike.

Data from the Department of Agriculture show that farm output growth in the second quarter of 2009 missed targets.

It was also the slowest in four years at .87 percent and was markedly lower than the 5.4 percent recorded during the same period a year ago.

“Lack of opportunities in rural areas has only led to the inequitable distribution of or limited access to resources. And until this is addressed, many farmers will continue to wallow in poverty,” Escudero stressed.

Villar files resolution honoring Pacquiao

SEN. Manny Villar today filed a resolution commending Manny Pacquiao for winning over Puerto Rican boxer Miguel Cotto during the “Firepower” boxing match held in Las Vegas last Sunday.

“Pacquiao brings great pride and inspires all Filipinos to excel in their undertakings to achieve success and world recognition even during challenging times,” Villar said.

Proposed Senate Resolution No. 1466 said Pacquiao’s technical knockout triumph over Cotto made him not only the world’s best pound-for-pound fighter today but also the first fighter to win world titles in seven divisions.

There are no safe firecrackers or fireworks—DOH

THE Department of Health (DOH) today strongly advised parents not to allow children to use firecrackers or fireworks whether of the legal or illegal kind.

“These devices are not toys and are very dangerous, especially in the hands of innocent children,” Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III said. “We recommend a ban on the use of these devices in residential areas and encourage local authorities to designate an area where fireworks could be lighted, displayed and handled by professionals or those who are trained in using explosive devices,” he added.

Health authorities said that the top 5 firecrackers that caused the most injuries in 2008 were (1) piccolo, (2) kwitis, (3) 5-star, (4) luces and (5) home-made or altered firecrackers.
“Piccolo, an illegal firecracker, continued to be the number one cause of injury during the last holiday season and it did not only cause minor injuries but also severe ones like the ruptured eyeball of a boy in Bicol,” Duque disclosed.

He explained that the public should always be cautious and not to regard the legal fireworks as safe because Kwitis and Luces, both legal fireworks, were No. 2 and No. 4 in the list.
“The seemingly harmless Luces can burn up to 1093 ºC (2000 ºF) or 10 times the boiling point of water,” Duque said.

Duque also disclosed that the top 5 Firecrackers causing “Blast Burn with Amputation” were (1) Home-made or Altered Firecrackers, (2) 5-star, (3) camara, (4) rebentador, (5) and whistle bomb.

DOH records show that Watusi, long considered as illegal, continued to sneak in the market and caused two cases of injuries this year. The youngest case was a 9-month old girl from Tondo, Manila who was left unattended in the house by her parents while an elder sibling played with Watusi. She was brought to the Philippine General Hospital for treatment.

The second case was a 31 year-old male from Rodriguez, Rizal with a history of psychiatric treatment. He allegedly ingested 2 boxes of Watusi. He was brought to East Avenue Medical Center for treatment. Both patients survived.

Health authorities said that there is also a significant increase in the number of stray bullet incidents caused by the indiscriminate firing of guns. These were reported in the two regions in Mindanao with no previous records.

Chiz to gov’t: clean up your act

OPPOSITION Sen. Chiz Escudero yesterday reminded government to resolve hundreds of cases of human rights violations that have cropped up in the last eight years, particularly now that the Anti-Torture Bill (Republic Act 9745) has been signed into law.

“This development is a significant milestone in our efforts to address this country’s human rights violations, particularly the use of torture by agents of government,” the 40-year-old lawmaker stressed.

Numerous cause-oriented groups and organizations have documented hundreds of cases where members of left-leaning political groups and the clergy as well as outspoken activists and journalists were either kidnapped or killed since the Arroyo administration took power in 2001. More than 1,000 cases of torture have also been recorded.

Escudero added that his colleagues in the House of Representatives and the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights, as well as human rights and people’s organizations also played an important part in having the bill made into law.

He noted that for years, the bill languished in the legislative mill despite the fact that the Philippines was a signatory of the United Nations Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

“The enactment of R.A. 9745 is a concrete step towards fulfilling our commitment to an agreement we signed over two decades ago. More importantly, this law now gives our people another shield against human rights abuses.”

Escudero said that from the dawn of Martial Law to this very day, many Filipinos have suffered because of their political beliefs.

“Under this administration alone, political activists have been tortured and have had to seek the protection of our courts against these abuses. With this new law on their side, the hope is that this will pave the way for the conviction and imprisonment of their perpetrators, and discourage those planning to use it,” he emphasized.

Vice-Mayor Isko Moreno joins Villar’s NP

MANILA Vice-Mayor Francisco “Isko” Moreno drew the line on his allegiance and took his oath as the latest member of Nacionalista Party (NP) headed by Sen. Manny Villar.

The reelectionist Moreno, president of the local party Asenso Manileño, made the move following the announcement of his tandem with Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim at the Bonifacio Shrine. The vice-mayor attended only the local proclamation and distanced himself from the declaration of support to Liberal Party’s national bets earlier.

“Iba at mabigat ang usaping pampanguluhan,” Moreno stressed, “Nakasalalay dito ang patutunguhan ng ating bayan at mamamayan. Naniniwala akong si Sen. Manny Villar ang nagtataglay ng katangi-tanging kakayanang mamuno, sapagkat alam niya ang pakiramdam ng kumakalam na sikmura ng mga mahihirap nating kababayan bilang nakaahon at nagtagumpay dito.”

The vice-mayor, like Villar, was born to poverty in the slums of Tondo, scavenging for food and livelihood until he became an actor and later on a political figure.

Moreno said Asenso Manileño will forge a formal alliance with NP, committing grassroots support in Manila for Villar.

Villar said, “We welcome Vice-Mayor Isko Moreno as a strong pillar and partner in our advocacy against poverty as our common roots.”

NP has reached its 2,000-membership mark for incumbent officials as more joined alongside the vice-mayor, including Parañaque first district Rep. Eduardo Zialcita, erstwhile Lakas-CMD deputy spokesman; Apayao Gov. Elias Bulut Sr.; Aurora Vice-Gov. Gerardo Noveras; vice-mayors from Luzon; and councilors from the National Capital Region.

The latest NP oathtakers at the Laurel House in Mandaluyong numbered over 200.

Governor Bulut, also from Lakas-Kampi-CMD, was a former Calanasan mayor before he served the Apayao people for nine years in the House of Representatives.

Known as the “Father of Apayao”, then Congressman Bulut was the one who fought for the separation of Kalinga-Apayao into two distinct provinces. In 1995, Republic Act 7878 formalized Apayao and Kalinga as two separate Philippine provinces. Apayao now has a voting population of more than 60,000.

The oathtakers followed in the footsteps of Camarines Sur Gov. Luis Raymund “LRay” Villafuerte Jr., national chairman of the League of Provinces of the Philippines; Surigao del Norte Gov. Robert Ace Barbers; Davao del Sur Gov. Douglas “Dodo” Cagas; Biliran Gov. Rogelio “Roger” Espina; Cagayan Vice-Governors Leonides “Odi” Fausto; Laguna Vice-Gov. Ramil Hernandez; Ilocos Norte Vice-Gov. Windell Chua; and Quirino Vice-Gov. Pasencia Bacani, who recently defected to NP.

Villar is also set to administer the oath to about 150 incumbent and aspiring leaders from Lanao.