Mindanao Solons Urge Alvarez Confirmation

Article excerpt

A total of 35 Mindanao congressmen have crossed party lines to issue a strong call to the Commission on Appointments (CA) to speed up the confirmation of Secretary Pantaleon Alvarez of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DoTC).

Led by Reps. Rodolfo Plaza (Lakas, Agusan del Sur), Edelmiro Amante (Lakas, Agusan del Norte), Antonio Floirendo Jr. (Lakas, Davao del Sur), Prospero Pichay Jr. (Lakas, Surigao del Sur), and Leovigildo Banaag (Lakas, Agusan del Norte), the Mindanao lawmakers stressed the need to immediately confirm Alvarez who, they believe, will be instrumental in fast-tracking the development of communications and transportation projects in the South.

The two-page resolution sent to Senate President Franklin M. Drilon, CA chairman, also contained the signatures of noted opposition Reps. Constantino Jaraula (LDP, Cagayan de Oro City), Hussin Amin (LDP, Sulu), Didagen Dilangalen (PMP, Maguindanao), and Celso Lobregat (LDP, Zamboanga City).

Muslim solons were likewise among the Alvarez supporters. The signatories included Deputy Speaker Gerry Salapuddin, Reps. Faysah Dumarpa (PDP-Laban, Lanao del Sur); Abdullah Dimaporo (Lakas, Lanao del Sur), and Guimid Matalam (NPC, Basilan).

In an intereview, Plaza said that aside from members of the Mindanao Legislators Association, they expect various regional organizations of congressmen to express their support to the snowballing move to support Alvarez's immediate confirmation.

According to Plaza, it is for the interest of the nation that government officials who possess the same qualifications as Alvarez be appointed to important positions.

Alvarez's appointment has been bypassed by the CA following the filing of complaints of graft and corruption.

Floirendo said the complaints filed were obviously part of a well-financed and well-organized smear campaign against Alvarez by businessmen who are sour-graping over their failure to clinch the multi-billion peso build-operate-transfer contract for the construction of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3.

In their resolution, Mindanao solons stressed that "it is necessary to appoint a leader" from Mindanao to better address the problems and concerns of people in the South.

"To ensure the equitable distribution of government projects, it is necessary to appoint a leader who understands and is sympathetic to the cause of the people of Mindanao," they said.

They said Mindanao has lagged behind other regions in the country because of the appointement to key government positions of officials who are both unsympathetic to the South and lack knowledge about the problems of Mindanaoans.

They expressed resentment over the seeming lack of concern about Mindanao's development, despite the fact that the region has contributed hugely to the country's economy in terms of exports products.

"The Mindanao Legislators Association believes that Secretary Pantaleon Alvarez is sympathetic to and is knowledgeable on the cause of the Mindanaoans and Mindanao especially in areas where there are underdeveloped communications and transportation facilities," the solon stressed. …