Rep. Rene Lopez Relampagos stood firm in his position amid a raging furor over issues raised on the propriety of renaming the Bohol Island Circumferential Road (BICR) after two distinguished, famous and historical figures.
Vying for the honor are President Carlos P. Garcia (CPG) and former governor and 2nd District Representative Erico Boyles Aumentado (EBA).
Relampagos wrote Vice Governor Dionisio Balite, Sr., Presiding Officer of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) on December 14, 2016 expressing his position on the “need to further honor and preserve the legacy of President Garcia through the renaming of the circumferential road to his name.”
“To make an issue of this would create unnecessary division among the people and is certainly counterproductive”, Relampagos said.
The contents of the letter were read into the records of the SP before the deliberations over the passage of a resolution supporting Relampagos House Bill (HB) 4331 renaming the BICR to President CPG Circumferential Road.
Relampagos, taken aback by the passionate and perceived political partisanship that marred the deliberations on the passing of a Sangguniang Panglalawigan (SP) resolution over the contentious renaming restated “some precedents that precisely support this view of renaming the road to the late president’s name.”
The proverbial politics rearing its ugly head has muddled the issue on naming the 136 – kilometer Bohol Island Circumferential Road amid the passing of an SP resolution by a vote of 7 in favor, 3 against and two abstentions supporting the passage of HB 4331 filed by Relampagos in the 17th Congress on November 9, 2016.
“I filed HB No. 4331 to pay homage to one of Bohol’s most esteemed sons, the late President Garcia, the only Boholano to have held the highest position in the land”, Relampagos wrote in his letter to Balite.
Ironically, the late EBA spearheaded the filing of HB No. 5610 on December 7, 2011 during the 15th Congress to rename the Bohol Circumferential Road to CPG Circumferential Road as a “fitting and proper honor to his memory.”
Aumentado passed away on Christmas day – December 25, 2012 of pneumonia at the age of 72.
Relampagos also underscored the fact that no province-wide recognition has been accorded to CPG except for a municipality, sports complex and and a city avenue.
The late Aumentado paid tribute to CPG distinctive service as congressman, senator, vice president, president of the Philippines and the first president of the 1971 Constitutional Convention.
HB 5610 was also introduced by Relampagos and 3rd District Representative Arthur Yap and was endorsed by the Provincial Development Council (PDC) in resolution no. 11-2011 requesting Congress to rename BCR to Pres. CPG Road.
Meanwhile, a radio survey conducted by the top rated dyRD Inyong Alagad program showed that 86% of the Boholanos are in favor in naming the circumferential road as Erico Aumentado Highway citing the great contribution done by the late governor and congressman in working out the release of the funds for the concreting of the Bohol circumferential road.
Respondents of the survey cited that while CPG is undoubtedly the Boholano who held the highest position in government being elected President of the country, the construction of the road was way after the death of the late Pres. Garcia, thus, he has nothing to do with the major road project here. In fact, there were no road developments done during the incumbency of Garcia as president, the respondents said.
“Aumentado deserves the honor as far as the circumferential road project is concerned,” the respondents chorused during the radio survey conducted last week.
Relampagos stressed that the fulfillment of the dream of Boholanos to develop a world class road network for the economic welfare of the province “was not a monopoly of one person but the result of the joint and continuous efforts of public servants of the province and other government institutions.”
Relampagos recalled that the BCR project was conceptualized at the time of Governor Rolando Butalid under the Bohol Integrated Area Development Plan (BIADP) as a priority project.
Under the administration of Governor Constancio Torralba, the needed feasibility studies were approved by the PDC, Regional Development Council (RDC), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) with funding provided by the Japan Overseas Economic Cooperation Fund.
Relampagos said that under Governor David Tirol, implementation of phase 1 included the roads in the 2nd District which were given priority due to its deteriorating conditions while part of the roads in the 1st and 3rd district were also considered priority areas.
Construction of roads under phase 1 was completed during Relampagos term while phase 2 of the project and the inauguration of the whole circumferential road was accomplished during Aumentado’s term, according to Relampagos.
Relampagos also disclosed that the equity participation of the Philippine Government under the loan agreement was made part of the General Appropriations Act (GAA) through the efforts of then Representatives Venice Agana, Aumentado and Isidro Zarraga.
Relampagos also pointed out that, contrary to some claims, “the only HB filed on the subject is HB 4331 as shown by a certification issued by the Bills and Index Service of the House of Representatives dated December 13, 2016.”
During the December 16, 2016 SP session, 2nd district Board Member (BM) Niño Rey Boniel told the body that HB No. 4673 was filed by former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo renaming the BCR to EBA highway.
In a privilege speech, 2nd district BM Tomas Abapo, Jr. bared that the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP), Bohol Chapter is inclined to support the move to rename the BICR to EBA highway while the Philippine Councilors League (PCL) of the Philippines, Bohol Chapter has passed a resolution in favor of an EBA highway.
BM’s who voted for the renaming of the BCIR to President CPG Highway were 1st district BM’s Venzencio Arcamo, majority floor leader, Abeleon Damalerio and Ricky Masamayor, 3rd district BM’s Kristine Alexei Tutor, Jane Jade Bautista, Elpidio Jala and ABC president Romulo Cepedoza, all under the Liberal Party and administration allies.
Only two BM’s from the 2nd district under Representative Aris Aumentado, son of the late Aumentado – Tomas Abapo, Jr., Dionisio Victor Balite and PCL president Gloria Gementiza.
The two other 2nd BM’s Boniel and Agapito Avenido opted to abstain. (Chito M. Visarra)