Bukidnon’s Central Mindanao Newswatch now on Twitter!

Bukidnon’s longest running regularly published newspaper Central Mindanao Newswatch is now on Twitter!

Follow the once a week newspaper at BukidnonNews and get the “Tweets from Bukidnon” micro blogging updates.

Write to the paper’s editor or manager at cmnewswatch@yahoo.com for subscription of the weekly printed issue .

Enjoy tweeting!

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Zubiri eyes exodus to LP

The Liberal Party tandem of senators Benigno Aquino III and Manuel “Mar” Roxas  topped the  survey conducted by Gov. Jose Ma. R. Zubiri Jr. among elected officials in mock polls in the province’s three congressional districts this week.

In caucuses held at the BRCI compound in Manolo Fortich on November 3, at the Folk Arts Theater in Malaybalay City on November 4, and at the Municipal Gym in Maramag on November 5, Zubiri asked mayors, vice mayors, municipal and city councilors, and barangay captains in the districts to cast via secret balloting their choice for President, Vice President, and district representative.

In all three gatherings, the LP tandem led the mock polls.

Zubiri requested an embargo of the poll figures although he obliged MindaNews  to release the ranking.  He said they want to put it on hold until the mass oath-taking of  politicians in the province to the Liberal Party at a still undisclosed date.

In the first district, where LP senatorial contender and former Rep. Nereus Acosta is based, Aquino led the survey with Defense Sec. Gilbert Teodoro a poor second, followed by Sen. Manuel Villar, and ousted President Joseph Estrada and Sen. Francis Escudero tying for the fourth place.

Roxas led among the vice presidential contenders, followed by Sen. Loren Legarda, who also was a poor second like Teodoro. Legard was followed by Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay and Vice President Noli de Castro. Read on at MindaNews.com.

Noynoy, Mar in Bukidnon

noynoy in maramagLiberal Party stalwarts Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III and Sen. Manuel “Mar” Roxas visited Bukidnon on September 26.

They visited several locations including the foot bath in Lorega, Kitaotao; Quezon, Maramag, and Malaybalay.

Aquino and Roxas were supposed to be on a four-province six-city swing since Friday, visiting Davao del Norte, Bukidnon, Misamis Oriental and Lanao del Norte  and the six cities therein.

But Aquino cut short his Mindanao visit, opting to take the early Sunday morning flight back to Manila to help mobilize support for the victims of Typhoon Ondoy.

While in Bukidnon, Aquino asked those who handed him coin banks and jars intended to be used for his campaign to instead use it for the flood victims. The crowd agreed to his plan, as MindaNews’ Carolyn Arguillas reported Sunday. Read her full report here.

(Liberal Party presidential standard bearer Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino is surrounded by supporters as he entered the bus terminal in the town of Maramag, Bukidnon Saturday. Aquino and running mate Sen. Manuel “Mar” Roxas are on a four-province, six-city Mindanao visit since Friday. Photo by Froilan Gallardo)

Malaybalay opens controversial new public market

The City Government of Malaybalay opened its controversial new public market on September 18 with simple rites amid uncertainties whether the two other phases of the P225-million project would push through.

A few food stalls have since operated in the public market as the city government has campaigned for occupants to the new public market, opened around two years late of its target opening of November 2007.

Malaybalay City Mayor Florencio T. Flores told MindaNews on September 4 the city government would open the market within the month of September following the expiration of a nine-month extension given to contractor H.R. Lopez Co. Inc. But only the first of the two-level public market building was operational.

The public market project has been subject to heavy criticism by the public on comments aired over radio station DXDB. Flores challenged his detractors to go to court if they have proof that indeed money changed hands in the project. He also broke his silence on the allegations the city government hired a contractor that ended up subcontracting the project to another firm. Read more of this at MindaNews.com.

On corruption charges in Malaybalay City public market project

(First published at MindaNews.com)  Malaybalay City Mayor Florencio T. Flores Jr. challenged his detractors over the controversial P225-million public market complex in Barangay 9 to go to court if they have proof that indeed money changed hands in the project.

The mayor has responded to allegations aired over radio station DXDB that the delayed three-phase infrastructure project has been marred by corruption.

Flores also broke his silence on the allegations the city government hired a contractor that ended up subcontracting the project to another firm.

“It’s for them to settle. We did not deal with a subcontractor,” the mayor said. He added that the supposed subcontracted firm, Dreamworks, Inc., who tried to collect payment from the city government, has stopped doing so.

But Flores said they are seriously evaluating the capacity of contractor H.R. Lopez Co., Inc. whether they are able to finish the whole project.

“Extending the project (for another term with the contractor) is no longer an option,” he said.

The 540-day project was initially scheduled for completion in November 2007 but the project has been fraught with doubts of the contractor’s capacity and problems over payment scheme.

As of now, the firm is completing only the first phase, the public market. The integrated terminal and commercial complex phases have yet to be done.

Flores said for the remaining two phases, they will have to pick from only two options: to rebid or for the City Engineer’s Office to take over. He has been mum about possible legal action against the contractor.

Sources said the city government has allegedly sacrificed its other functions because of the delay in the completion of the project. A source said City Hall has used funds for other expenses to pay the amortization of the loan it acquired for the project.

The public market, an economic enterprise unit, is said to be self sustaining. Proceeds of the operations of the three buildings would be used to pay the loan.

Flores denied this, saying the money used to pay contractors is taken only from the loan acquired with Land Bank of the Philippines. He said city government allotted regular budget for the amortization.

The mayor said they have planned to open the public market within the month of September.

In the past, other city officials said the market would be opened in time for the parochial fiesta in May, then in July, and this time from the mayor himself, “within the month”.

He admitted, however, that the original design of the building has been modified to meet adjustments.

“It’s only the ground floor that’s being completed,” he told this reporter in the sidelines of a provincial government affair with Australian Ambassador Rod Smith for the memorandum of arrangement signing of the Provincial Road Management Facility Grant.

In March, Flores told this reporter they were leaving it to the City Legal Office to study the right move after the City Engineer’s Office certified that the firm, H.R. Lopez Co., Inc., had not finished the project despite the nine-month extension.

The firm is supposed to finish within the extended time the whole project, including the integrated terminal and the commercial complex adjacent to the public market.

Based on the slippage alone, Flores said, the city government could already take action against the firm.

Vice Mayor Ignacio W. Zubiri shared the mayor’s position but stressed there should be amicable settlement.

The project was first extended from February to July 2007. In July 2007, the Commission on Audit’s Legal and Adjudication Sector considered the contract void, a decision which the firm appealed in September that year.

Construction was stopped in September 2007, according to city engineer Teodocio Pabillaran, but H.R. Lopez Co. said they stopped in November 2007.

On July 3, 2008, the COA Legal and Adjudication Sector declared no legal impediments to the validity of the contract, prompting the firm to request for the nine-month extension since “they are ready to complete the balance of work.”

Flores endorsed the request on August 1, 2008 to the city council, which approved the extension three months later, on October 21. But councilors noted that the firm resumed construction on August 15, or prior to the approval.

Zubiri said then that the P250-million loan acquired for the project will incur interest only when money is withdrawn. He said rules might allow another extension if the firm asked for it.

“But I prefer termination,” he said.

The SONA and the nation

Gloria-Macapagal-ArroyoCome July 27, Monday, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo once again speaks to Filipinos in her 2009 State of the Nation Address (SONA).

Logically, this is her last before the Constitution (the unchanged one of 1987) forces her to step down on June 30, 2010.

There are reports indicating Arroyo will use the SONA to express a direction for moves for charter change.

Hopefully, the next President delivers his or her first SONA in July 2010, to open Congress for a new era.

The SONA is one solemn event in the strictest sense. It is one occasion when we cease to become just people from Bukidnon, Bohol, Isabela, Cotabato, or Batanes. We become a people from one nation looking at our present collective situation.

The SONA for all its worth, nuances, controversies is a report card. Somehow just as the report card our children show us every grading period.

Basically the SONA is the national government’s, not just the President’s report card of performance.  But since the President is chief executive, command responsibility dictates we look at her for accountability.

The President has a duty to give the nation a real report. Not a fantastic imagination of dreams but an actual grasp of real achievements of targets, goals, missions, and above all a vision.

A SONA should be presented and viewed thru a framework: the realization of plans, the solution of problems, and the preparation for anticipated challenges.

Some people say since the SONA is a report of achievements it naturally blurs on the bottlenecks, unaccomplished, and if not failures.

In a way, the SONA should touch on very pressing issues and situations in the country like the peace process in Mindanao. The President should go beyond the hype of this as award-winning journalist Patricio Diaz said in his column.

But somehow, the SONA is like a balance sheet – a report of financial condition of an organization. It should show the assets, liabilities, and the net worth.

More than the figures, the SONA should be a sincere and forthright account of reality. It should not only inform, but convince, and inspire.

Whether Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was able to do that in her past eight SONAs and if vows to reflect in this SONA come Monday afternoon, will tell us enough whether people would still listen and deem it important.

Already, a newspaper in the US has expressed in an editorial on July 26 that the President is unwanted in her visit to the White House this week. The paper called a “mistake” President Barack Obama’s choice of Arroyo as first S.E. Asian leader to pay a state visit in his administration.

Nevertheless, the SONA is an opportunity to gather as a nation, reflect as a person, and plan as organized individuals to learn from lessons and make resolutions.

Among many, every Filipino, rich or poor; at home or abroad; who cares for Arroyo or not, should use this time to discern who to choose and what should we look for in a chief executive, head of state, and national symbol of leadership. (Based on the Editorial of Bukidnon’s Central Mindanao Newswatch/July 23 to 29, 2009 issue)

Trying Beat Blogging

It has been a while since I last posted an entry in this platform.

I take now that the period of absence could be considered a cleansing time in order to refine work.

After the absence and some plans cooked up, I’m returning to blogging with a new twist. There should be no earthshaking changes, only a sharper focus.

I’m trying to advance a step ahead in my intention to expand the usefulness of my journalism.

I am inclined to convert Bukidnon Our Home into a beat blog, (what a journalist’s blog should be.) In this case, I continue both my journalistic endeavors and my blogging experience. What is a beat blog? Find out more here.

How will this happen?

I will continue posting materials on Bukidnon here but I want to limit it to the general topics under “Economy””Governance” and “Politics”.

These three themes are still broad. They are however inter-related that I want to try to make this a “beat” to report about, and blog about here.

I plan to fuse traditional reporting skills, new media, and social networking to generate not just attention and feedback but productive and useful interaction. In short I aspire to build an online community.

With this mix, blogging becomes a tool for the improvement of my reportage.

Meanwhile, I will continue to publish my two other active blog sites: www.istambay.wordpress.com (Peace and Development in Mindanao) and www.campusjournalist.wordpress.com (Campus Journalism in Mindanao).   I planned to evolve them into more focused sites as I progress in this new blogging experiment.

Others think blogging will make a reporter less of a journalist. But with the right skills, intention, and understanding, beat blogging could help improve the skills and span of work of reporters. How? Try reading this.

The possibility that reporters lose credibility if they blog is still there. But there is a way to do it. We don’t have to lose face as we gain interaction. We can make blogging useful in journalism.

This experiment on beat blogging is about that.