As the term of President Rodrigo Duterte winds down, he said that he regrets not able to visit the Cordilleras and blamed the Philippine Security Guards for stopping him.
He said that was unable to meet officials of the region and personally get from them what they require in bettering their locality in terms of governance or provide support in delivering good service to their constituents.
“Ayaw akong payagan (They don’t allow me [to travel]),” he told Cordillera leaders through phone during the signing of the memorandum of agreement of Cordillera leaders with Converge with the latter providing internet connections in the region.
In a 25 minute rambling typical of the Philippine president, he told Benguet Gov. Melchor Diclas, Mountain Province Gov. Bonifacio Lacwasan and mayor Benjamin Magalong that he should have travelled to the region and converse to them but for the PSG who refuse to allow him due to the threat of Covid-19.
It was legal counsel and secretary Salvador Panelo who called the president, who is home in Davao, just as the supposed one hour ceremony was about to start and through the former presidential spokesman’s phone relayed his message.
He also told local leaders that included Tabuk mayor Darwin Estranero, Tadian, Mountain Province Tito Masweng and Sagada, Mountain Province mayor James Pooten to tell Panel what they need and include it in the 2022 budget which is now being deliberated by both chambers of Congress.
Panelo then interrupted the president saying that he already received the local government unit leaders of their request and has been forwarded to the government agencies of concern.
He even offered the presidential discretionary fund to be at the disposal of the Cordillera leaders saying that he has already allocated PhP300 million to support frontline health care workers. Medical workers have complained that they have not received their benefits as promised for their sacrifices including working long hours.
Panelo also assured that he has been informed by LGU leaders of their support to the president.
Penlo actually brokered the inclusion of the whole region in Converge’s coverage that provide 133,001 connections in the six province and the city of Baguio.
Converge has 38,760 connections in Baguio and 21,704 in Benguet.
Converge is set to start Phase 1on the last quarter of this year and first a quarter of next year to provide connectivities in Sablan, Tuba, Itogon, Tublay, Atok, Buguias and Mankayan, six towns in Mountain province, four towns in Kalinga and four municipalities in Abra.
More than 300 participants to the MOA signing get to listen and watch Panelo’s MTV You Are the Love of My Life at least twice which has been on Youtube for two weeks and has some 5,200 viewers.