>> Sunday, April 27, 2008
By Dexter A. See
BONTOC, Mountain Province – House Speaker Prospero Nograles appointed first-term Kalinga Rep. Manuel S. Agyao as the caretaker of the congressional post of this province which was vacated by the demise of veteran lawmaker Victor S. Dominguez last Feb. 8.
Nograles appointed Agyao even as some politicians in the province endorsed Baguio City Rep. Mauricio G. Domogan as caretaker of the vacant congressional post for over two months now.
The House Speaker stood firm on the existing rules and regulations adapted in the appointment of caretakers whereby the lawmaker with the same political affiliation and which is the closest in terms of the geographical location to the province would be named as the temporary caretaker.
Dominguez succumbed to cardiac arrest with complications of diabetes at age 72 last Feb. 8 at the Capitol Medical Center in Quezon City.
He was serving his eighth term in Congress tracing back to the Batasan Pambansa during the martial law years.
Agyao is a member of the Kabalikat ng Mamamayang Pilipino (KAMPI) in the Cordillera which was chaired by the late Mountain province lawmaker.
The appointment of Agyao as the caretaker of Mountain Province also stopped misinformation being circulated by several interest groups that the House Speaker is inclined to appoint Domogan because it is the desire of local officials to have him as the overseer of the province.
According to Nograles, Agyao, a former Assistant Secretary and regional director of the Department of Public Works and Highways, is competent in managing the affairs of the vacant congressional post in the province, citing his experience at the DPWH and that there is no doubt that he will strongly advocate for the welfare of the two provinces which he will represent in the House of Representatives.
Both Domogan and Agyao issued earlier statements they will support whoever between them will be chosen as the caretaker of the vacated Mountain province congressional position.
Mountain province is considered to be the luckiest province in the Cordillera since it is the beneficiary of most flagship project commitments of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, particularly phases two and three of the Halsema highway rehabilitation project, the Bontoc-Tabuk-Tuguegarao road and the Cervantes-Sabangan secondary arterial road.
Undersecretary Josephine de Castro-Dominguez of the Presidential Legislative Liaison office, who is the widow of the late congressman, welcomed the appointment of Agyao as caretaker for Mountain province, saying they respect the decision of the House leadership on the matter.
The Palace aide said the demise of her husband should serve as an eye opener for the people of the province especially on the numerous hard and soft projects he has initiated for the benefit of the people.
For his part, Agyao vowed to visit the province and conduct series of consultations with the different stakeholders to pursue the legacy and the projects left behind by Rep. Dominguez, especially the free tertiary education for students enrolled at the Mountain province State Polytechnic College among others.