By Herbert Vego
WHEN asked for her impression on the new congressman of Antique, Antonio Agapito “AA” Legarda Jr., former Governor Salvacion “Sally” Zaldivar-Perez opted to answer in writing. This writer, therefore, is yielding this space to her narrative:
IN seven months in office, Antique Congressman Antonio Agapito “AA” Legarda Jr. has already made an indelible mark. He has emerged as the second best-performing legislator of Western Visayas, according to a non-commissioned survey by the RP Mission and Development. He shares the honor (90% approval rating) with two other “region sixers” – Raul Tupas of Iloilo’s 5th District and Jose Francisco “Kiko” Benitez of Negros Occidental’s 3rd District.
Rep. Lorenz Defensor (3rd Dist., Iloilo) leads the pack with 92%.
Rep. AA Legarda, younger brother of Senate President Pro-Tempore Loren Legarda, has earned the overwhelming trust and confidence of Antiqueños to vault to second rank despite being a neophyte.
His constituents remember that at the height of typhoon Paeng which eroded the Paliwan Bridge in Laua-an, he quickly organized a relief and rescue team and set up a makeshift bridge within 48 hours, enabling stranded passengers to cross the Paliwan River.
After only seven days, a temporary embankment was constructed, allowing all vehicles to pass through.
Sen. Loren Legarda did her part by defraying a P300-million budget for the reconstruction of the new bridge.
Recently, AA led the ceremonial turnover of the Local Government Support Fund (LGSF) outlay for various towns, kicking off with the town of Libertad which received a P105-million share.
In reaction, Libertad’s Mayor Mary Jean “Bebot” Te cited the “untiring efforts” of the congressman to consult the people on what infrastructure projects to be funded by LGSF.
The town of Barbaza under Mayor Gerry Necor got a P75-million LGSF share for the rehab of the river wall of Dalanas bridge and concreting of farm-to-market roads (FMRs).
The natives of the fishing village of barangay Magtulis embraced him as he was announcing the construction of a seawall and a bridge there.
“These are crucial factors in job-generation and poverty alleviation in the countryside,” he said.
The town of Tibiao under Mayor Klemens “Weng” Bandoja received P149-million to finance the rehabilitation of flood-control structures along the river and the concreting of farm-to-market roads in rice-producing villages.
The congressman, accompanied by Mayor John Lloyd Pacete, spearheaded the celebration of the “Bugas sa Lusong” festival in Bugasong, where they joined the revelers in a “boodle fight” of native delicacies. While there, he announced the construction of a hanging bridge and a multi-purpose hall.
In a chef’s suit, AA tried his hand in mixing flour at the dough-making facility of Sebaste High School in the town of Sebaste, accompanied by Mayor January Padpad and Schools Division Superintendent Feliza Beriong. He also turned over to the municipality a newly-constructed multi-purpose hall.
AA also turned over LGSF funds for FMR projects in the southern towns of Sibalom and Tobias Fornier.
In the capital town of San Jose de Buenavista, Legarda assured Mayor Elmer Plameras of the availability of additional funds for the completion of the international-grade Antique Airport and construction of a convention center and a P5-million multi-purpose hall.
The once moribund airport now hosts three flights a week to and from Manila on extended runway suited for long-haul flights.
By-pass roads are being built to cut travel time to Iloilo.
Resorts are mushrooming, indicating a growing tourism industry.
Antique has never enjoyed such massive infrastructure development since the time of her predecessor and sister Loren, who changed the landscape of the erstwhile underdeveloped province.
Befitting his role as congressman, AA Legarda has filed 154 national and local bills, including an increase in the salaries of teachers and barangay health workers; and conversion of capital towns into component cities.
Once a top executive of a leading food-and-beverage corporation, AA takes time out from hectic work to play golf and score more birdies on weekends. He considers the fairway as a training ground for mental and physical toughness and resilience.
HOPING FOR ‘NO MORE JUMPERS’
MORE Power’s Ma. Cecilia “Maricel” Pe — Asst. Vice President, Customer Care — confirmed to this writer that the distribution utility is now in the process of determining who among the residents of the fire-levelled barangays of West Habog-Habog and San Juan had not registered for electrical connection. She would update us on her findings as soon as possible.
As announced by the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), the fire was “electrical in nature”. It could have spread from a household tapping power illegally with the use of “jumper,” in effect overloading the system.
Sorry, but no less than Mayor Jerry Treñas and MORE Power President Roel Z. Castro have repeatedly warned power consumers against pilferage because it could do more harm than good to them.
O, te, Kuya Quimsing, bombero pa basulon mo?