Kusog Bikolandia fortifies region’s fight for prosperity

LEGAZPI CITY—Bicolanos and others who identify with the region can now pin their hopes on Kusog Bikolandia, a new regional political party borne out of the hope to cater to the interests and needs of the Bicolano people.

In an interview with the Bicol Standard, Founding Member Noel de Luna said Kusog Bikolandia is grounded on the efforts of people from a common territory and culture to consolidate their political vision and aspirations.

Formed on July 5, 2018 in a special assembly held in Pasay City, the Kusog Bikolandia team resolved to participate in the May 13, 2019 midterm elections and other electoral exercises.

De Luna explained: “We wanted to give a voice to Bicolanos, whose needs and interests are often relegated to the margins.”

“It is high time that a regional political party which genuinely represents Bicolanos emerges in the political arena,” he added.

Also comprising the list of officers are:

Atty. Jorge Sarmiento – President; Former Post Master General; Former President of PAGCOR; Former USEC of DICT; Atty. Robert Rafael Lucila – Executive Vide President; Current head of Legal Department of GMA Network, Inc.; Former Deputy Executive Secretary of Malacanang; Redencion De Leoz, Jr. – Secretary General; Former Presidential Management Staff Program Head; Flor B. Azotea – Executive Treasurer; Jose B. Perez – Vice President for Sectoral Affairs; Editor-in-Chief, Bicol Mail; Atty. Steve Resari – Executive Director; Vice President for Albay; Atty. Felix Brazil – Vice President for Camarines Sur; Juan Escandor, Jr. - Vice President for Sorsogon/Masbate; Febes B. Rada - Vice President for Camarines Norte; and Fred Gianan – Vice President for Catanduanes

Not part of partylist system

Addressing questions on the nature of Kusog Bikolandia as a regional political party, Atty. Jorge Sarmiento clarified that “it is not part of the partylist system.”

“While the latter forms sectoral groups that primarily seek to promote sectoral interests and enhance representation, particularly among the marginalized and the underrepresented sectors in the corridors of power such as the House of Representatives, we, as a regional political party, advance our distinct political identity and ideology for Bikol progress and growth, just like the Pundok Kauswagan or Partido Panaghiusa in Cebu, the Partido Magdalo in Cavite, and the Hugpong Pagbabago in Davao.”

Sarmiento added: “Although we may be focused more on local or domestic interests and confined to a smaller territory, we possess as much rights and privileges as a full-fledged political party just like PDP-Laban, Nacionalista Party, Nationalist People’s Coalition, Liberal Party, and others, whose reason for existence is guaranteed by our Philippine Constitution.”

“As an agenda-based political aggrupation, Kusog Bikolandia focuses its attention on concerns affecting the Bicol region. Its fundamental beliefs reflect the prevailing regional culture. We gather our strength and draw inspiration from our own people, such that we are independent and separate from other traditional national political parties but may enter into tactical alliances with other interest groups based on principle and commonality on regional aspiration and priorities.

Furthermore, he stated: “We, in the KB, subscribe to a Supreme Being who orchestrates all things in the universe. We agree to protect Nature which is the very basis of the survival and extinction of every living being in this planet.”

Kusog Bikolandia’s core values

Sarmiento said that to widen the perspective of development, Kusog Bikolandia believes that the patriotic sense of the party is indispensable requirement for us to serve the common good and interest of Bicol, the fellowmen and family, by endeavoring to be self-reliant.

“We espouse developmental values, participative governance and local government autonomy without sacrificing our nationalism.”

Social equality

Kusog Bikolandia as a political party also champions genuine social equality.

“Majority of Bikolanos need to have access to basic needs like health services, education, livelihood and emergency assistance, pension, shelter and job creation through tourism development. We shall also endeavor to institutionalize political reforms by developing and training potential regional and sectoral leaders, with emphasis on youth, who will nurture Filipino and Bikolano traits, values, and morality in public office,” he explained.