SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews / 29 June) – Dinagat lone district representative-elect lawyer Arlene “Kaka” J. Bag-ao, who gained fame by defeating one member of the well-entrenched Ecleo family, will take her oath on July 3, her birthday, before a barangay chairman in her hometown.
Bag-ao, who spoke during induction ceremonies of the Rotary Club of Surigao City held at the Philippine Gateway Hotel here, said her move is to silence her political opponents who accused her of not being a resident of Dinagat.
She revealed she will be sworn in by Annie Morales, barangay chair of Sta. Cruz in Loreto town, where she resides and casts her vote every election.
“Yes, I am not a resident of Dinagat town but I’m a resident of Loreto,” she laughed.
The province of Dinagat is composed of seven municipalities, one of which is also named Dinagat. Its capital is San Jose; the rest of the municipalities are Libjo, Cagdianao, Loreto, Basilisa and Tubajon.
Bag-ao said she invited officials of the different government line agencies during her oath taking and will take the opportunity to get to know them and discuss important matters relating to government services for the next three years.
“One of the important targets is to strengthen the provincial offices because right now, most of the provincial offices are not functioning well. Others have personnel while others have none,” she said.
She said aside from government employees, NGOs, some congressmen, justices, representatives of basic sector organizations, among others, will be coming for the occasion.
Bag-ao will be turning 44 on July 3. She said it will be a day of solidarity at the same time a celebration for change in Dinagat.
Before being elected into office, Bag-ao was appointed as legislative liaison officer or caretaker for the lone district of Dinagat because the previously elected representative, Ruben Ecleo Jr., was dismissed for being a fugitive, having been convicted of graft and for the murder of his wife, Alona Bacolod-Ecleo.
Before being appointed caretaker, Bag-ao was second representative of the partylist Anakbayan.
She spent her earlier years as an alternative lawyer, helping farmers, fisherfolks, indigenous peoples, women and other marginalized sectors in Mindanao.
Bag-ao has earned the moniker the “Dragon Slayer” after she defeated outgoing Dinagat town mayor Gwendolyn B. Ecleo, who is a daughter of governor-elect Glenda B. Ecleo of the province and sister of Ruben Ecleo Jr.
In Kidapawan City, North Cotabato Governor Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza led the mass oath taking of the reelected and newly-elected officials in a ceremony held at the capitol provincial gymnasium.
The event was witnessed by the mayors of the 17 towns of North Cotabato, heads of agencies of government, barangay officials, business sector, leaders of non-government organizations and people’s organization and supporters.
The ceremony begun with a holy mass officiated by Kidapawan Diocese Bishop Romulo dela Cruz, DD with thousands in attendance.
In his homily, Bishop dela Cruz put emphasis on the relationship and connection of the government and the church. (Roel N. Catoto / MindaNews)