Officers of Advocacy for Good Governance (A4GG) is expected to appear before the Provincial Board on July 14 to answer questions pertaining to the controversial launching of the organization which ended with thousands of Palaweño youth starving and sleeping outside the Puerto Princesa City Coliseum.
Board Member Jim Gerald Pe said in a privilege speech during the regular session of the board June 30 that they would look into the matter and invite the officers of A4GG so that they would know who should be responsible for what had happened.
“Our proposal was to invite the officers and organizers of the launching of A4GG for us to know who should be held accountable to the ordeal that happened to the Palaweño youth whom they invited ngunit kanilang ginutom at hindi binigyan ng matutulugan.,” Pe said in an interview with the Palawan Sun.
The board had long planned to invite A4GG since the controversy of the Department of Public Works and Highways second engineering district wherein the organization was pointed as the one behind the revelation of the issue.
A4GG’s accreditation in the Provincial Board was then questioned. However, the board did not invite A4GG to appear before them.
This will be the first time that the board would invite A4GG, according to Pe.
The organization, according to its chairman and national president Atty. Rogelio “Butch” Bagabuyo, aims to introduce reforms in the government especially on graft and corruption. It teaches the youth to be responsible citizens and good leaders in the future, he said.
Pe said that while they respect the group’s advocacy issue, “we cannot just let them do these things to our youth. The provincial board cannot just let it pass that’s why we need to invite the A4GG officers so that we could ask them and if ever, hold them responsible for what had happened to the participants who attended their launching.”
A4GG was accredited by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) last February 2009 but was registered to have an address in Cebu.
Vice-Gov. David Ponce de Leon said that if problems arose, A4GG cannot be charged in Puerto Princesa or in Palawan because of its registered address.
The organization was also accredited for only three months which, according to the vice-governor, lacks the capability to offer scholarship.
Sandwich for dinner
Around 8,000 youths from all over the province attended the two-day launching of A4GG but complained of being starved and having had to sleep at the City Coliseum.
They were only given sandwiches at 11 in the evening of June 28, their supposed first meal for the day. Those who have money bought their own food for lunch and supper.
In a press conference June 29, Bagabuyo apologized for what had happened.
“I know I must apologize for my failings, for my shortcomings. Because I am the national president, I have to take full responsibility and I cannot be pointing fingers to any of my staff. It is simply my failure and for that, I hope people whom I have hurt unintentionally would also have the heart to forgive me,” Bagabuyo expressed, adding that he was “truly sorry” and “did not mean to hurt anybody.”
He also explained that A4GG only allotted P30 per youth for the two-day event but decided to order from a fast food restaurant to make up for the previous day.
Bagabuyo also clarified that he did not promise the youths to be accommodated in any hotel or inn.
“I have personally told all of them and all my coordinators that their accommodation would be in covered courts and in the sports complex,” Bagabuyo said. He added that he instructed his staff to tell the participants to bring their own mats, blankets, and towels.
On June 29, 21 youths were hospitalized after losing consciousness because of hunger and lack of sleep. A4GG, however, shouldered the expenses of those hospitalized.
Youths who attended the launching, mostly from municipalities, said that A4GG promised them a scholarship grant if they become members. Their parents, according to them, allowed them to go to Puerto Princesa because of this.
Bagabuyo, however, denied this, saying that he “never made a statement to that effect.”
“The scholarship will start in 2010-2011 . . . because in accordance with A4GG’s constitution and bylaws, one can only become a full-pledge member after finishing the basic leadership seminar workshop . . . and to make sure that you recruit ten others to become associate members,” he explained. He added that a 10-peso monthly due should also be paid.
‘A4GG is A4GG’
Since A4GG’s birth in Palawan, the organization was constantly linked to businessman Jose Pepito Alvarez or JCA, a confirmed candidate for 2010’s gubernatorial race.
A4GG, however, said that it is a different entity and that Alvarez is only a donor of the organization.
“A4GG is A4GG and JCA is a different personality. These are two different things,” Bagabuyo said.
“In our seminar-workshops, you will see in our certificates the logo of A4GG and the logo of JCA but only because JCA co-sponsors our seminars,” he explained, adding that this may be the reason why people think that A4GG is JCA.
The launching of A4GG, which was done on the birthday of Alvarez, June 29, was supposed to be his gift to Alvarez, Bagabuyo said.
“But I know that I have caused him pain and as a matter of fact, I already asked apology to him. I know that in what we did, nadadamay siya because most of the people don’t believe that A4GG is not JCA,” Bagabuyo told the local media.
Asked for a reaction, Alvarez said that the youths really need help.
“All of them should finish their studies and we will help them,” Alvarez stated.