Panlilio bids goodbye

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    CITY OF SAN FERNANDO – Gov. Eddie Panlilio officially bid capitol employees here farewell, expressing confidence of being admitted by Catholic church authorities back to full priesthood while reserving the option – with the permission of his religious superiors – for any possible role in the administration of incoming Pres. Aquino.

    “I really do not closely know Pres. Noynoy, but I suppose I can still perform a role that would be suited to my being priest in case church authorities restore my full priesthood,” said Panlilio who got a standing ovation from some 200 capitol employees before and after his final report of accomplishments during his three-year administration.

    He said, however, that there had been so far no offer to him from the Aquino camp. Candidates in the last elections are barred from holding government office until a year after the polls.

    This, even as he cited “dignity” as his landmark legacy to the provincial government. “We succeeded in curbing corruption and adopting a policy of real transparency,” he said in an interview before delivering his much applauded farewell and accomplishment speech at the Benigno Aquino Hall at the capitol grounds here.

    “We have proven it is possible for a governor to assume post poor and leave the post poor. I did not benefit a single centavo from my post,” he said.

    Panlilio had been credited for raising revenues from lahar sand quarrying from a mere P10 million a year during the time of his predecessors to P200 million annually. As of yesterday, the Panlilio administration has raised some P615 million from quarry operations over the past three years.

    Panlilio’s priesthood was suspended when he decided to run as independent candidate in the 2007 gubernatorial elections in this province.

    When he decided to run for reelection in the last May polls as official candidate of the Liberal Party, Panlilio filed a petition for dispensation from priesthood as a condition imposed by his religious superiors. He sought a withdrawal of this after he lost to Lilia Pineda, candidate of Lakas-Kampi-CMD.

    Earlier, his superior Archbishop Paciano Aniceto said Panlilio’s petition had already reached the Vatican for adjudication, but Panlilio expressed confidence this would be sidestepped and that his priestly powers would be restored within this year.    

    Panlilio said that in the meantime, he would remain active in a civil society group called Talete King Panyulung Kapampangan, a civil society group helping Kapampangans with livelihood ventures.

    Asked whether he had any regrets in entering politics, Panlilio replied: “I didn’t regret a single moment. It has been a happy, rewarding experience.”

    He said his decision to run for governor was based on “a personal conviction”.

    Prodded for an advice to the next president, he urged Aquino “to listen to the people but decide based on personal convictions.”

    During his speech, Panlilio cited accomplishments, including projects worth P58.5 million for public health, P35-million health insurance for 48,883 folk and, P72.4 million worth of medical assistance for 30,000 families.

    Panlilio also said his administration spent P45.86 million for government hospital upgrading or construction, P22 million for more medical equipment, and P28.6 million for medicines. These, on top of P775.5 million operational expenses for these hospitals.

    In coordination with the League of Filipino Foundations of the Holy Angel University, the provincial government educational program also upgraded the general achievement level of elementary school pupils in the province from 57 to 75.

    Panlilio also noted that his administration sustained supplemental feeding program in various elementary schools in the province, spending some P36.92 million for this. This is on top of P53.89 million for scholarship benefits for 11,289 students.

    The Panlilio administration also assisted farmers in agricultural projects worth P67.4 million up to last year, with another P26.6 million allocated for this year.

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