Rolando "Boy" Bonoan on Palawan News' The Profile.

Rolando “Boy” Bonoan, former board member and Palawan’s first-ever Provincial Information Officer (PIO), is confident in his bid to return to capitol despite the surrounding controversies that have surrounded his candidacy.

A long-time government employee and public servant, Bonoan said he is reintroducing himself as the “leader of the new generation” by running as vice governor.

“Nakaka-relate naman ako sa kasalukuyang kalakaran, mga pangangailangan ng pamunuan sa pamahalaan, at the same time, hindi naman siguro nagkakalayo pa yong edad ko sa edad ng mga kabataan ngayon,” Bonoan said in Palawan News’ The Profile.

Bonoan recalled his nearly two-decade long career, starting with his days with the late Governor Salvador “Badong” Socrates and the foundation of the PIO.

He then served as 2nd District Board Member for one term, followed by a failed bid for Vice Governor. Despite his limited time as an elected official, Bonoan believes he can bring his experience in both executive and legislative branches to the table should he be successful in his second attempt as vice governor in the coming May 9 elections.

“May pagkakaiba pagdating doon sa focus ng trabaho. Pero sa klase ng ginagawa mo, sa araw-araw, pareho lang silang serbisyo sa bayan. Except that, pag nasa executive branch, like noong nasa PIO ako, mayroon kaming routine work na ginagawa. As a board member, you are tasked to come up with ordinances at kinakailangan mong suriin ang mga programa at proyekto ng pamahalaang panlalawigan,” he explained.

“Having an extensive experience sa executive branch, plus a good experience sa legislative branch, though I only served one term, you can look at the records that during the three years I had in the provincial board, napakarami ng mga makabuluhang mga ordinansa at resolusyon na naipasa,” he added.

However, his current run is not without the usual controversies. In 2018, the Court of Appeals released a decision stating that he, along with 17 other provincial government employees were disqualified perpetually to work in government. Bonoan said he is unfazed by the decision, adding that these were filed by his political opponents, whom he declined to name.

“Yong asuntong yan sa ngayon ay nasa Korte Supre na. Meron kaming petition for review doon. Yong asuntong yon naman, alam naman nating lahat na yan ay politically-motivated. Fi-nile lang talaga yan just to get rid of us,” he explained.

“In fact, some of the counts have already been taken away. Ngayon, they filed a petition before the COMELEC for misrepresentation.

Unfortunately, ang mga nag-file ay mga empleyado ng provincial government. Inutusan daw sila, yan ang sabi nila. Nagugulat nga ako kasi ang mga nag-file ay mga taga-liblib na barangay sa Aborlan, pero yong mga abogado nila taga-Manila. Dala-dalawa pa,” he added.

Bonoan added that the petition was dismissed by the COMELEC 2nd Division, stating that he did not commit misrepresentation. Hence, he believes that he is qualified to take another shot for the vice governor position.

“I believe I am qualified. Second, I am the better choice. Third, with my experience in both chambers of local government, mas magiging maganda ang panunungkulan. Lastly, I have the hear for it,” he added.

Mining issues

Bonoan also affirmed his anti-mining stance, stating that it is not true that during former governor Reyes’ time, when he was still PIO, mining companies were rampantly given permits to operate all over southern Palawan. He stated that these companies were already established before his term, and vowed that if he should be elected, he will still maintain his anti-mining stance.

“Maliit pa lang ako, nariyan na sila. Yong iba naman, dahil in-open ng national government ang ating industriya ng pagmimina, so, kung sila ay nag-qualify,” he explained

He also lamented the allegedly rampant reclassification of Environmentally-Critical Areas Network (ECAN) zones to allow resource extraction in otherwise protected forests all over the province.

“Ngayon, itatanong ko sa current administration, bakit ang mga dating declared as core zones, in-open nila for mining ngayon? Balita ko ang Mt. Bulanjao, in-open nila. For a long time mga past governors pinrotekahan ang Bulanjao because it is part of the core zone. Pero ano ang ginawa nila, pina-amend nila ang ECAN map ng lugar para mawala siya sa core zone,” he said.

“May ordinances pa tayo na for example, yong identification, delineation, and management of all the watershed areas in the province, meron tayong ordinansang yan. Hindi ko lang bakit hindi nila ini-implement,” he added.

Bonoan’s plans for Palawan

Bonoan believes that despite the current administration’s numerous projects particularly in infrastructure, do not truly address the needs of the people. He said he wants to strengthen Palawan’s tourism industry, primarily by strengthening the local tourism councils. He also wants to focus on health-related issues, since these became rampant during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the issues in the live fish industry especially in the south.

He explained that his slogan, “Ibalik ang Dating Sigla ng Palawan,” aims to provide basic services and necessities for the poorest in the province.

“Noong araw, ang mga Palawenyo ay kahit hindi mo mabibigay lahat ng mga pangangailangan nila, pero kuntento sila sa buhay. Masaya sila dahil ang mga programa ay malapit sa kanilang puso. Masaya sila dahil natutugunan ng gobyerno ang kanilang mga pangangailangan,” he added.