GAME CHANGER | Atty. Israelito P. Torreon: Davao del Surs’s New Hope

The lawyer is running for governor of Davao del Sur.
The lawyer is running for governor of Davao del Sur.

A Bansalan-born lawyer is following the footsteps of the late Ramon Delos Cientos, the first governor of Davao del Sur.

 

Atty. Israelito “Bobbet” P. Torreon is running as one of the five governor candidates in this progressive province of Davao. Those who want to vote for him should shade No. 4 in the ballot.

 

The four other candidates are Dolson Aldog, Yvonne Cagas, Carl Jason Rama, and Daylen Villamor. Among these five candidates, Atty. Torreon seems to be the dark horse.

“The challenges are almost insurmountable, what with lack of organization and money,” he says. “But with the Supreme Being, hard work and perseverance, everything is doable for we are here on earth not to linger in every nook and cranny but to strive hard so that we may all become instruments in making our world a better place to live in.”

But what if he destined to be the next governor of the province? “I think I have prepared my entire life for (becoming a governor),” he says. “What I lack admittedly would be an efficient organization that can convert awareness into actual votes. While I also have a little money, it may not be enough to sustain a rigorous and costly campaign.”

In one of his rallies, he says it never crossed his mind to run as governor of Davao del Sur. But the untimely passing of Atty. Douglas Ra. Cagas made him think otherwise. He admits that there is a need for a new leadership in the province.

“There are realities that I have to contend with but I’m finding ways to overcome them. I just really feel that there is a vacuum of responsible, decent and competent leadership in our province. Somebody competent has to step up knowing the enormous responsibilities that await the governorship,” he says.

Atty. Torreon cites the Mandanas ruling which will be implemented this year, hence enormous funding would flow into the local government units (LGUs).

“Such, however, brings concomitant responsibilities knowing that under the Magna Carta of the Poor (a new law), the LGUs are mandated to craft development plans as to how to respond to the rights of the poor to decent food, decent shelter and decent life. That would be an awesome responsibility that cannot be handled by anyone.”

Atty. Torreon has several plans for the province of Davao del Sur should he become the governor.

“I would implement a wholistic approach towards answering the need to respond to severe poverty while not neglecting the small businesses that need to thrive especially in this time of pandemic,” he says.

“I would identify the poorest of the poor and make sure that they can avail the skills training program that would help them acquire the needed skills to earn a decent living,” he continues.

The government’s Technical Vocational Education Training (TVET) program, he says, should be used to the maximum so it can train them, including the unschooled youth, mothers and those who desire to have more in life.

“I would maximize the training programs and assistance from the Cooperative Development Authority so we can create cooperatives for the poor, the youths, mothers and all national and provincial livelihood programs would be channeled through this scheme,” Atty. Torreon says. “This is the best way because in collectively, accountability is easily tracked.”

Atty. Torreon also believes that government, especially in times of pandemic and calamities, should be the stimulus for business. “Hence the provision under the Local Government Code empowering LGUs to create local economic enterprises should be maximized.

“If plans to invite investors to create processing centers would not be successful, then the provincial government should lead the way towards the establishment of these processing centers into coco oil and soaps.  Our cacaos would be processed into world-class chocolates and the like,” he says.

Aside from his work, he also cherishes his family.
Aside from his work, he also cherishes his family.

“The PPP (Public Private Partnership) option under the build operate and transfer law would likewise be an option,” he continues. “A provincial PPP office can be created so that it can facilitate the establishment of enterprises for development in partnership with the government.”

Another project Atty. Torreon would like to do, should he become a governor, is to build modernized ports in Malalag and Santa Cruz. “I likewise believe that the provincial government should be the catalyst for big-ticket projects that can bring real benefits to the constituents,” he explains.

He thinks the modernized seaports in the aforementioned towns “can bring direct and incidental benefits to the people.  Ports have always been known to be the spark plugs of progress of any society, hence, even if belated already it is now high time to make a big push for these to happen.”

These are just some of his plans although he has several others in mind. All these, he believes, could be accomplished if the other members of his team would be elected, too.

Running as board members of the First District are Atty. Julius Rizada, Marla Almendras, Sherwin Villapaz, and Ruben Canada. In the Second District, the following are running for board members: Erick John Cabuslay, Johnny Aguhar, Flordeliz Matas, and Helen Pinter.

“My team and I will pursue projects and programs that will enable to elevate the standard of living of our poor constituents,” Atty. Torreon says. “Pakusgan namo ang dagan sa ekonomiya pinaagi sa pagbalik sa kwarta nga gikan sa katawhan ngadto sa katawhan.”

The Team Torreon, as he calls his group, also will implement Sections 34, 35 and 36 of the Local Government Code, which states the local government units has the power to do local economic enterprise (LEE) so that productivity and income of the people will increase.

“Through the LEE concept, the provincial government shall now source the fertilizer and agricultural input needs of the farmers, distribute them evenly but payable on future income basis,” he explains.

According to Atty. Torreon, the provincial government or through cooperative or people’s organization system “shall then buy their products and market them in Manila and other urban centers similar to the concept adopted by then Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol. A massive agricultural educational campaign shall be undertaken in order to impart to the farmers the latest agricultural technologies such as solar energy system for irrigation needs.”

When Atty. Israelito Torreon was invited as a speaker during the Women's Month.
When Atty. Israelito Torreon was invited as a speaker during the Women’s Month.

Regarding PPP, he says the team will also sign a contract between private hospitals and municipalities which are somewhat far from Digos City like Malalag, Sulop, Bansalan, Magsaysay, Matan-ao and Santa Cruz.

Aron nga ang mga masakiton nianing nga mga lugar nga lisod makaadto sa Digos mamahimong matambalan dayon sa mga partner nga mga pribadong hospital,” Atty. Torreon says.

In addition, he wants to hire more doctors and nurses for the Davao del Sur Provincial Hospital – aside from increasing its hospital beds. “We will copy the Davao del Norte concept where senior citizens who cannot afford to pay their bills get treated by showing only their senior citizens ID and they are free of payment of hospital bills, medicines and the like,” he says.

“We will likewise implement a pro-active and community policing system (as opposed to reactive policing system) by integrating the Barangay Tanods as force multipliers of the police training them properly to become first-hand source of intelligence information direct from the books and crannies of the province. The province will likewise find a way to professionalize them by giving them proper training and augmenting their monthly allowance.”

Another program his team wants to do is to transform the province into an eco-agritourism center by improving the advances made by previous leaders like building cable cars and world class facilities in the magnificent mountain ranges of Colonsabac, Matan-ao; Balutakay, Bansalan; and Kapatagan, Digos City while integrating the beautiful beaches of Sta. Cruz into the entire plan.

“We will maximize the potentials of our pristine waterfalls and rivers in Matan-ao and Bansalan and integrate the same into the wholistic eco-agricoutirm center vision of the provinice,” Atty. Torreon points out.

He also wants to copy what the Makati government is doing. “Nga kung tigulang nga mag-birthday, nay magharana sa ilaha ug regalohan ug birthday cake pero pakapinan nato ug bugas, tambal ug grocery,” he says.

The boy from Bansalan, Davao del Sur has gone a long, long way; he is now one of the finest and most in-demand lawyers in Davao City and other parts of the country. The eldest son of Carlos Torreon and Thelma Pañares – both school teachers – he struggled his way up, however.  Although he grew up in a middle-class family, he had the will to succeed, and a brilliant mind.

Bobbet attended Bansalan Central Elementary School and finished his secondary course at Nazareth High School.  He attended the University of the Philippines – Visayas for his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. In all those endeavors, he garnered honorific awards and assumed leadership in studentry.

He finished his law at the Ateneo de Davao University. He finally became a full-fledged lawyer on May 6, 1998. He pursued Masters of Law at San Beda University and qualified for a scholarship for Masters in International Humanitarian Law in Nalsar University in India. Likewise, he finished Introduction to US Laws, Systems and Methods in George Washington University in Washington, D.C. through the Institute of US Laws.

When he was 36, he became the president of the Davao del Sur chapter of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP). He was considered the youngest lawyer to hold such office in the province.

For more than two decades, he has been a law professor (in Ateneo de Davao University, Cor Jesu College of Law, and Jose Maria College of Law).  He is also a law dean for about 12 years already.

Now, he is ready to become the next governor of Davao del Sur. He believes he could do his plans “because all my life whatever modest accomplishments that I have done have been self-made with the assistance of people who love me and with the guidance of the Supreme Architect of the Universe,” he says.

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