by Homerun Nievera, SouthofMetro.com |
Recently, I had the chance to personally talk to Ruffy Biazon as part of my work as publisher of FoodfindsAsia.com. A common friend, Adolf Aran, Jr., CEO of Courage Asia, introduced me to him during a function at the Red Kitchen + Bar restaurant in Festival Mall’s Riverside area in Alabang.
Ruffy struck me as a well-mannered and soft-spoken individual who simply loves politics — in a good way. He told me how he started in his political career, first as Chief of Staff of his father, the “living hero,” Senator (and now Congressman) Rodolfo Biazon. He animatedly told stories of his campaign sorties and that of having a battle-royale with then incumbent Congressman Ignacio Bunye, whom he defeated as an independent.
However, Ruffy actually started his public career at 22, as the Youth Representative to Videogram (Video Regulatory Board), as appointed by then President Cory Aquino. But I am getting ahead of the story. Here are some more information about Ruffy Biazon which I culled from various sources. Read on.
Who is Ruffy Biazon, really?
Christened Rozzano Rufino Bunoan Biazon, his parents call him Ruffy. He was born on March 20, 1969 at the Cavite Naval Station in Cavite City, the third and youngest child of then Lt. Rodolfo Gaspar Biazon and Monserrat Biazon.
Ruffy was born in a military hospital and grew up in a military camp. He spent his childhood in Navy Village in Fort Bonifacio where they stayed in government housing for military officers.
For his basic education, Ruffy was sent by his parents to Malate Catholic School where he learned not only the basics of literacy but how to live morally under the guidance of the priests and nuns of the school. In school, he was consistently at the higher ranks of the class and was very active in extra curricular activities.
At a young age, he exhibited leadership qualities, always a class officer, many times class president. He also served in the student council during his entire stay in the school, becoming the president in his senior year.
A capable writer, he was also in the editorial staff of the school newspaper, from first year to fourth year ultimately becoming the editor in chief. Ruffy actively participated in essay writing contests and spelling bees, consistently winning first place in the competitions he joined. He also became the school’s entry in the Science Quiz Bee, reaching the semi-finals.
The dream to become a doctor ushered Ruffy to take up Medical Technology in the University of Santo Tomas, although he was not able to move on to medical school nor practice his profession since he was diverted into an equally fulfilling but more exciting field—public service.
Ruffy married Trina in 1990 and were blessed with four boys now aged 18, 10, 7 and 3.
In 1993, Ruffy joined the Victory Christian Fellowship and even served in their church as a Children’s Church worker. He saw it as an opportunity to improve his skills as a father and strengthen his personal relationship not only with his sons but with God.
Ruffy’s social involvement is not just limited to his official duties as a public official. He is also a member of several socio-civic organizations and clubs as a member of the Rotary Club of Alabang North and an honorary member of the Fraternal Order of the Philippine Eagles.
As Customs Commissioner
On September 14, 2011, Ruffy Biazon was appointed by Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III after then Customs Commissioner Angelito Alvarez formally resigned at the Bureau of Customs. Two days after he formally accepted the position and he assumed his position as Commissioner on September 16, 2011.
He pursued reforms to not only to address the perennial problem of smuggling and corruption within the Bureau but also led the advocacy to make Philippine Customs compliant to international standards on Customs adminsitration. He initiated programs to transform the BOC through a three-pronged program — Modernization of Tools and Equipment, Modernization of Policies and Development of Human Resources.
On December 2, 2013, Ruffy Biazon resigned his position.
Ruffy’s Public Life as an Elected Official
Ruffy began his public life right after college when he was appointed by then President Corazon Aquino as Youth Representative in the Videogram Regulatory Board. He was 22 years old. When his father, a newly retired Armed Forces Chief of Staff, was elected Senator in 1992, Ruffy was taken in as Senator Rodolfo Biazon as his Chief of Staff.
In 1995, his father did not make it in his re-election bid due to election fraud called “Dagdag-Bawas” but Ruffy was taken in by newly elected Senator Sergio Osmena III as Chief Legislative Officer. When his father once again ran in 1998 and won, Ruffy returned as Chief of Staff in Sen. Biazon’s office.
Ruffy directed and managed his father’s campaign three times and served in the Senate for a total of seven years. Relying on this exposure and experience, he decided to take the front line instead of just being in the background by running for a seat in the House of Representatives.
In 2001, Ruffy sought the seat of the Lone Congressional District of Muntinlupa City, which was then held by lawyer Ignacio “Toting” Bunye, a former three-term mayor of that city. Although bearing the name of his senator-father, he was considered an underdog, since then Congressman Bunye had a clean slate as a public official and an undefeated record as a politician. Ruffy was a newcomer and upstart in Muntinlupa politics, never holding any public office in the city, even as a barangay tanod.
Against all odds and managing his own campaign, Ruffy won in his first bid for public office, beating the incumbent by 1,500 votes which was not contested with an election protest. This victory was recognized in political circles as one of the most significant upsets in the 2001 elections. Ruffy acknowledged the hard work of his campaigners and their “intelligent campaign” in this victory.
But Ruffy emphasizes that all the work and thought put into the campaign would have been in vain if God’s grace was not present. To him, the most important ingredient was the constant and profuse prayers which covered his electoral bid. He said, “In this victory, I have a lot of people to thank but I owe everything to God.”
The people of Muntinlupa were not mistaken in electing him. Adopting a program of government which he termed as “6K”, which meant “Karunungan, Kalusugan, Kaunlaran, Kapayapaan, Kabuhayan, Kalikasan”, he delivered services to his constituents and performed his duties as a legislator focused on his six stated agendas. Recognizing and appreciating his performance, the electorate of Muntinlupa elected him for a second term in 2004, and he won by a landslide victory.
While his re-election bid for a second term was easy, his third and final election as the Representative of the Lone District of Muntinlupa City was to be more difficult than his first. For his third term, Ruffy was challenged by veteran broadcaster-journalist Ricardo “Dong” Puno. Not only was he a very well-known public figure, his brother also headed the Department of Interior and Local Government, which had control over barangays and the Philippine National Police.
In addition, Sec. Ronnie Puno also had the reputation of being a successful election specialist. In the face-off between Ruffy Biazon and Dong Puno in 2007, Dong Puno enjoyed the advantage of being the candidate of the incumbent mayor, gaining the endorsement of two major religious groups and the support of a very popular TV game show host.
In spite of being an incumbent, it was the perception of many that Ruffy was the underdog with all odds stacked against him. But the people of Muntinlupa elected Ruffy for a third term with a comfortable lead over his rival. Although his opponent cried foul, no election protest against Ruffy was filed due to his convincing victory.
Ruffy’s Performance as a Legislator and District Representative
Ruffy’s performance as the Representative of the one District of Muntinlupa City was marked by very significant achievements. He proved his worth as a legislator, having authored 8 Republic Acts as a principal author and 36 others as co-author. In his last term, he filed a total of 81 bills and resolutions, most of which are national in scope.
The congressman is an active participant in committee hearings and plenary sessions in the House of Representatives. Aside from delivering speeches on significant national issues, he frequently engages other members of the House in debates and interpellation.
He successfully sponsored and defended the budgets of the Department of Defense in the last two years, the Department of Agrarian Reform and the Metro Manila Development Authority in the previous year, which were all highly controversial due to issues concerning the agencies and invited the interest of dozens of legislators. Congressman Biazon stood continuously for four hours on the plenary floor asking questions from fellow congressmen who took turns taking to task one of the departments. In his trademark cool and composed manner, Ruffy successfully defended the sponsored budgets, not once buckling under the pressure.
In his district, Ruffy embarked on an ambitious yet realistic program when he first assumed office in 2001—the modernization of Muntinlupa’s public school system by introducing the Computer Training for Educators and Resources for Students Program (Compu.T.E.R.S. Program).
The program had 5 stages:
Stage 1 – Computer Literacy training for teachers in the public school system. Upon the initial implementation, 800 teachers were given computer literacy training in order to introduce them to Information Technology.
Stage 2 – Provision of computer hardware which the educators can use not only in their daily office functions but also in teaching. Schools were all provided with computers for the students’ use as well.
Stage 3 – Technology Intensified Instruction (T.I.I.) was introduced. Software and teaching programs were provided which enable teachers to teach Math, Science and English using software specifically programmed for such purpose. Muntinlupa was the first city in the country to be 100% T.I.I.-certified.
Stage 4 – Computer Laboratories were set up in the schools with the objective of providing hands-on experience to as many students as possible. Prior to this, the only experience that students had with computers were the use of card board mock-ups which only provided them an idea of how to use a keyboard.
Stage 5 – Connection to the World Wide Web. A five-year subscription to the internet was made available to all the high schools of Muntinlupa, enabling students to have access to massive resources in the world wide web, opening doors of new opportunities for learning.
Owing to the huge amount needed to complete the program, he funded it through his congressional fund on a multi-year basis which was already factored in when the project was formulated. A believer in private sector participation in government, Congressman Biazon also engaged Non-Government Organizations as partners in his projects.
One example is his partnership with Gearing up for Internet Literacy and Access for Students (GILAS), a project of top-notch private corporations such as Smart Communications, Globe Telecoms, PLDT, Ayala Corporation and many others. Not only did it provide a more cost-efficient way of doing projects, it also increased transparency in government programs.
Another major achievement of Congressman Biazon in his district is the smooth relocation of the thousands of informal settler-families who live along the Philippine National Railways tracks which traverses eight out of nine barangays in Muntinlupa City.
Since the beginning of his term in 2001, Ruffy pushed for an “in-city” relocation program for the informal settlers, as opposed to the traditional practice of the government to relocate the Metro Manila informal settlers to the nearby provinces. He proposed that the families to be removed from the PNR right of way in Muntinlupa be relocated to a site within the city, particularly the Bilibid Prison reservation which was 415 hectares in land area. He pushed for the allocation of 50 hectares to be used as relocation site for the relocates.
But more difficult in getting government to set aside the property for relocation is the challenge to convince the informal settlers to accept the relocation program. This was not made easy due to the practice of traditional politicians to ride on the popular sentiment of informal settlers to be given the land where they are illegally settled on. Add to that the tactic of certain interest groups to agitate the masses to go against government programs.
Using a grassroots information campaign through community dialogue and consultation, Congressman Biazon embarked on what seemed at the start to be a daunting task, to convince the informal settlers to accept their relocation which will require them to pay the government a monthly amortization for their resettlement. But since he patiently undertook this mission over a span of several years, the relocation program is presently 50% underway, with zero incidence of violent demolition along the railways of Muntinlupa, unlike many other government relocation projects where the informal settlers often resorted to defending their homes with sticks and stones and requiring government to use force to evict them.
Congressman Biazon’s effective performance in the delivery of projects and services in his district earned him the trust and confidence of the people of Muntinlupa who elected him into office three times. Focusing on the basic needs of his constituents such as health, education, livelihood and peace and order, Congressman Biazon effectively used the congressional funds allocated to his district. He was even lauded by the Department of Education as an Outstanding Congressman in the use of congressional funds for education projects.
Ruffy Biazon is a certified Rescue Scuba Diver with certification in the use of Nitrox , an avid photographer both on land and underwater, a scale model and airsoft wargame enthusiast.
Skilled at Disc Jockeying since he was 14, Ruffy still plays during parties and special events.
He is also a techie, maintaining his own website, social networking sites and blogs. Writing is a passion of his, which provides an outlet for his emotions and thoughts.
As a private citizen, Ruffy still longs to go back to politics. His Facebook wall and Twitter account reflect this desire as he uses social media to express his political sentiments. In a year’s time, I am sure he’ll be back. Heroes always do make comebacks. Ruffy Biazon has hero blood running through his veins. He will once again make Muntinlupa City proud.
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