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LRay Villafuerte passes reins of provincial gov’t to son

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FAMILY AFFAIR Outgoing Camarines Sur Gov. Luis Raymund “LRay” Villafuerte swears in his son, incoming Gov. Miguel Luis “Migz” Villafuerte. With them are LRay’s wife Lara and their three other children. JUAN ESCANDOR JR./INQUIRER SOUTHERN LUZON

PILI, Camarines Sur—The line of political succession at the Capitol here remains unbroken—and within the family.

Miguel Luis “Migz” Villafuerte, who made a record as the youngest governor ever elected in the Philippines at 24, was sworn into office by his father, outgoing Gov. Luis Raymund “LRay” Villafuerte, on Sunday. LRay’s wife Lara and three younger children witnessed the formal turnover of power.

Migz belongs to the fourth generation in the bloodline of Mariano Villafuerte Sr., who served as Camarines Sur governor during the Japanese occupation from 1943-1945. His grandfather and Mariano’s son, former Rep. Luis R. Villafuerte, occupied the post for 15 years, while LRay completed his three terms since his election in 2004 at the age of 36.

Luis and Migz ran against each other in the May elections, which saw the grandson crushing the grandfather by a margin of more than 60,000 votes.

Although fragmented by feuding members since 2007, the Villafuerte clan continues its grip on provincial governance for another three years with Migz’s victory. Its control of the provincial government has lasted for more than a quarter of the century.

Migz credited his great-grandfather, grandfather and father for his political inclination and his mother, Lara, for her “unconditional love” so he could endure the attacks against him and his family

during the poll campaign.

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Speaking in Bicol with a Tagalog accent, Migz declared that his first executive order would be to establish a youth development center, which aims to “enhance and strengthen youth participation in governance” and “provide scholarship program and skills training.”

He said he wanted to act as “Big Brother” to the youth sector, which comprises 60 percent of the voters in the province and provided a big push for his overwhelming victory against four opponents.

Migz pledged to introduce an “Internet-based curriculum” to the Department of Education by providing free online connections to public schools. He talked about giving away free iPad tablets and e-books to students to compensate for the lack of books and teachers.

Recognizing the agriculture-based economy of Camarines Sur, Migz promised to give away farm tools and equipment, to improve irrigation, and to open microlending facilities for vendors and traders.

He said he would expand tourism projects by developing the coastal towns of the fourth district in partnership with the local government units.

LRay is credited for putting Camarines Sur on the international tourism map with the successful promotion of Camsur Watersports Complex and the Caramoan Islands, a favorite location of the reality television show “Survivor.” Under his watch, the province has become a top tourist destination in the Philippines in terms of local and foreign tourist visitors as recorded by the Department of Tourism.

Migz graduated with a political science degree from the University of San Diego in California. He founded two family business enterprises, JungleFace and Republic Inc.

He spent his elementary years at De La Salle Zobel and high school at International School of Manila.


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