Who is Jocelyn Limkaichong? - Leonor Magtolis Briones

Posted at 01/19/09 1:02 AM

For some weeks now, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court has been accused of obstructing the promulgation of a court decision on an election-related case. Talks are rife about impeachment moves and public campaigns against Justice Puno. Thanks to newspaper headlines and analyses in various columns, the public is familiar with most of the lead players in this riveting drama: Chief Justice Renato Puno himself, Justice Ruben Reyes who drafted the decision, litigant former Congressman Jacinto Paras and his wife Olivia, and complainant, lawyer Louis Biraogo.

However, not much is publicly known about Jocelyn Limkaichong except that attempts were being exerted to remove her from the time she assumed the seat for the first congressional district of Negros Oriental.

The spokesman of the Supreme Court has already explained repeatedly why the decision has not been promulgated. No less than Justice Puno himself publicly explained the logic of his actions. Leading columnists and analysts have also commented on the implications of the case. Former Cong. Paras and Atty. Biraogo have publicly expressed their complaints.

But who is Jocelyn (Josy) Limkaichong? The other protagonists are all talking except Josy. Without touching on the legal aspects of the case, I would like to share what I know about Josy the person. After all, she is from my home province of Negros Oriental.

Actually, I knew her father, Julio Sy, much earlier than I did Josy. Julio is a self-made businessman who by dint of hard work became one of the most prominent persons in the province.

Julio was enrolled in Silliman University when he had to stop his studies because his father died and he had to take care of their business and his siblings. His wife, Anesia never tires of telling stories of how she and Julio had to spend long hours working literally to the bone to nurture and expand their business.

Julio is a valued member of the Board of Trustees of Silliman University which I chair. He is former head of the Investments Committee. When Julio speaks, the entire board listens. His constant reminder was: “Remember, the money of the university is not ours. The profits will not go to us personally. We can take risks with our own money but we should not subject the university to undue risk.”

Julio is a very low profile person. While he generously supports projects in the community, he shuns public approbation and prefers to be anonymous.

Josy is one of Julio’s three daughters. She finished high school at Silliman University and went on to La Salle University. She is married to Dodong Limkaichong who is the present mayor of the municipality of La Libertad in Negros Oriental.

Josy’s family is not into politics. She was drawn into it because of her husband. Before she won as congresswoman, Josy was mayor of La Libertad. I once brought a graduate class in local fiscal administration to her town to have a look-see at her projects.

She is an ardent advocate of the Millennium Development Goals, particularly those pertaining to education, health, and women. Her projects on population management, and reduction of infant mortality and maternal mortality are very impressive. The students visited farm lands which the municipality developed into demonstration farms. We also saw for ourselves the production of organic fertilizer through vermiculture.

Another interesting project which she initiated was the “Oksyon” or “auction” yard. This is a market where animals—carabaos, cows, pigs and goats are auctioned to buyers who come from different parts of the province. It provides a venue for farmers to sell their animals. It also provided additional revenue for the municipality.

Still another impressive project are the women’s cooperatives which Josy organized. Women made beautiful handbags from local material which are sold in Dumaguete City. They were also taught to produce other products which augment family incomes.

As congresswoman, she expanded many of her municipal projects to her district. Furthermore, she brought medical missions to far flung localities. She also brought a team from the Department of Foreign Affairs to assist people with the processing of passports and travel documents. Thus her constituents were spared from the costs and stress of physical travel to Manila.

Because of her educational background, she is prudent in husbanding the limited financial resources of her district and is always on the look out for revenue-raising opportunities.

As mayor, Josy was innovative and hardworking. As incumbent congresswoman, she has brought the MDGs. livelihood projects and capacity development to her district.

By the way, Josy does not know I am writing about her.

Congress returns

After a month-long hiatus, Congress returns to work. The most urgent task is for the Bicam Committee to reconcile the House and Senate versions of the 2009 budget. Back to work guys and gals!