People’s bill seen to abolish ‘pork’

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014


THE People's Initiative Bill against the pork barrel system was launched in the Summer Capital Monday at the People's Park enjoining Cordillerans to sign a petition backing the bill.

The People's Initiative Bill is an act "abolishing the presidential and congressional pork barrel system, strengthening the system of checks and balances over public funds.”

National Union of Peoples' Lawyers-Cordillera Administrative Region chairperson Kissack Gabsaen told media the proposed bill is a direct exercise of sovereign power granted by the 1987 Constitution.

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He explained a constitutional convention may be made upon a petition to enact a law citing Article 17 Section 2 of the Constitution, which says "at least 12 percent of the total registered voters, of which every legislative district must be represented by at least three percent of the registered voters" are needed to make the enactment of the people's initiative possible.

In detail, it mandates all proposed budgets to contain an itemized appropriations except in the case of disaster response, the contingency fund of up to 5 percent and intelligence or other confidential funds of the Department of National Defense, Department of the Interior and Local Government and the National Security Council.

It also provides the National Expenditure Program to include special funds and other off-budget accounts to be approved by the Congress.

In addition, it states that all funds "unspent, unobligated and unreleased funds should be reverted to stay as part of the general fund at the end of fiscal year and shall be subjected to appropriation by the Congress."

Moreover, the abolition of Presidential Social Fund is also being sought.

Violations considered in the bill are authorization of appropriating and spending public money not covered or in violation of the law; allocating lump sum amount in budget proposals and approval of its inclusion in the general and supplemental appropriations; and direct or indirect involvement in the implementation of any appropriation law through post enactment acts or practices.

Furthermore it prohibits improper declaration and utilization of savings; impounding of any appropriation through "retention, reduction, rescission, deferral or suspension of funds release; and tolerating or involvement of any person with national officials in violation of the bill.

National officials or any private individual caught violating these will be penalized with six years and one to ten days of imprisonment and "perpetual disqualification from public office."

The petition signing led by Tongtongan Ti Umili was participated in by registered voters coming from the different provinces and cities in the region.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on August 27, 2014.

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