People’s initiative launched vs pork barrel-A A +A
Thursday, October 10, 2013
THE Cebu Coalition Against the Pork Barrel System yesterday launched a campaign to gather 5.7 million signatures, for a people’s initiative to end the pork barrel allocations.
“In addition, we will also need at least three percent of all the registered voters in each legislative district,” said businessman Marc Canton in a press conference yesterday.
A people’s initiative is one way to introduce amendments to the Constitution or propose new legislation, such as the abolition of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or other forms of the pork barrel.
Canton, Dr. Rowena Burden, Msgr. Rommel Kintanar and lawyer Ernesto Francisco pointed out in the press conference that the 1987 Constitution requires that for the initiative to move forward, at least 10 percent of the national registered voters should sign the petition.
To achieve these numbers, they said that a “massive, extensive and thorough campaign” of compiling vetted voters’ signatures will be implemented, starting with each parish in the 86 dioceses around the country.
Each school, college and university in every town, city, province and region will also be canvassed, the organizers said. They will also count heavily on the employees of allied business groups, chambers and companies.
“The coalition aims to reach at least 5.7 million signatures nationwide,” read their press statement.
Calls to abolish the pork barrel have been made since allegations surfaced that billions in PDAF went to fake non-government organizations and non-existent projects.
At least 38 people, including three senators and businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles, have been charged with plunder and malversation of public funds.
Kintanar said the pork barrel issue involves the interest of the entire country so that they can ask all the parishes to help.
“We will come up with a primer to be distributed to the people so they will understand why any form of pork barrel must be abolished,” Kintanar said.
When asked if the coalition has proposals to effectively deliver basic services if the PDAF is abolished, Burden said they have to come up with alternative, but the focus at the moment is on the abolition of the pork barrel.
The coalition officials said that under the Constitution, the Comelec is obligated to allocate funds for the people’s initiative and to verify the signatures of the voters who will sign the petition against the pork barrel.
“The beauty of this thing is that this is a constitutional process,” Canton said.
Francisco said that within 15 to 20 days, they will be finalizing the petition against the pork barrel, which will be filed before the Supreme Court.
“We want to be sure that the petition will not be dismissed on a technicality. The national consultation will be on Nov. 9. This is an initiative of the people acting as congressmen and senators,” Francisco said.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 10, 2013.