Editorial: More like it-A A +A
Thursday, October 10, 2013
THE movement against the pork barrel system has gotten the message. Former Supreme Court chief justice Reynato Puno was the first to point it out to the public. The Cebu Coalition Against the Pork Barrel System is on the verge of translating theory into practice.
Republic Act 6735, or the Initiative and Referendum Law, gives the people an alternative if Congress refuses to heed calls to enact a measure, like abolishing pork barrel. It’s called people’s initiative.
Some sectors can come up with a bill, have it endorsed (signed) by at least ten percent of the total number of voters nationwide. That’s more than 5 million signatures needed.
To make the process more difficult, at least three percent of the voters in each legislative district should be represented in those 5 million signatures.
“The people should unsheathe and use this power to make laws whenever their elected representatives default in the performance of their sacred duty to enact laws to promote the general interest, or worse, whenever they betray the public trust,” Puno told reporters.
Yesterday, the anti-pork coalition in Cebu unveiled its own measure proposing the abolition of the pork barrel system and announced the launch of an “extensive and thorough” signature drive and a parallel anti-pork barrel information and education effort.
It’s a tedious and difficult initiative, and one that Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago said is not feasible. She noted that the number of signatures required is “too high” and an information and education campaign “too expensive.”
What Santiago didn’t say is that this is precisely what a people’s initiative is about. To succeed, such a move must gain popular support. And in the pork barrel issue, it does appear like people’s rage is so widespread the number of willing signatories could surprise even Miriam.
And the launching the signature campaign and information and education drive alone can already change the complexion of the anti-pork movement. An organized and massive force could come out from the current disorganized mass, and it will be a more enlightened movement.
Also, the idea of Congress being bypassed by an enlightened public won’t be lost to legislators. Even now, some of them are saying they might not wait for the people’s initiative to roll before acting on the demand of an enraged public.
Finally this: with the people’s initiative, the public is provided with a specific solution to the pork barrel mess which is better than waiting for a congressional initiative that may never come.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 10, 2013.