Exercise in futility?-A A +A
Friday, October 11, 2013
THE Cebu Coalition Against the Pork Barrel System has launched a people’s initiative to abolish the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel of national legislators. They aim to gather more than five million signatures nationwide. This figure represents ten percent of the more than 50 million registered voters in the country.
People’s initiative is one of the three ways to propose legislation and introduce amendments to our Constitution. The others are through a Constitutional Convention or through a Constituent Assembly.
This is not meant to douse cold water on the initiative. But I view this as next to impossible, an exercise in futility. This is a very tedious process.
Imagine gathering five million signatures that will be subjected to a thorough verification by the Commission on Elections (Comelec). This early, the Comelec has already expressed reservations regarding the process.
I cannot understand why this group has to do this when there is still a pending petition filed by some quarters asking the Supreme Court to declare the PDAF as unconstitutional. Why won’t they wait for the High Court’s decision?
While this group is for the abolition of the pork barrel, it has not offered solutions. I have to reiterate my stand on the pork barrel. While I agree that it is a source of corruption, I also think it has a positive side. It can be used to fund soft projects like scholarships for poor but deserving students and medical assistance for indigent patients.
Does the group have an alternative program once the pork barrel system is totally scrapped? While I admit that the pork barrel is being used by some politicians for political patronage, I have also seen its good side. Asa man paingon ning mga pobre nga mangayo og panabang panahon nga sila maospital?
The group is banking on the support of the influential Roman Catholic Church. But this is a political issue. Does this mean that the Church would now involve itself in political matters? Will church leaders use the pulpit to influence the people to sign the petition?
Instead of resorting to this very tedious process, why won’t the anti-pork barrel group wait for the decision of the Supreme Court or pressure the executive department and President Noynoy Aquino to totally scrap the pork in next year’s budget, including the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP?? Or wait for the next election?
In that election, we can ask congressional and senatorial candidates if they will accept pork barrel once elected. If they will, then we reject them. I think that is the simple, effective and practical way of eliminating the pork barrel system.
Gov. Hilario Davide III has approved the travel of 10 Provincial Board members for a workshop on the treatment and rehabilitation of drug dependents. For me, this is plain and simple junket.
Is the Provincial Capitol now involving itself in drug rehabilitation? There are other agencies handling such a program. Why send ten PB members for that purpose and spend millions of pesos from Capitol’s coffers?
The seminar fees alone will cost more than half a million pesos. This is outside of the airfare and hotel accommodation.
Why don’t we just send one or two participants who will then echo what they learned to their colleagues in the Provincial Board upon their return? Or why not just invite a foreign expert in drug rehabilitation to speak about the matter? I think this is the economical way.
The problem with us is that we always try to copy systems and programs of other countries that are not practical and applicable to local settings.
Drug rehabilitation centers and prisons in the US are sophisticated facilities. Drug dependents and prisoners are housed in good structures. There are only two prisoners sharing one cell.
But look at the situation here. For example, the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC) was built for only more than a thousand detainees but now it houses almost 2,000 prisoners. Can Capitol apply the U.S. method to the local situation?
Governor Davide, if he has a sense of delicadeza, should cancel the travel of the ten Provincial Board members. Bangkaruta pa nang Kapitolyo, usik-usik pa mo’g kwarta.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 12, 2013.