People’s initiative-A A +A
Sunday, October 13, 2013
THE #cebuagainstpork coalition launched a people’s initiative enacting a law that abolishes the pork barrel system. Let us not confuse this effort with earlier attempts at Charter Change. As I understood it, the Cebu coalition seeks to enact a law through people’s initiative, not amend the Constitution.
I am saying this because the first news item on television I watched talked of “pag-usab sa batakang balaod.” Besides, the earlier attempts at people’s initiative were not really that of the people. These were done at the instance of powers-that-be-seeking another term in Malacañang.
The coalition also began toying with the people’s initiative idea at around the time of the Sept. 29, 2013 rally. The next week, the plan was formalized after a day-long workshop. Nobody like a Justice Puno influenced us. However, the group decided not to reveal the plan to the press before the Oct. 9, 2013 media launch.
As events unfolded last week, Puno made his people’s initiative suggestion on national television a day before the Cebu launch. Suggestion pa lang si Puno, ang taga Cebu
nagkahiusa ug nag-aksyon na. Attributing the Cebu initiative to Puno is inaccurate.
With that said, the Cebu coalition is not against welcoming all individuals, groups and forces into one broad national movement. Thus, a national consultation is being organized here in Cebu to coordinate the efforts of various groups all over the country.
This is an ambitious project.
One particular condition that must be met involves getting signatures from a minimum three percent of duly registered voters in all congressional districts in the country.
If there are fewer signatures in even one district upon submission, the people’s initiative petition will go to naught. Now, let us consider that in some districts, certain politicians practically can dictate voting patterns. They definitely don’t want the pork barrel abolished.
But with Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma supporting the effort, we expect people from other provinces to rally around the people’s initiative.
Come to think of it, it was Archbishop Palma who asked local groups what’s next and they responded with greater unity unlike in Metro Manila that seemed to have splintered. At the national level, dili baya basta-basta ang arsobispo sa Sugbo.
The situation at the Bureau of Customs (BOC) took additional twists last week. After the court issued a temporary restraining order, Atty. Lourdes Mangaoang became supposedly the highest ranking official at the Port of Cebu. However, Collector Paul Alcazaren had an order from Commissioner Ruffy Biazon to assume as OIC district collector. I hope a meeting in Manila late last week would clean up this mess.
I gathered two possible but conflicting reasons for the confusing revamps at the bureau the past few weeks though.
One, this is part of an effort to overhaul and clean up the bureau. This is the line peddled by P-Noy’s spokesmen.
This may have a grain of truth. The Department of Finance had been complaining about supposedly high export figures in other countries of goods brought to the Philippines.
However, our import figures fall very low when compared to what trade officials of other countries have been saying. This could only mean a huge volume of our imports had not been reported correctly. This indicates a problem at the BOC that Commissioner Biazon has so far failed to solve.
However, when Commissioner Biazon accepted the courtesy resignation of then deputy commissioner Danny Lim, I sensed something was not right. And the customs grapevine
now is awash with talks that he was the more upright among the deputies.
Two, this is part of the protracted intramurals of two factions within the Aquino administration with both factions rooting for a 2016 candidate.
I realized the barangay election is fast approaching when the whole Team Villarante of Poblacion, Talisay City visited me at the house yesterday morning. They were with Atty. Sipalay, who is a neighbor. The group is running against Team Balo. Hmmm. I said a mouthful about barangay leaders in past columns. Would the coming barangay polls make a difference? Perhaps, if we succeed in removing the pork barrel system.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 14, 2013.