Seventh legislative district

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Tuesday, February 18, 2014


EVERY proposal to create a new congressional district has the same justification: with a smaller area, a district can benefit from more projects from the national government.

This was what former congressman Pablo Garcia invoked as reason when he filed the bill to split the province’s second congressional district into two. Noy Pabling lost his re-election bid last year but his replacement has turned out to be just as eager to share his district with another congressman.

The Freeman reported yesterday that second district Rep. Wilfredo Caminero has filed House Bill 3149 carving a 7th legislative district out the 15 towns currently comprising the 2nd. As proposed, all the towns in the southeast coast, starting from Argao, plus Samboan will remain in the old district while the towns in the southwest, from Ginatilan to Dumanjug, will comprise the new one.

I would not be surprised if HB 3149 differs from the one previous filed by Garcia only in terms of the house bill number, the punctuation marks and perhaps, a few whereases. I am not accusing Willy of plagiarism; it is just that his and Garcia’s bills have the same subject and intent.

For example, the Caminero bill reportedly says in its explanatory note that “ (i)t is now an accepted fact of political life that the job of a congressman of the district is two-fold, to wit: legislation and constituency services.” I think I heard Noy Pabling also say that before.

In fairness, it is possible that the “constituency services” could rise when two, instead only of only one, congressmen represent a certain geographical area, but not necessarily the legislative output. If at all, it can only expand the membership in the House committee on silence.

Caminero also appears to have forgotten that he and the other members of Congress are no longer entitled to a pork barrel or the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).

The PDAF was where congressmen drew funding for their so-called constituency services. Each one was allotted P70 million a year, P40 million of which was supposed to be spent for bridges, school buildings and other “hard projects” while the rest went to soft projects like skills training and seminars.

But that is a thing of the past because the Supreme Court has categorically declared the PDAF in any form or under any label as “unconstitutional.” So how can the people of the second district benefit from the set-up of having two congressmen?

I have always looked at Congress as essentially a lawmaking body. Its constituency function is just the congressmen’s invention, intended, without doubt, to buy political patronage and support.

That is why I don’t believe in creating a Congress of more than 200 people when 30 or 50 can do the job. We should right-size, rather than expand, Congress.

One way to do that is to create only one House. Yes, let’s have a unicameral, instead of a bicameral, legislature. That would not expedite the lawmaking process, it would also be less expensive for the country to maintain.

***

Dear Mayor Mike: I know that you are a busy man and that you ought not to be bothered with small things. But the people you have assigned to take care of the latter are not doing their job so please allow me to address this to you directly.

Sir Mike, the road from the Capitol to Camp Marina is in terrible condition. I’m not sure if this road has a name but I know that you passed through it as I saw you campaigning there last May.

Only poor people like us used to travel through this road but over the years, the more affluent ones have been using the road, too.

But don’t help them; they’re already rich anyway. Please help us instead by kicking the butt of your engineering people.

Thank you, Sir Mike.

(frank.otherside@yahoo.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 18, 2014.

Opinion

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