Punish all

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Sunday, June 8, 2014


THE filing of plunder cases against three senators--Jinggoy Estrada, Bong Revilla, and Johnny Enrile–along with Janet Lim-Napoles, Gigi Reyes and four others is a welcome move. We who are disgusted by the pork barrel and how this was misused have a reason to be happy. Finally, despite efforts to confuse and derail, the pork controversy moved forward.

However, other names of possibly guilty officials have also cropped up. Apparently, more are involved.

This June 12, anti-pork groups in Cebu are calling on all of us to gather at 2 p.m. at the Fuente Osmeña to express our sentiment to punish all scammers.

The Cebu Coalition against the Pork Barrel System is also pushing for a People’s Congress on Aug. 23 to launch a People’s Initiative campaign to abolish both legislative and presidential pork barrel.

Why are we against the pork barrel system? Is it just because we are disgusted with the Napoles scam? We are fed up with stories of government officials enjoying their SOP pocketed from government project funds.

For many of us, we want the pork barrel system abolished because this will strike a fatal blow to patronage politics--the system that fuels vote buying and other evils associated with traditional politics.

This means June 12, 2014 is doubly meaningful. We shall commemorate our independence as a country. We shall also be pushing for our freedom from patronage politics.

For more information about the rally, coalition leaders set a press conference at the Patria de Cebu this morning. They will also be attending the 888 Forum at Marco Polo on tomorrow morning.

One could also join the Facebook group called “The People’s Congress (Pork Abolition Act through People’s Initiative)” at www.facebook.com/anti.pork or follow the Twitter hashtag #CebuAgainstPork.

***

Over a hundred victims of human rights violations during the Marcos dictatorship gathered at the St. Alphonsus Seminary Gym yesterday to prepare documents for submission to the Human Rights Victims Claims Board.

I came to the gathering having been one of nine youths arrested on Jan. 8, 1985. I was then a member of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) secretariat tasked with coordinating with local student leaders for an intensified campaign for education reforms.

Fresh from a long Christmas vacation, we decided on a marathon meeting in a farmhouse at Gun-ob, Lapu-Lapu City. Agents of the Marcos dictatorship, however, thought student leaders meeting was a no-no. They raided the house and hauled us to jail without any warrant or provocation.

Yesterday, four of us joined the gathering of human rights victims led by members of the local Selda and Flag chapters. We are also calling on other human rights victims of the Marcos dictatorship to contact Selda or Flag as soon as possible.

***

I wrote in my previous column about Black Pearl getting hired as the Provincial Government’s security agency despite problems with the SSS. During the week, Capitol officials insisted the bidding process was above-board.

Looking deeper into the controversy however, I realized Capitol officials still need to answer sufficiently several questions:

l Black Pearl Security Agency reportedly submitted an original SSS clearance. But has Capitol officials exercised due diligence to check if the clearance is indeed genuine?

A security guard told me last week the agency has not been remitting to the SSS. Has Capitol checked with the local SSS legal office?

l Capitol required bidders to submit a five-year track record. However Black Pearl’s website said it was formed only in 2011. What track record did the agency manifest before 2011? Why did the BAC accept Black Pearl’s track record hook, line, and sinker?

l Black Pearl reportedly won the bidding because they reported to possess more firearms and equipment compared to the other two bidders?

Reporters, however, noted that Black Pearl guards assigned last week did not have firearms. If the agency had more firearms than the previous agency, why didn’t the few guards assigned have one?

Bisan batuta wala.

Despite his statement clearing the bidding process, I hope Gov. Junjun Davide will take a second look and perhaps answer these questions I am raising. Guv, you won in a ticket that pushed for “matuwid na daan.” Please don’t tell me, pang-eleksyon ra diay to?

(Follow @anol_cebu in Twitter)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 09, 2014.

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