TIMES have really changed without the “pork.”
Consider, for example, Cordova Mayor Adelino Sitoy’s reiteration of an idea pushed a few years ago, that Cebu needs to have additional congressional districts (for him, six more). That idea led to the carving of the lone district of Lapu-Lapu City from the sixth district by former congresswoman Nerissa Soon-Ruiz.
Sitoy, when he raised the issue on the creation of additional congressional districts for Cebu during the meeting of the Metro Cebu Development Coordinating Board (MCDCB), also reiterated the same argument used by other Cebuano politicians: that Cebu’s growth would be spurred if it has more congressional districts.
That argument seems to be more potent then but is less so now. A couple of years ago, the argument for additional congressional representation for Cebu sounded more compelling because each lawmaker got millions of pesos from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). The Supreme Court shot down the PDAF last year.
When PDAF was part of the budgeting process, even congressmen who became members of the “committee on silence” at least had a use for the districts they were representing. They couldn’t legislate, but they could allocate funds for projects, some of which were admittedly worthwhile (we won’t include here the “commissions” and the “share” they also got).
But it is a different ballgame now. Without the PDAF, lawmakers will have to focus on the more difficult task of legislation, which means that the criteria in assessing the work of our congressmen also changes. This is important especially in pegging the size of Congress.
Cebu may have six more members of the House of Representatives, but if they couldn’t come up with compelling legislation for the province, wouldn’t they eventually end up as a burden to taxpayers? Even now, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that only very few Cebuano lawmakers can be considered standouts in the task of legislation.
The shooting down of the PDAF and the continued condemnation of the pork barrel system should effect a change in the way we view Congress.
The quality of Cebuano legislators should be more of a concern, not the quantity.