MANILA (Mabuhay) – Various groups on Monday launched a people’s initiative to abolish the pork barrel, aiming to give venue to the “faceless individuals” to craft a law that would remove lump sums in the budget and penalize violators.
“The President, Congress, and the Supreme Court have failed the people. It is time for the people to take matters into their own hands and abolish the pork barrel system themselves,” the group said in a statement that was read by Mother Mary John Mananzan of the Abolish Pork Movement.
“We have jointly come up with a proposed bill to abolish the presidential and congressional pork barrel; prohibit lump sum, discretionary appropropriations; and penalize violators,” they added.
Mae Paner of the Scrap Pork Network said the initiative will give the “faceless” the chance to participate in law-making.
“Ballpen lang ang katapan, sasamahan mo ng pirma mo at makakagawa na tayo ng batas. How so rock star is that?” she said.
(“We only need a ballpen for our signature and we can craft a law.”)
Bayan Muna partylist Representative Neri Colmenares said the initiative aims to come up with a law that mandates line item budgeting and criminalizes allocation and use of pork barrel.
Despite the decision of the Supreme Court to abolish the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), Colmenares said the national budget still contains billions in lump sum funds at the disposal of the President.
Carol Araullo of Abolish Pork Movement said ordinary people would not find it hard to relate to the need to push for the People’s Initiative because all of them are affected with the corruption involving the pork barrel funds.
Republic Act 6735 (An Act Providing for a System of Initiative and Referendum) states that “a referendum or initiative affecting a law, resolution, or ordinance passed by the legislative assembly of an autonomous region, province, or city is deemed validly initiated if the petition therefor is signed by at least ten per centum (10%) of the registered voters in the province or city, of which every legislative district must be represented by at least three per centum (3%) of the registered voters therein.”
“If the province or city is composed only of one legislative district, then at least each municipality in a province or each barangay in a city should be represented by at least three per centum (3%) of the registered voters therein,” the law added.
The convenors of the group are Mananzan, Colmenares, Paner, Araullo, lawyer Rex Fernandez and Marc Canton of Cebu Coalition Againsr Pork Barrel, Fr. Ben Alforque of the Church People’s Alliance Against the Pork Barrel, Manny Lopez of E-Pirma, lawyer Alex Lacson of the Solidarity Transformation Philippines, and Inday Espina Varona of Scrap Pork Network.
Solidarity from Cebu
Lawyer Rex Fernandez of the Cebu Coalition Against Pork Barrel expressed confidence they could gather the estimated P5.4 million signatures needed for the law.
The law mandates that the petition must contain the text of the proposed measure, the proposition, the reasons for the creation of the proposed measure, the signatures of the petitioners or registered voters, and an abstract or summary written or printed at the top of every page of the petition.
After the verification of signatures and determination of the sufficiency of the petition, the Commission on Elections is required to publish the petition in newspapers with major circulation within 30 days after its receipt.
Comelec will also set the date of the referendum “which shall not be earlier than forty-five (45) days but not later than ninety (90) days from the determination by the Commission of the sufficiency of the petition.”
A special registration must also be set at least three weeks before the referendum.
If the voters approved the proposition, the proposed measure will be enacted into law 15 days after its publication. (MNS)