Issue of September 14, 2014
Mt. Province

Baguio Day Anniversary Issue
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Will local governments take full advantage of the PDAF decision?

In testifying against VP Jojo Binay, former Makati vice mayor Ernesto Mercado admitted that he was literally a “bag man.” He claimed that he delivered kick-back money to then Makati mayor Binay placed in “duffel bags.”

This reminds us of Gov. Chavit Singson who delivered jueteng money to then Pres. Erap in Malacanang inside attaché cases.

Anya ngata ti adaddu ti macarga na? Duffel bag or attaché case?

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How long will VP Jojo Binay survive the onslaught?

It was expected, considering his early declaration of his intention to run for President, that Jojo Binay would soon face the firing line. And events of recent days have proven this to be correct.

So far, like Teflon (non-stick coating, water, dirt, and mud resistant, etc.), he has survived. But for how long?

Early on in his term, it was observed that PNoy also seemed to be made of Teflon and effectively resisted all criticisms against him in the face of his good record. But lately, perhaps more because of the doing of some of those around him, some of the issues raised are starting to strike home and reach the target.

Will the same thing happen to Jojo in time to thwart his desire for the Presidency? Of course, it is too early to tell. But it is not too early to expect that more issues, legitimate or not, will be hurled against him in the next months.

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What may have escaped the attention of many, but hopefully not the officials of local government units, in the decision of the supreme Court declaring the Congressional Pork Barrel (PDAF) unconstitutional, is that one of the major reasons for its nullity was it violated the constitutional principle of local autonomy.

Among the grounds raised by those who attacked it was that the Congressional Pork Barrel goes against the constitutional principles on local autonomy since it allows district representatives, who are national officers, to substitute their judgments in utilizing public funds for local development.

The SC agreed with the observation that the concept of legislator control underlying the pork barrel system conflicts with the functions of the various Local Development Councils (LDCs). Considering that LDCs are instrumentalities whose functions are essentially geared towards managing local affairs, their programs, policies and resolutions should not be overridden nor duplicated by individual legislators, who are national officers that have no lawmaking authority except only when acting as a body.

The SC ruled that with PDAF, a congressman can simply bypass the LDC and initiate projects on his own, and even take sole credit for its execution. Indeed, this type of personality-driven project identification has not only contributed little to the overall development of the district, and according to the SC, illegally and unconstitutionally subvert genuine local autonomy.

To a great extent, the decision striking down the PDAF was actually a victory for local autonomy. With the decision, the Supreme Court has pointed local governments on the path to strengthening their autonomy.

The SC cannot however be always there to babysit local government units. They must continue with the fight to safeguard their autonomy. We are sure Congress will continue to find ways and means by which legislators can impose the personality-driven style of pork barrel.

The SC has momentarily liberated local government units from the unconstitutional, scandalous and graft ridden PDAF. They must however continue to be vigilant against its return in other forms and guises.

Strange however, but some local government officials are crying for a return of the PDAF. Apay ngay?

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