‘Congress can’t repeal anti-pork barrel law passed through people’s initiative’
MANILA, Philippines—Congress cannot repeal an anti-pork barrel law approved by the people through a people’s initiative, a lawyers group said on Tuesday.
According to the National Union of People’s Lawyers, in a statement, said the power of the people to legislate through a people’s initiative is superior to Congress’ legislative authority.
“The power of the people to validly initiate a law is but a direct exercise of their sovereignty. All government authority supposedly emanates from them,” NULP secretary general Edre Olalia said.
The NUPL is helping the promoters of a people’s initiative launched last Monday for the the enactment of a law prohibiting all kinds of “pork barrel.” The initiative must be signed by at least 10 percent of all voters nationwide and three percent of all voters in each legislative district before being presented again to voters in a referendum.
Fr. Ranhilio Aquino, a legal expert and the dean of the San Beda College Graduate School of Law, expressed misgivings Monday about a provision in the initiative proposal, which stated that once approved by the people, it may only be repealed, modified or amended by another law passed through initiative.
Aquino earlier said that Congress’ inherent power to legislate has been so written in the Constitution as practically limitless, and it could, if it wanted, repeal the anti-pork barrel law.
Olalia, however, said Congress derived its power to legislate from the people, upon whom, according to the Constitution, all sovereignty resided.
“Congress’ delegated power comes from the people. The water cannot rise above its source. It cannot undo the people’s initiative what it repeatedly fails and refuses to do,” he explained.
“If Congress repeals a law it has refused to enact and which their principals, the people, have initiated directly, it will be a “dizzy endless merry-go-round,” Olalia said, referring a possibility of people’s initiatives and congressional repeal taking place one after another.
If Aquino’s warning were true, then such a situation would “perpetuate till kingdom come a substantive evil that the principal—the people—has asked its agent—the lawmakers—to stop as they reneged on the public trust reposed in them,” the lawyer added.
The text of the initiative proposal was signed by about 5,000 people when the people’s initiative was launched on Monday at the Rizal Park. Signatories to the initiative included Sr. Mary John Mananzan, co-chair of the Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines co-chair, and Msgr. Romualdo Kintanar, Archdiocese of Cebu’s Discernment Group convenor.
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