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Ex-solon slams pork barrel provision in House draft Constitution

/ 04:54 PM February 04, 2018
Neri Colmenares

Former Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares (File photo by KIMBERLY DELA CRUZ / Philippine Daily Inquirer)

The draft Constitution proposed in the House of Representatives is the “worst” as it enshrines the pork barrel system, according to former Rep. Neri Colmenares, chairman of Bayan Muna.

In a statement issued on Sunday, Colmenares quoted the pork barrel provision in the first page of the draft Constitution of House Sub-Committee on Constitutional Amendments:

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“Each district shall be entitled to an annual share in the state and federal budgets for its infrastructure, as well as for the medical, educational and social services of its inhabitants. Each member of the Senate and of the party list shall likewise be entitled to an amount not less than the allocation for a district from the state and federal budgets for their constituents within the region or nationwide.”

The former solon slammed this provision, saying: “There have been many Cha-chas [charter changes] in the previous administrations, but this is the first Cha-cha that contains a Constitution with pork barrel enshrined.”

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“It is clear from the provision that an ‘amount’ will be allocated to each Senator, each party list Congressman as well as district Congressmen,” he added.

The worse part, he said, is that this amount for members of Congress who are national officials would also be deducted from the regional state budget.

“Federalism is supposed to disperse funds from the national government to the regions and provinces, but this reverses that purpose,” Colmenares pointed out. “This is an attempt to reverse the Supreme Court decision that pork barrel in the form of Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) cannot be provided in the national budget.”

This is another reason why members of Congress cannot sit as a constituent assembly (con-ass), Colmenares said.

“This is one more reason why members of Congress cannot sit as a Constituent Assembly as Concurrent Resolution 9 demands. They cannot decide on self-serving constitutional provisions such as term extensions, no-elections and giving themselves pork barrel,” Colmenares stressed.

He called on the public to oppose the “self-serving Cha-cha.”

Lawmakers have yet to decide on whether the proposed charter change should be through a constitutional convention, where changes would be proposed by representatives elected by the people, or through a constituent assembly to be composed of current sitting legislators.

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/atm

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TAGS: Charter change, constituent assembly, constitutional convention, federalism, Neri Colmenares, pork barrel provision
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