Palace undermining People's Initiative - lawmaker

Posted at 09/04/14 5:26 PM

MANILA - Bayan Muna Representative Neri Colmenares feels Malacanang is undermining the People’s Initiative against pork barrel, with the Commission on Elections’ (Comelec) 2015 budget as proof.

Colmenares is one of the advocates of the People’s Initiative, a signature campaign to gather enough voters’ signatures to pass a law outlawing the pork barrel system.

During his interpellation of the Comelec’s budget, Colmenares asked Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes about the commission’s capacity to hold a referendum for the People’s Initiative. Under the Constitution, the Comelec will verify the signatures gathered and will conduct a referendum.

Brillantes said, however, there is no budget for a referendum in 2015 as the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) even took out their proposed budget for recall elections.

“Wala ho kaming budget. When we presented 2015, wala nakalagay for [people's] initiative. We were asking for a budget for recall for 2015, tinanggal ng DBM,” Brillantes said.

He estimated a referendum will cost P7 billion, along with expenses for the verification process for signatures.

Colmenares said Malacanang took out the budget for a referendum, but Brillantes clarified they didn’t ask for it.

What they did ask for is a budget for a referendum for any charter change move, he said.

Colmenares said, “Cha-cha kasi tututulan ito. Malacanang hasn’t approved a budget for a referendum.”

Colmenares feels this subverts the will of the voters who want an initiative.

Colmenares then asked that P7 billion be inserted into the Comelec’s budget for the initiative.

“May we ask that P7 billion be inserted. I submit we take it from the risk management fund of Malacanang. We can get P7 billion from [Budgetary Support to Government Corporations]. This budget for People’s Initiative is very important.”

Vice Chair Dakila Carlo Cua said, however, the motion should be made during the committee deliberations on the budget bill.

Brillantes supported the minority’s proposal.