United States Congress
[by Ike Señeres]
IN theory, democracy is really supposed to be participatory. The Constitution and its many laws are in place to make that possible, but up to now, the present reality seems to be very far from the theory. Suffice it to say that even if the mechanisms are already in place, a lot of work still has to be done, much of it in the form of advocacies, programs and projects.
In my previous columns, I have already written extensively about participatory democracy in the barangay level, by way of participation in the Barangay General Assemblies (BGAs). In recent news reports, there has been a lot of coverage about constitutional provisions for a People’s Initiative (PI), a process that would allow ordinary citizens to pass a law as if it was also passed by the Congress. In a manner of speaking, the PI process is also a form of participatory democracy.
As the saying goes, “You get what you pay for”. That is akin to the saying “You reap what you sow”. Perhaps that is really the essence of democracy. You get something if you invest something. If you invest nothing, then you get nothing. Even if our democratic rights are vested upon us by the Constitution, we also have the option of disregarding our rights, perhaps even waiving these. That is probably what happened in the case of barangay governance, because the turnout in the barangay elections is only about ten percent.
Unlike the Sangguniang Barangay wherein the members are only those who are elected in the barangay elections, everyone in the barangay could attend the BGAs, and anyone above 18 could vote for or against all resolutions. According to the Local Government Code (LGC), BGAs are supposed to be convened at least twice a year, but there is no limit as to how many times these could be convened within a given year. How much more participatory could that get?
Aside from the BGAs however, the LGC also provides for the creation and activation of Barangay Development Councils (BDCs), a formal body wherein about half of its members should come from the private sector, as represented by members of Non-Government Organizations (NGOs). Again, how much more participatory could that get? Taken together, the BGAs and the BDCs could work very well with each other, each one serving a different purpose. As I see it, all that is needed is to coordinate the schedules and the agendas of these two bodies, and the people in the barangay could practically write their own destiny.
As I see it, the coordination between the agendas of the BGAs and the BDCs is only a matter of scheduling. Even if the BGAs are essentially meant for individual participants, the NGOs could still get involved there as groups, acting on behalf of their individual members. The key to that, I think, are the caucuses that could be convened by the groups of active NGOs, so that they could coordinate their agendas before they go to the BGAs.
Just like any assembly or meeting, the ultimate outcomes are really the formal resolutions that could be approved by the BGAs, sitting as full assemblies. As I wrote in my previous columns, the BGAs are in effect the stockholder’s meetings, and these have greater powers than the SBs that are in effect merely board meetings by comparison. The only action that the SBs could do is to ratify the resolutions approved by the BGAs, and the SBs could not change anything.
For practical reasons, it would be good for the NGO caucuses to already prepare draft resolutions for submission to the agendas of the BGAs, instead of writing these drafts during the actual meetings. This would be too late of an action to do, and it would be a waste of time. In order not to waste time, it would be best to show the draft resolutions to the caucus members ahead of time, instead of showing these to them during the meetings when these are already ongoing.
I believe that it is about time that the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) should allow absentee voting in the BGAs, via internet and mobile means. Although the admissibility of electronic evidence is already provided for in the Electronic Commerce Act (ECA), there appears to be no ruling or legal precedent yet that would allow absentee voting. It may be farfetched, but perhaps it would be possible to try it in one BGA, in order to set the precedent.
As provided for in the LGC, the BDC is just the first layer of LDCs that go all the way up to the Regional Development Councils (RDCs). In theory, all the agendas and resolutions in the lower councils are supposed to go up to the higher councils. What this means is that the agendas and resolutions in the BDCs should actually go up to the Municipal Development Councils (MDCs). In reality therefore, the NGOs or the caucuses of NGOs could always bring their advocacies to the municipal level, if and when they would not succeed at the barangay level.
I recall that there is a popular actress who is said to always get what she wants. Perhaps it is the opposite in the case of barangay residents who could actually get what they want, except that they do not seem to care enough to get it. Meanwhile, many corrupt and incompetent local politicians are having a heyday in lording over barangay governance, perhaps also enjoying the public funds that they are putting into their private pockets.
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- Participatory Budgeting in Korea: Finding Solutions to the Limitations of Representative Democracy (isckoreamedia.wordpress.com)
- San Francisco To Test Online Participatory Budgeting (techcrunch.com)
- Participatory Budgeting; Recycling NYC; Lawyer Bubble; Monogamy (wnyc.org)
- Only losers demand a ban on opinion polls: Arun Jaitley (dnaindia.com)
- The “Declaration of the 58″ and the Distortion of Social Democracy (despinabiri.wordpress.com)
- Virginia GOP: If It Wasn’t For That Dumb ‘Participatory Democracy’ We Could Totes Win Tuesday’s Election (wonkette.com)
- #MillionPeopleMarch It’s about much more than Pork (cynicmeetshope.wordpress.com)
- Citizen Participatory Democracy (peoplesadvocacycouncil.wordpress.com)
- Look for the remedy..The Parliamentary System has been declining…. (dtsreddy.wordpress.com)
- Quick Note to the Americans (whatever.scalzi.com)
by: Ike Señeres
THE bottom line of the pork barrel issue is local governance. In theory, the purpose of the pork barrel is to fund local development needs that could not be “seen” by Congress as it approves the General Appropriations Act (GAA) for each fiscal year. Pursuing that theory, the Congress apparently came up with the legal fiction that whatever could not be “seen” by them as a whole assembly could be seen by the district Congressmen from their own local vantage point.
According to newspaper reports, the Lower House of the Congress has already decided to “scrap” the old pork barrel system, apparently replacing it with a new system that would focus more on line item budgeting, although it seems that the Congressmen could still “recommend” their own local projects subject to the approval of the appropriate House Committee and the corresponding implementing line agencies, i.e. the National Government Agencies (NGAs). #OpinYon #business
read cont | http://bit.ly/15HOA4F
- Abolition of congressional pork a sham (opinion.inquirer.net)
- Palace shows Joker Arroyo’s letter requesting P47M (newsinfo.inquirer.net)
- Burial assistance among Leyte solons items on their pork barrel (leytesamardaily.net)
- Professor Emeriti Briones and Monsod “grill the pork” in UP PDAF Forum (socialwatchphilippines.wordpress.com)
- Who is guiltier, JLN the fixer or the senator who hired the fixer? (leytesamardaily.net)
- An open letter to President Noy: Abolish pork, seriously. (rappler.com)
- Aquino, Abad, solons: Are you listening? (opinion.inquirer.net)
- The future of the barrels of pork (opinion.inquirer.net)
- Ayala anti-pork march to focus on alternatives, concrete actions (newsinfo.inquirer.net)
- ‘Scrap pork barrel, buy pork chicharon,’ vendors say (newsinfo.inquirer.net)
by: Ramon Orosa
THE successful holding of the Million People March has caused such reverberations in the political life of our nation. The march has sent a strong message to the political leaders that people have reached a point of such disgust in the guileless and unconscionable corruption being so broadly practiced in the higher reaches of our land. Reforms must happen and all individuals involved must be charged and held to judicial account and, I might add, made to make restitution of what had been obtained fraudulently.
Real changes. Not the cosmetic variety which some politicians are still trying to bring forth to calm the people down, meaning fool them even more, but let’s keep the system going because we must not ruffle the feathers of the legislators who are good at grandstanding at the Administration’s expense. Or else, let us see if we can give the pork another collar or disguise it in another account title in the Budget and announce with much fanfare that PDAF has been eliminated. But, he…he…he…now we have greater control of the funds and thus improve our persuasive power and hold over Congress! #OpinYon #opinion
read cont | http://bit.ly/18oPxCQ
- The “Reform” Argument on the PDAF (socialwatchphilippines.wordpress.com)
- Interactive Communication (ckalisky.wordpress.com)
- PDAF scam – – a way to manipulates us all (collideanddecline.wordpress.com)
- Palace, solons ask SC to lift TRO on ‘pork’ (manilastandardtoday.com)
- Roles played by few political leaders under scanner (assamtribune.com)
- House of Cards: Episodes 1 & 2 (gethimtothegreek820.wordpress.com)
- Social media (thehindu.com)
- Regaining the people’s trust (opinion.inquirer.net)
by: Erick San Juan
THE surprise U-turn of US President Barack Obama in attacking Syria over the weekend should be taken with a grain of salt, why is this so? As I have said before (in my writings and in my daily radio program) that a world war (or a regional conflict) is inevitable because of one, economic and two, to unite the citizenry of both the US and China against a perceived outside enemy to avoid domestic violence. And such war/conflict can be delayed but unfortunately will push through as planned by the ‘chosen few.’
As what was reported from various online sources that President Obama had made a second decision: to seek the approval of Congress before launching any strikes. The president said he had listened to members of Congress who had expressed a desire for their voices to be heard, and that he agreed. Although we have to be wary because “Obama insisted the delay did not have any tactical consequences. His most senior military advisor had told him an attack would be “effective tomorrow, or next week, or one month from now.” (The Guardian online 9/1/13) Meaning the attack will happen in the near future. #OpinYon #Syria#opinion
cont | http://bit.ly/15LOnNA
photo source: kernelpanicx.deviantart.com
- Obama asks Congress to delay Syria vote (bigpondnews.com)
- Obama Makes Case For Action Against Syria (640whlo.com)
- Obama Faces Strong Anti-War Mood in Congress (voanews.com)
- Could President Obama Be Indicted for War Crimes Over Syria Attack? (foxnewsinsider.com)
- The People Say No to War with Syria, Says Sheldon Richman (reason.com)
- Kuwait ruler presses Obama on Guantanamo detainees (star-telegram.com)
- The Long, Withdrawing Roar (freebeacon.com)
- Obama: Not sure I’ll order Syria strike without Congress (usnews.nbcnews.com)
- Putin Puts International Law Before War (canadafreepress.com)