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ADVOCACY MindaNOW: Hypocrisy & Big Joke! 

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/30 Nov) – OVERSPENDING. I am reading in the news that the COMELEC (Commission on Elections) is starting to prosecute election “overspending“. In fact, Gov. ER Ejercito lost his seat in Laguna recently for exceeding the limits. By all means let’s run after all violators. But the problem is: the limit of P5.00 per registered voter (unless this has been changed) is not only unrealistic, it is plain and simple hypocrisy! And a big joke, we all know the expense involved in an election campaign. Everyone “doctors” his campaign record expenses just to comply. Those caught are jokingly called “tanga” or the crime as “katangahan“.

If we expect, at the very start, our aspiring public officials to be good at “doctoring” records and be dishonest just so they comply with the election law limits, then let’s forget about “good governance” when they are in office.

About time we change the rules!

CANADIAN LAW. I was glad I was able to catch last Thursday, while on my way to Manila, a bit of the brief talk of a Pinoy- Canadian lawyer, Atty. Bayani Abesamis during the Canadian Chamber of Commerce regular Davao chapter luncheon meeting atMarco Polo Hotel. He said the “Corruption Of Foreign Public Officials Act” was approved in 1999 after Canada adhered to the UN International Anti-corruption Declaration. Ordinarily, persons can be prosecuted only in the countries where the criminal acts are committed. But under the said law, a Canadian citizen can be prosecuted if, for example, he bribes a Filipino public official in the Philippines. As an exception to the “territoriality rule“, a Canadian can be prosecuted in a Canadian court back home although he committed the crime in the Philippines. Interesting to know!

ENVIRONMENT. I learned during my recent visit at the coal-fired STEAG Power Plant in Misamis Oriental that 75% of the pollution in the Philippines is caused by exhaust and emissions coming from vehicles and smoke. Only 25% is caused by industries, including power plants.

I wonder why so-called  “guardians” of the environment are only focusing their angst and protests at coal-fired plants and ignoring the bigger culprits. Some nitwit asked: “Why not protest against vehicle owners and drivers and cigarette smokers, too?”

Why not, indeed!

FEDERAL. I got an invitation from Mayor Rody Duterte to be facilitator in a “Federal Summit” in Davao City this week where he is convenor. This is to seek some systemic changes that may hopefully give Mindanao and all the regions, a new governance arrangement that will allow the locals to govern and determine for themselves what is good for them with lesser interference from central government in Manila. Like in the “Bangsamoro” struggle, those who are comfortable with the “status quo” or fearful of the uncertainties ahead will make things difficult. There is always resistance to change!

BIRTH PAINS. That reminds me. I had a chat with Cagayan de Oro

Congressman Rufus Rodriguez, Jr. during the wake of the late Sen. Ting Paterno in Manila.

He is marshalling the wide-ranging consultations on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) that will implement the MILF peace agreement. He said the original timetable of passing it by end of December; this year is no longer possible.  Moreover, there are constitutional and legal issues that are yet unresolved. These are the so-called necessary birth pains. I shared to him my thoughts. What is important is that the MILF is engaged closely during the congressional stage so it will understand — and accept — whatever is the final version that Congress shall approve. The government and the MILF are already irretrievably stuck with one another. They cannot peel away from an irreversible course. But the road to peace is not that smooth and easy.

This reminds me too of another forum in Manila this week about the “Bangsamoro Agreement” under the auspices of the Asian Peace and Unity Corps/ Integrity Circles Movement/ Universal Peace Federation groups. They are composed of regional peace advocates, military and police officers and other peace builders who want to see the peace process succeed. Then the Bishop Ulama Conference of Mindanao will also hold a forum among its Bishops and Ulamas about the BBL the following week in Davao City. Everyone wants to nurture the process but it may good to do some reality checks along the way. So we manage expectations!  (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Jesus “Jess” Dureza served in various capacities under the nine-year Arroyo administration, including the posts of government peace panel chair in the negotiations with the MILF from 2001 to 2003 and as Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process).

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