Tag Archives: Executive (government)

[From the web] Clipping the President’s fiscal powers: A short-term sacrifice to ensure the long-term gain of the people -Akbayan

Clipping the President’s fiscal powers: A short-term sacrifice to ensure the long-term gain of the people

Akbayan welcomes President Benigno Aquino III‘s attempt to elucidate some of the issues that have since surfaced because of the pork barrel scam in his recent public address. We also welcome his resolve to make accountable the pork barrel plunderers and apply the full weight of the law to all those who have robbed the people of their money. At a time when there are attempts to obfuscate the people’s anti-pork, anti-corruption campaign from those who stand to lose much from it, we are glad that President Aquino has heeded the public’s call for clarity and transparency by making himself open to public engagement.

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In the same spirit of openness, Akbayan conveys to President Aquino some of the points where it diverges from his public address on the pork barrel issue. First, even as we recognize his effort to explain the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), we assert that this must go hand in hand with the commitment to clip the fiscal powers of the Executive to further reform the country’s budget system. We remind the President that the DAP is one the facets of such vast and unbridled fiscal powers of the Executive–powers that have been gravely abused in the past and coveted by
some of those who seek to replace him after his term.

Second, the President must realize that not all those who are expressing their concern on DAP are diverting the issue away from the PDAF plunderers. Even though there is a need to remind the public of the important and pressing tasks of the anti-pork campaign, it is wrong to dismiss DAP, more so the executive’s fiscal powers as non-issues in the over-all reform process. Of all people, President Aquino knows too well the dire consequences of the unregulated fiscal powers of the executive having filed a Budget Impoundment Control bill when he was still a Senator during Gloria Macapagal Arroyo‘s pillage of the people’s fund.

Lastly, President Aquino must understand the necessity of implementing under his term deeper reforms particularly those that address the Executive’s unregulated fiscal powers. It is not enough to say that he has not stolen a single cent from the nation’s coffers. It is also severely inadequate for the people to solely rely on an incorruptible leader to assuage their fears that the nation’s coffers will not be abused while our budget system remains prone to corruption and other abuses. President Aquino must make necessary steps to ensure that future administrations will not abuse the people’s fund to entrench their interests, such as what have been displayed in the past.

Thus, we reiterate our call to the President to certify as urgent the passage of House Bill No. 2256 or the Savings and Augmentation Bill, House Bill No. 2257 or the Budget Impoundment Control Bill and House Bill No. 3128 or the Budget Reform Bill to regulate the Executive’s fiscal powers
and further democratize the budget system.

President Aquino must not only persevere and be courageous in punishing the pork barrel plunderers. He must go beyond courage and make the short-term sacrifice of clipping his own fiscal powers to ensure the long-term gain of the people. ###

Source: akbayan.org.ph

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[In the news] Cyber law talks set next week -PhilStar.com

Cyber law talks set next week
By Aurea Calica, The Philippine Star
October 05, 2012

MANILA, PhilippinesMalacañang has set a dialogue with stakeholders on the controversial Cybercrime Law even as more groups stepped up calls to repeal the law on fears that it would be used to suppress online freedoms.

A dialogue was scheduled on Oct. 9 to allow all stakeholders to air their concerns about Republic Act 10175, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said.

The place and venue will be announced later, he said.

At the same time, Lacierda said he was not aware if the executive branch could still suspend the implementation of RA 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act since it was “called to implement it.”

“We are the executive branch, we execute. What the legislative branch can do, I understand, and I have seen from some tweets that are going around, is that they can issue a joint resolution. But I don’t know if they intend to do that,” Lacierda said.

Lacierda said he could ask Justice Secretary Leila de Lima if a suspension of the law’s implementation was possible at this time.

Lacierda said so far no case had been filed for online libel or any of the contentious provisions and there were portions that would have to be enforced immediately.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) joined the growing clamor to repeal RA 10175.

Read full article @ www.philstar.com

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[Statement] An Appeal to Rationalize Mining Policy – Bantay Kita

An Appeal to Rationalize Mining Policy
By Bantay Kita

Current policy on mining has not brought promised benefits to the Filipino people.

Implementation of the mining law has been fraught with lack of transparency and numerous examples of poor governance. The FPIC process has, too often, served to misinform indigenous communities on the effects of mining projects.  Instead of improved livelihoods and progress, mining has brought displacement and economic injustice to the so-called ‘host’ communities. Watersheds and forests have been encroached upon, endangering the health and welfare of both upland and surrounding downstream communities. Compared to the devastation caused by mining projects in their jurisdictions, local government revenue gains are too miniscule to be felt.  The industry is plagued with under-declaration, tax avoidance and tax evasion.  From 2000-2009, the under-collection of excise taxes was 65.5%. Among the many defects of the Mining Act of 1995, is that it contains provisions that do not allow the national government to get a fair share of mining revenues.

Employing its more than generous gains, the mining industry has embarked on lobbying and media campaigns to mislead the political leadership and the public with statements and advertisements on the benefits of mining. It has even articulated a veiled threat that any obstacles to mining, such as environmental restrictions, will harm economic development.

Contrary to all this industry hype, local governments and communities have not felt the benefits but the the adverse effects of mining. Their experience has led them to take action to protest against the encroachment of actually irresponsible mining projects and protect themselves from their devastating consequences. According to the MGB, 7 out of 16 mining projects in the advanced exploration and feasibility financing stages and  25 out of 28 projects in the development and expansion stages are facing opposition from local  populations and their officials.

Over 20 LGUs have issued moratoriums and environmental regulations to prevent mining firms from causing further damage to the environment, to livelihoods and to lives in their jurisdictions.

The facts speak for themselves.  In the last decade, from 2000 to 2009, mining and quarrying together accounted for no more than 0.91% of Philippine GDP. In the same period, the industry’s contribution to total employment was a mere 0.376 %.  Unnecessary incentives have also contributed to making the revenue effort of the mining industry to be slightly more than half of the revenue effort of the country.

Mining has contributed significantly to exports. But, without the development of downstream industries, that is a double-edged sword. As it spreads, it will cause a resource curse situation and hamper future development of the economy. Even if exports give rise to growth, this growth is clearly unsustainable. It will cause dependence on exports that deplete non-renewable resources.

Not a few national government officials have also become concerned with the problems created by the current policy for the mining industry.

Some are casting about for means to raise revenues, others are considering mechanisms to improve governance of the industry.  Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa announced that the government intends to adopt the Extractive Industries Transparency initiative. However, these are piecemeal measures mainly addressed to improving revenues for the national government.  To date, no comprehensive policy review has been conducted.  Such a review is not even an express priority and therefore no viable vision for a viable and sustainable mining program has been articulated.  Without such a vision, new mining projects such as those recently procured by the President in China, will benefit only those companies, not the country, not the Filipino people and not the Philippine government (national as well as local).

Congress has taken due notice of the problems caused by current mining policy. Several alternative mining bills that adequately address these concerns have been filed in the House of Representatives. But, these have not been prioritized in the legislative agenda of the Executive branch of government. On the other hand, moves to amend the economic provisions of the Constitution may further degrade the Philippine position vis-à-vis mining.

Bantay Kita calls for the crafting and institutionalization of reforms before further expansion of the mining industry.

Bantay Kita appeals to President Benigno C. Aquino III —

To  immediately institute an in-depth review of the current mining regime, with special attention to the incentives granted to the industry, its practices vis-à-vis the rights of local populations and indigenous peoples and its long term effects on the environment ;

To prioritize the passing of a new mining act;

To adopt the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and other transparency mechanisms;

To craft a policy statement on extractive industries; and

To effect a moratorium on new mining projects until a mining regime in which present as well as future generations of stakeholders receive their fair and just shares has become operative.