Punchline

A closer look at Raffy Alunan

By Ermin Garcia Jr.

GUESS who blew into town –  a good friend and hopefully a senator soon – Raffy Alunan! Accompanied by former PNP chief Art Lomibao (nominee of One Philippines party-list), both attended the farewell party of Art’s PMA mistah, Cong Pol Bataoil, in preparation for his Lingayen mayoralty bid. 

He is certainly one of the few candidates outside the administration and opposition slates who have proven with no effort that one can be in and out of government with one’s integrity intact.

I have read his platform and it is consistent with how I knew him as Tourism Secretary and as DILG Secretary during the Ramos administration.

Foremost in his proposed legislation is to reform our educational system to build proper character formation, skills and intelligence for our citizenry.

Then fully understanding the need of many families to be together at all times and to turn their backs on overseas employment, he wants to revisit our investment policies and introduce amendments that would encourage investments that would create more employment with better pay scale.

Given his experience as DILG secretary, he wants to introduce reforms in the Criminal Justice System that would have no place for scalawags in the police force and instill higher professionalization in the ranks as the police’s equipment are modernized.  He also wants to introduce a bill that would establish an Internal Security Act aligned with ASEAN and the free world to defeat terrorism and transnational crimes.

I certainly share his desire to see to the restoration not only of the death penalty for selected crimes against humanity – terrorism, plunder, murder, rape, manufacture and supply of illegal drugs, ecological destruction and human trafficking but of ROTC in college.

I agree with his proposal that a 2-yr conscription program to serve in the Armed Forces in lieu of ROTC should be made available as an option.

He also supports the continuance of President Duterte’s independent foreign policy.

I’m sure he would like to be made accountable for his platform if elected. That’s the professional in him. I suggest you study him closely and you will know why I will vote for him, and pray that you do too – para sa bayan

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POLITICAL WILL FOR COMELEC. The deep frustration and seeming helplessness manifested by the provincial Commission on Elections during its press conference last week is both worrisome and disconcerting.

But in fairness to that office, the deep frustration is no fault of the provincial office. Like in all provinces, Comelec does not have the personnel to strictly monitor and enforce all the election rules, particularly, regulation of campaign materials.

Indeed, by sheer number alone, Comelec cannot ever hope to win the war on campaign materials without committed allies.

But before the candidates rejoice by the seeming defeatish view of the Comelec Pangasinan office of the situation and go to town thumbing their noses at Provincial Election Supervisor Alipio Castillo III, they ought to know that Comelec is not really all that helpless.

In the amended Omnibus Election Code, Section 28, Item b prescribes: “The Commission hereby deputizes local government units to prevent, remove, destroy, confiscate or tear down any prohibited propaganda materials.”

And read Sec. 29. Election offense. “Violation of R. A. 9006 and these rules shall constitute an election offense punishable under the first and second paragraphs of Sec. 264 of the Omnibus Election Code. Any aggrieved party may file a verified complaint for violation of these rules with the Law Department of COMELEC.”  And this is what Sec. 264 says: Any person found guilty of the offense of failure to register or failure to vote shall, upon conviction, be fined one hundred pesos. In addition, he shall suffer disqualification to run for public office in the next succeeding election following his conviction or be appointed to a public office for a period of one year following his conviction. 

In other words, Comelec may be helpless but the law has made Comelec a powerful agency.

The only thing can stand in its  way to making it powerful is the absence or lack of political will to mean that the law is king.

On availing Section 28, the question that comes to mind is: Does a local government have the right of refusal, not to accept the delegated authority? I doubt that. It’s a legal deputation of a legal order based on law.

Assuming that a town or city accepts the deputation, will the local officials be made  accountable for the enforcement of the law’s provision? Then, can a  deputized local government unit  be expected to faithfully  enforce the law fairly and equitably among allies and enemies of the incumbent officials?

That’d be interesting. But first, the Comelec office here must demonstrate political will to do what the law prescribes.

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A JOB FOR LIGA NG BARANGAY – In this particular political exercise, the Liga ng mga Barangay provincial chapter can lead the campaign for the strict enforcement of the postering rule.

It’d be inspiring to read a sign at the entry points of a barangay to read: WARNING: BAWAL ANG ILLEGAL POSTERING SA BARANGAY NAMIN! BABAKLASIN LAHAT NG ILLEGAL.

Will Liga president Art Brian Celeste be up to the challenge?

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WOE TO THE PARENTS. In our editorial this issue, we talked about the ongoing national debate on whether the government has the right to withdraw the scholarship of one state scholar attending school in any of the state universities and colleges.

Suddenly, taxpayers were aware that the government has not been acting against state scholars who joined destabilization activities of the government’s political enemies. And invoking a common analogy –  how can the government allow the state scholars to bite the hand that feeds them. They are all in one in sacking the rebellious scholar and transfer the privilege to other deserving students who failed to make the quota.

The withdrawal of scholarship will be based on two conditions: clear alliance with NPA and/or failure to maintain minimum grades for scholarship.  

Naturally, fearful among the lot in this debate is the parents’ sector. They stand to suffer the consequences if their children lose their valued scholarships. It’s bad enough that most parents’ views are ignored by today’s college students, but for the student to proceed recklessly over government’s condition for the scholarship can give parents sleepless nights.

The withdrawal of a scholarship will not mean expulsion from the college but simply to require student to pay all tuition and miscellaneous fees. Woe to the parents who will be made to pay all because their children didn’t value their scholarships enough.

Needless to say, obvious candidates for with possible alliance with NPA are card-bearing members of Kabataan Party-list. The youth group is known to be active in all protest rallies organized by the Makabayan bloc in congress contra government.

Let’s hope and pray that no state scholar in Pangasinan will ever have to lose his/her scholarship until his/her degree is earned.

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