On Legislators’ SALN
THE print and broadcast media reports that DND Secretary Delfin Lorenzana may recommend the lifting of martial law in Mindanao by July this year once Congress introduces amendments to the country’s anti-terrorism law is heart-warming. The law referred to by Secretary Lorenzana is R.A. 9372 or the Human Security Act of 2007 which regulates the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus and declaration of martial law in certain areas of the country. The proposed amendments sought by the Secretary includes “giving law enforcers authority to detain terrorism suspects for 30 days, wiretapping and surveillance as well as monitoring of online activity on suspects for 90 days without the need for court approval and easing up the P500,000 penalty for law enforcers who err in arresting and detaining a suspect.” From the legal stand point, however, this writer believes that the conditions set forth by Secretary Lorenzana have some Constitutional implications which call for serious and in-depth study and consideration by our legislators. The stringent requirement imposed by the new rules mandated by the House of Representatives for the release of legislators’ statement of asset and liabilities (SALN) is quiet revealing. If members of the Lower House of Congress have nothing to hide, why are they afraid to release to the public their SALN. Senator Grace Poe hit the nail right on the head when she said in an interview at ANC that “the new rules are ‘ridiculous’ and ran counter to the constitutional requirement for all government officials and employees to disclose their SALN” Another controversial measure in Congress is the reported allocations of pork barrels in the 2019 Appropriations Act which channels funds to lawmakers for their pet projects in their districts and which allegedly has been the source of kickbacks for them. It may be recalled that pork barrel allocations have been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2013 in the wake of the P20 billion pork barrel scam allegedly manipulated by Janel Lim-Napoles. Reports are that Sen. Panfilo Lacson has called on President DU30 to exercise his line item veto power “by removing all pork barrel inserted by lawmakers who are incorrigibly insatiable and simply beyond redemption.” We hope that President DU30, who reputedly has disdain for the graft-ridden pork barrel system, will listen to Senator Lacson.
TRIVIA: Congratulations to the Universidad de Sta. Isabel which will be holding its homecoming on Saturday, February 9 under the watch of alumni association president Atty. Malu Raneses-Raval. Thru this column, all members of the Knights of Columbus, Jorge Barlin Assembly, are reminded of our regular meeting this coming Sunday, February 10.
QUOTATION OF THE WEEK: “FREEDOM IS HAMMERED OUT IN DISCUSSION, DISSENT AND DEBATE.” HUBERT HUMPHREY
FOR OUR WORD OF LIFE: “DO NOT BE CONQUERED BY EVIL BUT CONQUER EVIL WITH GOOD.” ROMANS 16:6