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Local Gov’t Code role in Charter drive cited by ULAP
« on: October 21, 2016, 10:05:46 AM »
Local Gov’t Code role in Charter drive cited by ULAP
By ELENA L. ABEN

[The following is a reprint from the Tuesday, October 10, 2006 issue of the Manila Bulletin.]

The unprecedented access by Filipino voters to information on Charter reform and the rapid gathering of voters’ signatures in support of People’s Initiative were possible because of mechanisms for people empowerment created under the landmark Local Government Code, Bohol Gov. Erico Aumentado, president of the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP), said yesterday on the occasion of the 16th anniversary of the Local Government code which was enacted Oct. 19, 1991.

“This Code has kept ordinary Filipinos in the mainstream of local politics and decision-making and proved that people power, far from being an empty principle, is already being commonly employed by Filipinos in political, social, economic, and related decisions from provincial down to the barangay levels,” he said.

The Code’s people empowerment provisions enabled local officials and allied citizens groups to gather almost nine million signatures in support of People’s Initiative to amend the Constitution, Aumentado said.

“We believe in people power because we’ve been employing it to change the lives of Filipinos in our provinces, cities, municipalities and barangays. We’d like to use people’s power as well on a grand scale – the way it has been envisioned – in order to change the country’s system of government to improve governance,” he added.

Aumentado said key provisions in the Code, enacted 15 years ago on Oct. 10, promote closer ties between local government units and civil society.

The Code mandates public officials, from governors to barangay councilmen or kagawads, to consult local constituencies and encourage them to take part in making decisions on vital issues in their respective communities.

“People empowerment through involvement and active participation in government as provided for in the 1991 Code has made it easier for ULAP to initiate information campaigns on Charter reform, specifically the shift to unicameral parliamentary government,” Aumentado said.

He cited provisions of the Code that make non-government organizations partners in the pursuit of local autonomy; guarantee the participation of the people in local councils and boards; allow the recall of local officials; and mandate the conduct of consultations, public hearings, initiatives, and referendums on urgent local concerns.

Under the people’s initiative for Charter change, Aumentado said, almost nine million Filipino voters endorse the petition, of which 6.3 million were verified by local election registrars.

The signatures became the basis for the ULAP and Sigaw ng Bayan to seek with the Commission on Elections the setting of the date of a national referendum on the proposed Charter amendment.

After Holy Week, ULAP and Sigaw ng Bayan launched a 100-day “ULAP sa TOP” series of consultative meetings on constitutional reform in all 79 provinces of the country.

This, Aumentado said, greatly helped crystallize popular support for the proposed parliamentary shift.

Eastern Samar Gov. Ben Evardone, spokesman of the League of Provinces of the Philippines (LPP), said the holding of barangay assemblies, which the Code mandates, and the creation of local government leagues have expanded people’s role in local government administration and helped “promote united and concerted action for the attainment of countrywide development goals.”

Aumentado who heads both ULAP and LPP, and Sigaw ng Bayan spokesman Raul Lambino filed the petition for people’s initiative with the Comelec on Aug. 25 and the petition for certiorari and mandamus with the Supreme Court on Sept. 4, both on behalf of the 6.3 million verified petitioners after the poll body rejected their joint petition.

Published on Oct 15, 2006 by The Bohol Standard Newspaper

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