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Bacolod City, Philippines Saturday, July 9, 2016
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Twinkling
with Ninfa Leonardia
OPINIONS

Is the pork coming back?

Ninfa Leonardia Is it true that there is now a proposal, which is likely to be approved, that will grant members of Congress, in both Houses P80 million per year? Hello, is that not a cousin of the much despised pork barrel? But the presumptive new Speaker of the House of Representatives does not want to call it “pork barrel.” “Don't say ‘pork'”, he was quoted as saying. All right then, will “porcine” or “oink-oink” allowance do?

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I'm sure the members of Congress who served in the last three years are griping because they were not able to enjoy the, er, “oink-oink allowance”, because it had been a stopped then. Just imagine, it may be back even before those who are facing charges for abusing their shares are still awaiting judgment. Three senators have been detained, and some congressmen are on tenterhooks over the cases pending against them involving the, er, “Oink-oink” money of which P200 million was given to Senators and P70 million to congressmen.

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At last President Duterte has decided he cannot help hurting the feelings of Bongbong Marcos and has given Vice President Leni Robredo a cabinet post, and an important one at that, the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council where she can be of great help to homeless Filipinos. It means that where Meetings No. one and No. 2 were only “cordial”, Number 3 was definitely warmer. Oh, and did you see that naughty comic character in one of the national dailies who said Duterte was giving Leni a “chikboy look”? Maliciosos!

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I think I have to mention this again although we have repeatedly informed our letter-writers about this in the past. We love getting feedback in the form of letters to the editor, but we have a requirement due to space limitations, that such letter should not exceed one page typewritten, double spaced for us to consider publishing them. We have been a bit lenient lately, but have started getting three-paged letters, which we have to cut drastically. Note that we only have a few pages, barely enough for the news, columns and articles of interest. So please, do edit your own thoughts so we can get along.

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I congratulate Senate President Franklin Drilon for immediately taking the initiative to file the bill that would create the Constitutional Convention that will amend our existing one. The move is very timely because our present Constitution is almost 30 years old already and so much has changed, not only in our country, but in the entire world as well. Not in the time of the former charter did we know such problems as drug addiction and drug trading and pushing. That is why the 1987 Constitution has not dealt with it as it should have.

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It is also significant that the choice Senator Drilon made on the system of changing our charter is a popular one, because I hear, even the new president is for it, and members of both the Senate and the House of Representatives appear to be in favor of it, too. I have doubts about other methods, like the Constituent Assembly which could not be representative of as many as possible. We have to expect, however, that even if the changes are made, they may no longer affect the present administration that has to leave in six years. Unless, of course, an extension will be considered and approved by the Con-Con, which we hope not.

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But we can have guesses as to what some of the most controversial items will be sought to be included. For one, there is divorce, a long existing bone of contention that has seemed to become acceptable to more during the past decades. For another, there will be the bid for rights by the LGBT community – the Lesbians, Gays, Bisexual, and Transgenders, who are coming up with demands of their own from society that they would wish covered by law. Even our methods of voting, and such units as the barangays and the Sangguniang Kabataan will be seeking attention too. For sure the Con-Con will use up an entire presidential term to accomplish these.

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The new president is reported by his mouthpieces to be in favor of the Freedom of Information Bill. Of course we did not hear that from him directly because he has refused to talk to the media. But what kind of freedom is he advocating when we cannot even be free to ask him and get information directly from “the horse's mouth”, figuratively speaking? I guess my initial suspicion is true, that he does not want to talk into the media himself because he is not sure of what will come out of his mouth. But what colorless reports we are getting from Malacañang these days. Second-hand only.*

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