Saturday, September 6, 2008
Time and money can derail the recall initiative vs. Among Ed
As I write this Among Ed has safety reached Los Angeles for a series of speaking engagements before various Fil-Am organizations. He will also hold dialogue with the civil society groups foremost of which is PamagCUSA, a US-based organization that advances good citizenship through volunteerism.
Back home, the partisan news stories and editorials of Sun Star Pampanga depict that the recall initiative against Among Ed is already gaining ground. This perception is further bolstered by the moral support on the recall move given by a number of mostly controversial priests headed by an equally controversial monsignor, a son of my town Minalin who is believed to be close to the Pinedas of Lubao and Malacanang having had a hand in the appointment of one regional director in Central Luzon.
Let us not lose hope. The recall initiative will likely face formidable challenges along the way. Allow me to explain them.
1. Time Constraint
Per COMELEC Resolution No. 7505, no recall shall be held within one (1) year before the holding of the next regular election. What is the implication of this? This means the holding of a recall election is prohibited by law from 10 May 2009 until 10 May 2010, the date of the next regular election. In other words, the COMELEC has to set the recall election in Pampanga not later than 9 May 2009. After this date, no recall election is allowed by law.
Stated otherwise, Kambilan has only eight (8) months to complete the whole process of recall initiative which involves gathering of required signatures, filing of petition with the COMELEC, validating the sufficiency of the petition in form and substance and legal battles both in the COMELEC and the Supreme Court. This is a long and tedious process. Unless there’s “kingly” intervention, I don’t think the entire process of the recall initiative could be finished in a span of eight months.
2. Inadequate Budget
When top lawyer Romulo Macalintal downplayed the feasibility of a recall election due to lack of funds for that purpose, I did not believe him. Well, I believe him now after reading Republic Act No. 9498 also known as 2008 General Appropriations Act. In the COMELEC’s budget for fiscal year 2008, an amount of Php 46,894,000 is appropriated for the conduct and supervision of elections and other political exercises.
Out of that amount, only Php 5,000,000 is allocated for recall election that may be held. Incidentally, while Kambilan is yet to file a recall petition with the COMELEC there are about eighteen (18) recall petitions now pending in the COMELEC excluding the recall petition just recently filed against the governor of Sulu.
Given this situation, I do not think a recall election in Pampanga could push through. The COMELEC will have no funds to print ballots, conduct and supervise the election itself and pay the teachers that will man 6,461 precincts in Pampanga.
What happens if COMELEC officially declares that a recall election cannot be enforced because of insufficient or lack of funds? If there’s still time, I think the recall proponents would lobby Congress to pass a bill allocating a special funds for the conduct of a recall election in Pampanga. If this situation occurs, I do not think most of our senators, especially those seeking reelection, would support the measure for a simple reason that Among Ed is largely viewed as a political capital who can influence the political preference of the voters come election time.
I would like to ask a hypothetical question. What if the recall proponents volunteer to fund the recall election? Is there is a law allowing or prohibiting it. I don’t know. What I know is that a leading national newspaper branded the recall initiative as “shameless”. Going to the extent of funding the recall election by the proponents is not only brazen but downright unconscionable.
How ironic! The recall petition can prosper because of sufficient money being used by the proponents in the signature-gathering but the recall election itself cannot prosper because of the lack of it.
Note : Photo courtesy of PamagCUSA website