Comelec warns pols against premature campaigning
After disqualifying Gov. ER Ejercito of Laguna for overspending in the 2013 elections, the Commission on Elections warned that a hundred other politicians are also being investigated and face disqualification for the same offense. Other politicians are also in danger of disqualification for premature campaigning.
Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said at a press forum last week that it is not only Vice President Jejomar Binay who is prematurely campaigning but many other politicians also are, and he warned all of them to desist or be sanctioned by the Comelec.
Under the guise of “feeling the pulse of the people,” Binay has been town-hopping, shaking hands and delivering speeches in full campaign mode. The campaign period is still a year away.
“He is not the only one,” Jimenez said, “many other politicians are doing the same thing. The Comelec warning is being issued not only against VP Binay but against all of them.”
So take heed, “pasaway” politicians. The Comelec, accused of being laggard in enforcing election rules, is finally showing its teeth and claws.
* * *
The prospect of higher fuel prices, more traffic congestion and possible fuel shortages is real because of the coming transfer of the oil depot from Pandacan. The Supreme Court has affirmed a 2009 resolution of the Manila City council ordering the removal of the oil depot because of the danger it poses to the Pandacan community. The succeeding city council reversed the decision and reclassified Pandacan into a heavy industry zone to allow the depot to remain, precisely to prevent fuel price increases.
Pandacan hosts the huge oil tanks where the Big Three oil companies (Petron, Shell, and Chevron) keep gasoline refined in their refineries in Batangas. The gasoline is pumped to the tanks from the refineries through undersea pipes. Barges also chug across Manila Bay and up the Pasig River to deliver fuel to the depot. Oil tankers then deliver the fuel to gas stations all over the country.
With the depot gone, fuel will have to be trucked from Batangas for delivery all over the country. Necessarily, delivery will be slow and more costly. Also, the oil companies will have to buy many more oil tankers. By the time it reaches the consumer, the fuel will cost several pesos higher per liter.
Besides, because of the increased number of oil tankers out on the streets, the highway from Batangas, as well as the already clogged narrow streets in the cities and towns, will be clogged with traffic, resulting in late deliveries not only of the fuel but also of other produce, as well as in delayed arrivals of travelers at their destinations. In turn, that will result in more wasted fuel and more air pollution from more vehicle exhausts.
I have a suggestion to help ease the problem: Why not relocate the depot to an islet—either existing or to be reclaimed—in the middle of Manila Bay. The depot would be away from communities where people live so that even if a fire breaks out in the depot, no home would be in danger. It would be easy to connect the oil pipelines from Batangas to this islet. At the same time, it would be easy for fuel barges to deliver supplies to and from the islet. A bridge or causeway can be built from the islet to the mainland.
If the depot were relocated in the middle of a vacant land somewhere, the surrounding area would not remain vacant for long.
People, especially squatters, would build their homes nearer and nearer to the depot until it would be another Pandacan. The site of the present depot in Pandacan was vacant when the oil tanks were built there. Through the years, however, homes crowded around it.
But if the depot were located in the middle of the bay, no human habitation would be able to move close to it.
* * *
The coconut levy was really intended for the coconut farmers. It was collected from every kilo of copra produced and sold by farmers. When the fund grew into billions of pesos, greedy public officials and businessmen did not want to let go of it and return it to the coconut farmers. They concocted all sorts of excuses to retain control of the fund.
Finally, President Aquino saw the light. He will issue an executive order and certify a bill on the coco levy as urgent for enactment by Congress.
The fund should not just be divided among the coconut farmers and returned to them.
Coconut farmers are among the poorest farmers in the country and the industry suffered much during the recent onslaught of powerful typhoons. Millions of coconut trees were toppled. Old trees are being cut down to be sawn into lumber. A massive replanting of coconuts is needed and the coco fund must be used wisely to benefit not only the farmers but the whole industry.
With the cash in farmers’ hands, it may just fritter away. The fund is big enough so that its interest earnings are big enough to fund whatever the farmers and the industry need. The principal should not be touched so that it would remain a steady and unending source of funds for the industry.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.