In Negros Oriental people’s Initiative vs pork falls short w/ 6T signatures
Juancho R. Gallarde, Judy Flores Partlow (The Freeman) - March 31, 2015 - 10:00am

DUMAGUETE CITY, Philippines – The initial batch of voters’ signatures gathered from the different parishes of the Diocese of Dumaguete has not yet reached the required quota for Negros Oriental for the nationwide People’s Initiative for the scrapping of the pork barrel system.

The Peoples Initiative to Abolish Pork in Negros Oriental had so far gathered 16,950 signatures from different parishes in the province.

Father Eric Lozada, chair of the Ecumenical Coordinating Council of Negros Oriental, said this was still short by more than 6,000 signatures from the target of 23,274, which is three percent of the 775,763 total registered voters.

The 3rd district of Negros Oriental delivered 9,437 signatures, exceeding the target of 6,335. The 2nd district however fell short with 5,382 signatures off its target of 8,025, while the 1st district gathered only 555, far from its target of 7,084. Siquijor delivered 1,204 signatures out of its 1,830 target.

Despite the shortfall, however, Dumaguete Bishop Julito Cortes was confident and optimistic that the targeted number of signatures can be achieved before the deadline in June this year.

Cortes asked the priests in various dioceses for their commitment and assurance to intensify their efforts, especially this month, in reaching the target number of signatures of registered voters for the anti-pork barrel system campaign.

Many priests still have to submit their signature sheets from their respective parishes while those with a low turnout even with a large voting population were asked by the bishop to work harder in support of the campaign.

Despite the shortage, Cortes on Monday led other church leaders in turning over the signature sheets to Provincial Election Supervisor Eddie Aba during a forum at the Marian Priests’ Center at the St. Catherine of Alexandria Cathedral compound in this city for verification.

Aba, who accepted the signature sheets, explained that his office would need the approval of the Comelec Central Office before verification of signatures can start.

Verification will take a long and tedious process, which means that the Comelec will either have to do this first or set it aside to give way for the continuing registration and validation of registered voters in preparations for the 2016 national elections.

Aba, saying that Comelec is now hard pressed with time for the coming elections, told The Freeman “there may not be enough time left” for the conduct of the verification process for the signatures. “We will however exert our best efforts to accomplish the task, once we have the permission of Comelec in Manila,” he added.

The turnover of signature sheets on Monday was held following a forum, which had 96-year-old Herminio Teves, former congressman of the 3rd district, who authored the transparency bill, which passed the third reading in the House but was not acted in the Senate.

ABOLISH PORK ACIRC COMELEC COMELEC CENTRAL OFFICE DIOCESE OF DUMAGUETE DUMAGUETE BISHOP JULITO CORTES ECUMENICAL COORDINATING COUNCIL OF NEGROS ORIENTAL FATHER ERIC LOZADA HERMINIO TEVES NEGROS ORIENTAL SIGNATURES
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