By By Fernan A. Gianan
LGUs misunderstanding the public works ban
posted 26 days ago  ·  
302 views  ·   0 comments  ·  

The Supreme Court order for Judge Genie G. Gapas-Agbada to reassume her post as RTC Executive Judge and Presiding Judge of RTC Branch 42 certainly benefited not only the people’s opinion of the justice system but also those accused who were languishing in district jails.

For two months late last year, the entire Hall of Justice had no hearings of the pending criminal and civil cases. Following the reassumption of Judge Lelu Contreras in Branch 43 in the first week of December, it took another three months for the other sala to resume hearings with a regular judge.

In only 11 days, RTC Branch 42 cleared nearly 150 cases off its docket, which Judge Agbada could not have accomplished without the efforts of lawyers of the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) and private defense counsels who offer their accused’s decision to enter into plea bargaining, the consent of the private complainants themselves, the law enforcement officers in so-called victimless crimes like violation of forestry laws and illegal drugs, and the conformity of the prosecutors.

These parties, it should be stated, are the ones who make it possible for the Courts to cut short the usually lengthy period in which a case moves through the justice system. If either the private complainant, law enforcement officer or the prosecutor objects to the offer of the accused, the case goes to trial, with decision most likely months or years away.

For RTC Branch 43, it has disposed of 43 cases for the month of March, with only two going through a full-blown trial and the rest decided on the basis of a voluntary guilty plea or plea bargaining.

*****

There are some local government units which are unknowingly going into a state of paralysis due to a faulty interpretation of the public works ban being enforced by the Commission on Elections in connection with the May 13, 2019 national and local elections.

According to several informed sources, certain LGU officials are not processing disbursements at all until May 12, 2019 on the basis of Sections 1 and 2 of COMELEC Resolution No. 10511.

Both provisions of the resolution provides that no public official or employee shall release, disburse or expend any public funds for any and all kinds of public works projects. But there are exceptions: maintenance of existing and/or completed public works projects and work undertaken by contract through public bidding held, or by negotiated contract awarded, before the March 29, 2019 start of the campaign period.

In the town of San Andres, the processing of several disbursements concerning infrastructure projects undertaken before the campaign period have been delayed due to this erroneous interpretation of the provisions of Resolution No. 10511.

It is clearly stated in the provisions that the ban or prohibition “shall not apply to on-going public works projects commenced before the campaign period or similar projects under foreign agreements.”

*****

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) in Virac has expressed its deep concern over kites now being seen flying over the capital town this summer, as some of the kites are being flown right in the flight path of commercial planes taking off or landing at Virac airport.

An increasing number of the airborne paper-and-bamboo devices have been noticed in past weeks, with some of them bearing the names of local candidates.

Already, at least two power interruptions are being blamed on kites falling on power lines of the First Catanduanes Electric Cooperative, Inc. (FICELCO).

One of the errant kites got entangled in the main distribution line in barangay San Vicente, causing a short circuit that damaged several insulators at a nearby electric pole and led to a two-hour brownout.

*****

GOOD NEWS AND BAD NEWS The attorney tells the accused, “I have some good news and some bad news.”

    “What’s the bad news?” asks the accused.

    “The bad news is, your blood is all over the crime scene, and the DNA tests prove you did it.”

    “What’s the good news?”

    “Your cholesterol is 130.”


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