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Public endorsement, not public hearing


All I thought the  Public Hearing, conducted by the Senate Committee On Local Government, chaired by Hon Miguel (Migz) Zubiri with the presence of the Senate President, Aquilino (Koko) Pimentel III and other senators, was really intended to elicit various viewpoints and insights from the general public. To my deep frustration and utter dismay, the public hearing on the proposed Bangsmoro Basic Law held on February 9, at the Gymnasium of the Zamboanga City Polytechnic College which was supposed to start at 2:00 o’clock in the afternoon but  delayed by more than an hour for no given reason, turned out to be totally a PUBLIC LISTENING session. Let it be clear to everyone, that I am not against the conduct of public hearings in aid of legislation for as long as they are conducted properly and the outputs are maximally utilized  for the intended purpose; and in this particular public hearing, to refine and improve the proposed basic law.

Shockingly,not a single member of the audience was given the opportunity to voice out his opinion or thoughts on the proposed legislation because the entire length of time from the opening statement of the Chairman to the closing remarks was totally consumed by the invited guests and speakers. Is it not that the funds used for conducting public hearings come from the taxpayers who constitute the bulk of the general public? Why was the public entirely ignored or just treated as spectators and listeners in that particular Senate Hearing when they should  have been given the priority to express their sentiments, opinions, and insights on the issue at hand? A public hearing on  a proposed law that will affect miliions of inhabitants is a very rare oppotunity for the general public to express their ideas and opinions on the matter, but was only held exclusively for image-building, promotion, and as some said, grandstanding of senators.

What was very surprsing was the collective endorsement of the senators for the immediate passage of the Senate version of the proposed law. Even the Chairman of the Committee of Local Government and the Senate President proudly and vigorously endorsed it, calling it a landmark legislation forgetting the fact that they were there only to conduct a public hearing in aid of legislation. If their primary purpose was for the endorsement of the proposed law, then they should have not called it public hearing but SENATE PUBLIC ENDORSEMENT OR SENATE PUBLIC INFORMATION DISSEMINATION ON THE PROPOSED BANGSAMORO BASIC LAW.

Public hearing in aid of legislation, is a regulatory process intended to generate a wide range of views, perspectives, and opinions from the general public on a proposed legislation, project, or policy. The one conducting it should remain qt qll times  neutral and impartial  so as not to sway the opinion of the audience for or against a porposed policy or legislation. His main function is to moderate and regulate the conduct of the hearing so that everyone will have an equal chance of voicing out his or her perspective on a given issue, Frankly, from my point of vew, that public hearing was just called to  make a pulic declaration that the new Senate version of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law is final and  perfect and therefore, there is no longer any need of  additional inputs coming from any sector of the sovereign people.

From a taxpayer’s point of view, conducting a public hearing without the participation of the audience, is totally a  waste time, effort, and people’s money. It’s a fraud or a sham. (By Clem M. Bascar)

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