PCL upbeat with new move to grant it contempt, subpoena powers

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/20 June) – The 18,000-strong Philippine Councilors League said it was buoyed up by fresh moves in the Senate to revive the proposal that would give the municipal, city and provincial legislative bodies the power to cite for contempt and issue subpoenas to persons and entities.

In his report to the 2nd Board Meeting of the Philippine Councilors’ League here on Friday night, PCL national chairman Alan D. Zulueta said the fresh push to grant them contempt powers emanated from the Senate committee on local governments headed by Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

“That proposal was actually discussed in the Lower House but it did not progress. Some of the concern was on exempting the Congress [representatives] because they said that they are higher in position than the different Sanggunian,” Zulueta said.

The lack of subpoena powers on the part of local councils has allowed persons and private entities to snub or reject any request for their appearance in public hearings and regular formal sessions of these bodies.

The move to revive the proposal came in the separate move of the PCL to submit to Malacanang and Congress proposed amendments to the Local Government Code of 1991, which included the proposal for higher internal revenue allotment.

“There are other proposals that might be added during the plenary and the formulation of the final sets of recommendations [on Saturday],” Zulueta said. There was also a plan to seek a review of the Government Service Insurance System that would allow councilors and staff to be admitted into the agency’s program.

So far, the PCL has put up new initiatives such as the creation of a legal team that would assist its members in legal matters “like when they face charges in the Ombudsman”.

It has also upgraded its hostel in Quezon City to accommodate more councilors who go there for training and education. Zulueta said that it added a second floor to the building to accommodate 24 councilors at a time “so that it would not be too expensive and draining to our resources the next time you avail of the trainings that we have”.

He said the PCL has also conferred with the Commission on Higher Education to accredit the training and formal education of its members to their baccalaureate, masters or doctoral degrees.

He said it has asked senators and other moneyed politicians to chip in to the funds of the PCL and disclosed that Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano has given P5 million and Sen. Bong Revilla P2 million

“We would not stop seeking for more donors,” he added.

Meanwhile, Marcos told the PCL board meeting here attended by 1,500 councilors that his committee has revived the proposed amendment “because the situation has dramatically changed during the last 20 years since the Local Government Code was enacted”.

“Towns have become cities and new local government units were created. And so the allocation has to get bigger and more services and concerns have to be addressed,” he said. (MindaNews)