Press Release
September 17, 2012

Talk of Senator Koko Pimentel before the Manila City Government
Flag Raising September 17, 2012


Honorable Mayor Fred Lim, Vice Mayor Isko Moreno, City Councilors, Department Heads, officers and staff, my fellow government workers, fellow Filipinos, good morning to all of you.

Give Thanks

Thank you for inviting me to share my thoughts with you this morning.

Since I am speaking before people involved in local governance, allow me to solicit your support for a particular bill of mine which I filed on the occasion of the anniversary of the Local Government Code on Oct. 10, 2011, which I have nicknamed the "Bigger Pie, Bigger Slice Bill".

Praise City of Manila's Achievements

But before I go to my legislative proposal, let me express my admiration for your city, the city of nobles, the city of the masses, the national capital of our country.

Much has been said about Manila. From being a kingdom even before the arrival of the Spanish explorers; to "becoming the distinguished and ever loyal city" of the Spanish empire; to being the Paris of the East during the American colonial period; and eventually becoming the vibrant city we have now.

The beauty that is Manila is the survivor of centuries of floods, fire, famine, epidemic, conflict, earthquakes and a world war.

Manila's characteristics of survival, of persistence and of patience have become not mere qualities exhibited by the city itself, but also by the inhabitants of Manila.

These are qualities which are essential to have, as your leaders lead you to a more modern City of Manila which is responsive to the needs of its inhabitants.

Allow me therefore to congratulate your city and your leaders for the achievements of the city of Manila which even if you wanted to, could no longer be hidden from the public's approving gaze.

Mayor Lim and Vice Mayor Isko have established 6 hospitals, that is, one per legislative district, which offer free medical services to residents and non-residents.

You have constructed 10 health centers, in addition to the existing 69, and you also have the "Health on Wheels" program which bring medical services much closer to your city's various communities.

You have two colleges which offer free education to deserving students - The Pamantasang Lungsod ng Maynila and the City College of Manila.

You have recently constructed 71 elementary and secondary schools including the President Corazon Aquino High School and the Senator Benigno Aquino Elementary School in Baseco.

Your current leadership has also successfully brought the city government's services closer to the community by establishing a city satellite office per district, from which documents from the Civil Registrar's Office may be secured or accessed by the people.

You also have your famous "Justice on Wheels".

Manila's "Womb to Tomb" program is the envy of other local government units. Your constituents enjoy wedding ceremonies, pre-natal check-ups and hassle-free child births, children's day care, quality education from kinder to college, livelihood programs, medical services like dialysis procedures, dental and dermatology services and medicines, and free burials at the North and South cemeteries. All shouldered by the city government.

Let me single out one of Mayor Lim's projects that earned my admiration. Your city's chief executive personally delivers wheelchairs to your PWDs and senior citizens on a regular basis. Mayor Lim personally teaches the recipients how to properly use the wheelchairs.

This is what true public service is all about. Your leaders must be in constant personal contact with their constituents, the masses.

Bigger Pie, Bigger Slice Bill

Now back to the proposal I mentioned earlier, which I have called the "Bigger Pie, Bigger Slice Bill".

I have proposed the amendment of Section 284 of the Local Government Code of 1991. My proposal covers two aspects.

The "Bigger Pie" refers to the tax base. Currently the LGUs IRA is based on the phrase "national internal revenue taxes", which means the taxes collected by the BIR. But the Constitution states that "Local government units shall have a just share, as determined by law, in the national taxes which shall be automatically released to them."

In short, I have proposed amending the phrase "national internal revenue taxes" into "national taxes", which to my mind refers to those taxes and other amounts collected by the entire national government and not only by the BIR.

The "Bigger Slice" refers to the sharing between the National Government and the Local Governments. Currently, the sharing is 60% to 40%. Under my proposal, even with the "Bigger Pie", the sharing should be "hating kapatid", 50-50, between the National Government and the Local Governments.

My local government expert, Mr. Terry Dumogho, has calculated that if my "Bigger Pie, Bigger Slice Bill" becomes law, if the share of LGUs is based on the collection of all national taxes and the sharing between National and Local is 50-50, then the "Share in the National Taxes" or SNT (no longer IRA) of Manila would be PHP 2,102,870,329 (2.1 billion) from the current PHP 1,705,488,913 (1.7 billion). That is an increase of PHP 397,381,415 or almost 400 million.

The benefits of the increased LGU Share in the National Taxes or SNT would also be extended all the way down to the barangays.

Since Manila already knows how to use its current IRA for the maximum benefit of your people, just imagine how much good my "Bigger Pie, Bigger Slice Bill" would do to your city if it becomes law.

So I hope that you would support the passage of the "Bigger Pie, Bigger Slice Bill".

Other Legislative Initiatives

Aside from this bill I have other legislative initiatives covering the five areas I have decided to concentrate on. I needed to limit my involvement to some core competencies because of the limited time given to me as Senator in my current term, just one year and ten months, having been proclaimed as Senator only in August of 2011, and elections are fast approaching! That is how limited my time is.

I have chosen five areas of involvement: (1) "Local Governments" where I have this so-called "Bigger Pie, Bigger Slice Bill". By bringing more resources to the local governments, it is my hope to also promote "meritocracy" among the LGUs just like what the late Jessie Robredo pursued when he was DILG Secretary; (2) "Justice" where I will file what I call the "Anti-Chamber Practice Bill" in order to preserve objectivity in our justice system, and also propose some amendments to the Speedy Trial Act in order to speed up trial and the dispensation of justice in our country; (3) "Youth" where I am for SK reform not abolition; (4) "OFWs" where I have proposed making the retention of the passports of our OFWs by their recruiters and employers a criminal act (a form of grave coercion); and (5) last but not the least, my passion, "electoral reforms" where I am proposing and supporting bills allowing the early voting of media practitioners, the designation of special ground floor voting precincts for persons with disabilities and senior citizens who already have difficulty climbing a flight of stairs, allowing internet registration and voting for overseas Filipinos in order to increase the participation in our Overseas Absentee Voting System, and to re-examine the current party-list system as it does not appear to benefit marginalized groups, the law's intended beneficiaries. Of course, I will continue to support all initiatives penalizing cheats and criminals who subvert the will of our people by massive cheating and willful manipulation of the election process.

My most radical idea, which I admit is a long shot, is the incorporation of the voters' biometrics information into the voting machines. The Board of Election Inspectors will be our first line of defense against election cheating, and it is my hope to make the machines our last line of defense for those who are able to penetrate the first line of defense. The machines will not care or even know who the local warlord is! So even if the illegal voter is the warlord's man, the machine will still not allow him to vote since his biometrics information are not stored in the machine's database.

For this ambitious plan to succeed, I am appealing to the nine million registered voters who still do not have biometrics data on file with the COMELEC, especially those who registered before 2007, to submit themselves to the COMELEC for the "validation" of their voter's registrations with the taking of their biometrics information. Because in my trips I have encountered numerous cases of fraud perpetrated against the common Filipino, I have recently launched the Kontra Pandaraya Movement (KPM) which will help the common man as well as all victims of fraud, seek redress and get justice. The Kontra Pandaraya Movement will fight and resist not only election fraud but all forms of fraud, like faulty utility billings, vanishing load, overpricing of oil products, non-compliance with environmental laws, non-remittance by employers of deducted premiums, swindling of OFWs, breach of contract in pre-need plans, non-payment of insurance claims, even cheating in sports, and a lot of other forms of fraud or pandaraya. We hope that by fighting fraud in all its manifestations, we will be helping reduce injustice in our land.

I am available to discuss with you the details of my ideas but we should do this some other time.

Conclusion: Mag tulungan tayo!

Although yours is a very progressive city, Manila is still faced with a lot of problems. But I am sure most, if not all, of these problems can and will be solved by a combination of, one, imaginative good governance, and, two, additional resources.

The first one, "Good Governance" is within your control. What you should do is to vote wisely and vote into office only competent, imaginative, concerned, and above all, honest leaders.

Since we are in a democracy, our electoral reform agenda should make sure that the true will of the people emerges victorious in all our elections.

The second one, the additional resources, will be answered by my "Bigger Pie, Bigger Slice Bill".

As the son of the father of the local government code, the local government of Manila will always have my support now that I am a Senator myself.

Feel free to approach me for anything na kaya nating gawin sa ilalim ng batas, ng ating Constitution, at ng ating konsiensya.

Mag tulungan po tayo!

At iiwanan ko po kayo ng payo na natutunan ko sa aking pakikibaka: "Pag Nasa Tama Ka, Never Give Up!" Yan po ang advice ko sa magagaling at magigiting na opisyales at mamamayan ng Lungsod ng Maynila.

God bless the officials, the public servants, and the people of Manila.

Maraming salamat po at magandang umaga po sa inyong lahat.

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