May 21st, 2016 12:33 AM
A hardly-known provision in the law that allows the people to initiate the enactment of laws is being tested in one of the prime tourist destinations of Cebu province, Bantayan Island, by advocates of a revolutionary proposal on how to use the country’s roads and reduce pollution—equal sharing of streets between motor vehicles and human traffic.
Timing it with Earth Day 2016 on April 22, the advocates of road sharing filed a petition at the town council of Santa Fe, one of the towns on Bantayan Island, to divide all roads in the town in half. Half would be for vehicles and the other half to be turned into walkways and bicycle lanes.ON RESORT ISLAND, road sharing Advocates test law-may 21, 2016
Led by youth leaders Regine Ilusistrimo and Jay Contento, the advocates are testing a little known law that allows 50 voters of a village or 100 of a town to directly propose an ordinance, or local law, through a petition in the village or town council.
The People’s Initiative Act gives the council 30 days to approve the proposed ordinance. Failure to act on the proposal empowers citizens to petition the Commission on Elections for a referendum on the proposed law.
The road-sharing advocates marched with local village officials, health workers, women’s groups and persons with disabilities from the Santa Fe town plaza to the municipal hall. At least 24 lawyers from different parts of the country and the world gave their support, too.
While the law required the signatures of only 100 voters, the children submitted a petition signed by more than 600 voters and 1,200 children and youth leaders.
At the filing of the petition, Ilusistrimo explained the reason for the initiative. “Please give us a place to walk and bike safe from accidents,” a statement released by the advocates quoted the 12-year-old as saying during the filing of the petition.
Justin Rose, an international environmental law professor at the University of South Pacific who went to Santa Fe from Australia to document the event, said the petition “is an act of great courage to begin the process of mind shift in the fossil fuel-based transportation systems.”
Lawyers who supported the children’s petition said the road-sharing principle is already mandated by an existing law, Executive Order No. 774.
They said EO 774 requires two departments—interior and public works—to heed the principle of “those who have less in wheels must have more in roads.” (T. Bergonia)