MANILA (Mabuhay) – Groups seeking the abolition of the pork barrel system will march to Luneta Park on August 25, the anniversary of last year’s #MillionPeopleMarch, to press their crusade and gather signatures for a people’s initiative to scrap all forms of discretionary spending in government.
The #abolishpork Movement, among those spearheading this year’s march, said a protest program will be held on Roxas Boulevard near the Luneta simultaneous with a sign-up drive for the people’s initiative, which has earned the support of at least 73 Catholic bishops.
Other groups joining the August 25 protest, which was officially announced at a press conference Tuesday, include the Scrap Pork Network, Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption, Concerned Citizens Movement, Babae Laban sa Katiwalian, Youth ACT Now, Whistleblowers Association, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, Artista Kontra Korapsyon, and various sectoral groups, unions and associations.
While last year’s protest fell short of the targeted million people, musician and #abolishpork spokesman Monet Silvestre said they were “able to raise public consciousness about congressional and presidential pork, patronage politics and the national budget.”
Last year’s protest was followed by successful petitions questioning the constitutionality of the Priority Development Assistance Fund, or congressional pork, and the Disbursement Acceleration Program, which critics dubbed President Benigno Aquino III’s own pork.
Despite this, Silvestre noted, “the Aquino government has found ways to maintain the corrupt pork barrel system.”
“We now see Aquino’s moves that aim to institutionalize the Disbursement Acceleration Program, as well as recent moves to maintain congressional pork through informal arrangements between departments and lawmakers. The system is truly rotten. Aquino continues to protect this system. The battle has not been won. We need to go out again, to stand up and sign up against pork,” Silvestre stressed.
In the run-up to August 25, student and youth groups will stage a noise barrage dubbed “DAPat Mag-ingay!” in front of schools on Taft Avenue, Mehan Garden, Morayta and Katipunan from 4 p.m. Friday, August 15.
On August 23, anti-pork groups will hold a People’s Congress in Cebu that is expected to approve the draft bill that will be the subject of the people’s initiative.
Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. urged people around the country to undertake their own protest actions on August 25 “to demand Aquino’s accountability and to push for the abolition of all forms of pork.”
He also urged people not to fall for the ploy of quarters calling for a second term for Aquino, saying this was “meant to distract the public from the issue of accountability in the DAP and the continuing existence of the pork barrel system.”
“Instead of discussing a second term for Aquino, or the political tie-ups and alliances among the politicians, we should be discussing issues such as the hidden congressional pork exposed by (ACT) Rep. (Antonio) Tinio. We should be discussing how to make Aquino accountable for DAP and how to thwart his plan to make the illegal DAP schemes part of the 2015 budget,” he said. (MNS)