24 August 2013

[FYI in Manila Bulletin] PNoy Unfazed by Anti-Pork rally

by Madel Sabater Namit and Ellson A. Quismorio

There is nothing to be afraid of!

President Benigno S. Aquino III said this yesterday in the wake of the scheduled “Million People March” on August 26 at the Luneta Park calling for the abolition of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or the “pork barrel” that has been the subject of controversies due to alleged misuse, including the funneling of billions of pesos to bogus non-government organizations (NGOs) by fugitive businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles.

Why should we be intimidated when there are more people who are joining us in reforming our system? I’d like to say many thanks to them, Aquino said in Filipino.

Yesterday, however, he announced its abolition. 

It is unclear whether the President’s declaration will have an impact on the scheduled rally.

But as of yesterday, the FOI Youth Initiative (FYI), a national network of 129 youth and student organizations pushing for the passage of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Law, committed to join the “Million People March.”

The FYI said it will attend the march with the Right to Know, Right Now! Coalition, a multi-sectoral alliance of civil society organizations.

“We are in solidarity with the call to abolish the pork barrel. Beyond this, we affirm that one of the solutions to curtail corruption that stems from patronage politics is the enactment of the FOI Law,” said FYI convener Allan Pangilinan in a statement.

“Our presence there as young people coming together to join fellow Filipinos is our clear statement that we have had enough of the old ways of traditional politics,” Pangilinan added.

The much-clamored passage of FOI had been one of the hot topics in the House of Representatives before the billion-peso pork barrel scam grabbed hogged the headlines over a month ago.

“Once we have FOI, we will be able to guarantee participatory governance that will ultimately empower the people to become active partners in watching over our public officials whom we elected into office,” Pangilinan, a philosophy student, said.

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