26 August 2013

[FYI in Manila Times] More groups join march to press PDAF abolition

by Robertzon F. Ramirez (with reports from Ritchie A. Horario, Catherine Valiente, and AFP)


Labor and youth groups will join Monday’s pork barrel protest march at Rizal Park in Manila, an event which organizers expect will draw at least a million people.

Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) and FOI Youth Initiative on Sunday said they will march to Luneta to join the clamor for the abolition of the pork barrel system.

Retired Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz also confirmed his attendance, saying he wants to show that he is against the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of lawmakers.

Cruz said joining the march was his personal decision and not that of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).

But he said he will not be surprised if Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle shows up because he “cried” over the alleged misuse of legislator’s pork barrel.

The archbishop defended the Catholic Church’s involvement in sociopolitical issues, saying that politicians are abusing and violating one of God’s ten commandments.

“I will enter politics if government officials are exempted from the Ten Commandments one of which is thou shall not steal,” he said.

As of Sunday afternoon, nearly 18,000 people had confirmed they were joining the march that will culminate in what the organizers said is a peaceful “picnic get together” in Rizal Park.

Religious, professional, business and leftist organizations have also signified interest in joining the protest.

“We are aghast, disgusted and enraged at such a wanton display of shamelessness by those who we elected to serve and protect the people,” read a manifesto of support signed by some alumni of the Philippine Military Academy who are no longer in active duty.

“We cannot and we will not tolerate this any more even those from among our own,” it said.

Another group, PM, called on the people who will join today’s rally to demand the realignment of the pork barrel to a fund for universal social services.

Renato Magtubo, PM chairman, said social services should not be based on the discretion of politicians but should be accessible as a matter of right.

Magtubo said the group’s chapters in Cebu, Bacolod, Iloilo and Iligan will join similar activities in the provinces.

“The PDAF, Presidential Social Fund and other incarnations of the pork barrel must be directly allotted to social services that will be accessible to all Filipinos and not be subject to discretion of political patrons. In this way, the evil of patronage and corruption is removed from the delivery of necessary social services such as Philhealth coverage, socialized housing, scholarships, farmers’ subsidies and public employment,” Magtubo said.

He added that the reforms announced by President Benigno Aquino 3rd were not enough.

“At best the reforms may curb rampant corruption but PNoy’s insistence in maintaining the pork barrel means he is strengthening it as an instrument of patronage,” Magtubo said.

The FYI group said its members will also attend the rally “to add our voices to the growing frustrations of the Filipino people over the many instances of corruption in government. This should be the resounding public clamor for FOI that the President and our representatives in both Houses of Congress must hear,” the group said in a statement.

Other organizations will hold simultaneous rallies in Baguio, Cebu, Davao, Iloilo, Dumaguete, Cagayan De Oro, Dagupan, Puerto Princesa and other key cities.

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