By EARL O. CONDEZA
DAVAO CITY – An alliance of student organizations urged government to re-channel the controversial pork barrel of lawmakers to the ailing state-ran schools.
The Youth for Accountability and Truth Now (Youth ACT Now) Davao Chapter, also asked authorities to prosecute Janet Lim-Napoles, the principal figure in the P10-billion pork barrel scandal.
Malaya Genotiva, spokesperson of the National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP)Davao chapter and a member of Youth Act Now, said student groups nationwide would call on government to abolish the congressional pork barrel and instead, pour the money to the government schools which have been receiving budget cuts.
In the recent Congressional budget hearing, the Commission on Higher Education recommended budget cuts to 79 of 110 state colleges and universities in the Philippines. The NUSP, a member of the Youth Act Now, said that the 110 state-ran schools needed P54 billion but the Aquino administration allocated only P39.3 billion.
The University of the Philippines system has the biggest budget cut reaching P1.43 billion.
“We want our money back. Re-channel the money to government agencies since the sole task of the legislative body of the government is just to create laws and we don’t need to transfer our addresses to the other districts just to win a scholarship from a congressman.” said Mariel Moralde, spokesperson of Anakbayan, which group both students and community youth. Anakbayan also belonged to the Youth Act Now alliance.
She warned of massive youth protests if President Benigno Aquino III remained adamant at holding on to the pork barrel system.
Moralde suspected however, that the President’s clinging to the pork barrel may be his “way of giving salaries to its allies”.
Incidentally, she disclosed that a Davao City congressman, Third District Rep. Isidro Ungab, who authored a Congressional proposal to merge all public schools in the Davao Region, also happened to be linked to Napoles’ controversial nongovernment organizations (NGOs).
Citing a report from a national newspaper, Moralde said that Ungab was among the lawmakers who allegedly gave funds to Napoles’s NGO.
“Who is Ungab? He is a member of Liberal Party,” Moralde said.
Meanwhile, Rendell Ryan Cagula, the Southern Mindanao coordinator of the Kabataan Partylist, appealed to all students and youth to join the September 11 rally in Davao City, as the city joins other areas in the country for another national indignation against the pork barrel.
The Youth Act Now said it would target to send 5,000 students and community youths to join the rally.
He said some schools in the city already took a stand against pork barrel. In other schools, like the University of Mindanao, the biggest university in Mindanao, student groups have been organizing “Paaralang Bayan” to explain the issue and inviting students to join the September 11 rally. (Earl O. Condeza, davaotoday.com)pdaf, pork barrel, students