Anti-pork forums, statements drumbeat rallies this week

Sep. 10, 2013

Davao Today

Davao City–Groups in Davao City will hold simultaneous activities in line with Wednesday’s “Edsa Tayo” prayer rally and Friday’s protest march.

Pagbabago Movement for Change Southern Mindanao announced it will hold a forum on Wednesday afternoon at Ateneo de Davao University dubbed “the anatomy of Philppine politics” with Bayan Muna Rep. Atty. Carlos Zarate, AdDU College of Law Dean Atty. Manuel Quibod, among the speakers.

The youth alliance Youth Act Now will also stage a protest march.

On Friday, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan will stage a protest march from Freedom Park, Roxas Boulevard to Rizal Park in San Pedro Street.

Pagbabago has been holding forums the past week to demand for the abolition of the pork barrel funds in Congress and office of the President.

“These critical demands should be addressed by government with full transparency. We call on our fellow Filipinos to participate in the various actions and initiatives for this purpose most especially the big protest actions,” their unity statement reads.

“Despite the widespread public outcry for the abolition of all forms of pork barrel funds, President Aquino continues to disregard his “bosses” and persists in retaining the system of discretionary, lump sum appropriations for individual members of Congress and the Chief Executive in the national budget, although with a new mechanism for its release.

“We must remove the discretionary power of individual politicians and government officials over such funds for greater transparency and accountability,” their statement further said.

Leading signatories for this statement include Pagbabago convenors Mother Mary John Mananzan OSB and UP Professor Judy Taguiwalo;Fr. Marlon Lacal from Association of Major Religious Superiors; Fr. Joe Dizon, Solidarity Philippines; Mae Paner, Juana Change Movement; NBN-ZTE deal whistleblower Engr. Jun Lozada; National Council of Churches in the Philippines General Secretary Fr. Rex Reyes; Makabayan Coalition’s Satur Ocampo; bloggers Tonyo Cruz and Katrina Stuart Santiago; cultural artists and more.

In a forum last Friday, Center for People Empowerment in Governance (CenPEG) fellow Professor Roland Simbulan said that the way to abolish the pork barrel system is to “abolish” the political dynasties that reign in municipal and provincial politics.

Bayan Muna and its allied partylists under the Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives have filed House Bill 1535 calling for the abolition of the pork barrel in the General Appropriations Bill for the 2014 budget

Gabriela partylist Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan dared members of the majority bloc, who earlier called for the abolition of pork barrel funds, to also call for the abolition of President Aquino’s lump sum and discretionary funds.

“The majority’s initiative simply concentrates the pork to but a few individuals. The nature of funds being discretionary makes it vulnerable to abuse and misuse. It is still subject to become a tool of patronage politics,” said Ilagan.

“Go beyond the PDAF, and manifest an intent to include Presidential special purpose funds in your quest for accountability, fairness, and good governance,” Gabriela Rep. Emmi de Jesus challenged her fellow lawmakers.

Church groups aside from the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines also joined in the call for the abolition of congressional and presidential pork.

The Iglesia Filipina Independiente Supreme Council of Bishops called the corruption of the pork barrel as “taking money from the beggar’s plate or taking a bowl of porridge from the hands of the poor dying of hunger, done repeatedly year after year. We thus see the pork barrel scam as another manifestation of systematic injustice bred by bureaucratic corruption that arises from the country’s bankrupt political system.”

The Clergy Discernment also issued a statement signed by 34 Catholic clergy that challenged the Aquino government to address “the culture of political corruption.”

“We strongly urge our national leaders, from the executive, the legislative, and the judiciary branches of the Government, to examine the deeper roots of the pork barrel scam, and to address in particular the culture of political corruption that they as politicians have created and perpetuated to serve their own interest,” the statement read.

It added that “(I)t is this culture that has bred and nurtured the cancer of political dynasties and patronage in our beloved country. It has spawned and reinforced the “epal” syndrome and the mix up of personal interests and official functions.”

Various groups have agreed to hold another protest rally on September 21 on the occasion of the 41st anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law by the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.  It was in Marcos’ time that the term “crony capitalism” was brought to public consciousness.  (Tyrone A. Velez/

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