DAVAO CITY – Militant organizations would spill into the streets tomorrow to renew their call on government to rechannel the controversial pork barrel funds to basic social services that were once denied of financial support due to alleged lack of funds.
While sectors have their specific accounting of social services that were not funded, Sheena Duazo, Bayan spokesperson, said that the protest march and demonstration tomorrow would like to register their voice to the national call to abolish “all kinds of pork.”
“We urge the public to join us in the call to abolish all kinds of pork: the congressional PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund) to the ‘presidential pork’ and the DAP (Disbursement Acceleration Program) and all kinds of discretionary funds,” said Duazo.
In a news briefing, the allied organizations of Bayan reported a litany of alleged government remiss of its responsibility to cushion the impact of poverty to the disadvantaged sectors.
“Only 2.5% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product of the country is allocated to education, far from the 6% standard of Unesco (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization). The budget for state universities and colleges is only P39B far from P54B that it needs,” said Mariel Moralde, spokesperson of Anakbayan.
Despite government claim that there was no fund for it, Malacanang entered into a P10 billion research cooperation with the University of California.
“The government funded this but the patent will be owned by the University of California. Why spend billions in such projects while there is a clear lack of funds for state universities? It could have sent more Filipino youth to school,” she said.
In worse situation would be farmers, said Pedro Arnado of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (Peasant Movement of the Philippines), who emphasized that “they were just used to secure funds for corruption while support programs which should have been funded by the government were clearly lacking”.
“Fifty percent of the P10 billion pork barrel that was downloaded to Napoles’ bogus NGOs are supposed to go to farmers organizations or organizations supporting farmers but farmers did not even get a fistful (usa ka kumo) of pesticides or fertilizer or even seedlings,” he said.
KMP was the first to file a plunder case against those implicated in the pork barrel scam last October 2. Arnado said that Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala and President Aquino were included in the case.
The women’s group, Gabriela, also said that health was not given priority saying that its budget was nailed at P0.62 per day for each Filipino.
“Instead of the United Nations standard of 5% of the country’s Gross Domestic product, Aquino’s budget is only P53 billion, or 62 centavos per person per day. It’s too small and puts women and children at risk against health issues,” said Mary Ann Sapar, spokesperson of Gabriela.
“The President did not sign the increase of our wages,” said Gloria Arcenas of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers, and added that the they have asking for increase in the salary of public school teachers from P18,000 to P25,000 but was “ignored.”
Arcenas said that if the public education system were to be fully funded, it would mean more and better facilities for children and that educators are well compensated.
“We have cases, that a teacher handles 3 grade levels because of the lack of classrooms. In Davao City the average teachers handles 80 students,” said Arcenas.
“Those hired are quotas of Congress representatives under their PDAF,” she said.
Kadamay’s Benjie Badal said that while the Aquino administration “has about P10 billion for demolition but why is there nothing for housing and livelihood for the urban poor?” Badal asks.
Edil Gonzaga of the Transport group Piston said that the Aquino administration has the country’s 900,000 drivers on a “triple whammy.”
“According to our estimates drivers generate P140 million worth of taxes per day — the easiest and simplest way for the government to get tax is to collect from us drivers. Then there is the motor vehicles user charge yearly and the quarterly taxes,” he said.
Despite the taxes, Gonzaga said, the government “fails to do its task to regulate the prices of oil in the country”. (John Rizle L. Saligumba/davaotoday.com)
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