Negrenses push end to PDAF system-A A +A
Monday, August 26, 2013
AROUND 2,000 Negrenses, who joined Monday’s nationally-coordinated protest, called for the abolition of the controversial “pork barrel” or the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of lawmakers and senators and the entire pork barrel system in the country.
Rallyists and participants from all walks of life -- elite, civil society, religious, business, transport, professionals and students, among others -– gathered at the Negros Occidental Capitol Lagoon in the event dubbed "Tipon sa Lagoon" and signed a manifesto calling for the scrapping of the whole PDAF system.
Raymund Javellana, one of the convenors of the Negrosanon Kontra Korapsyon and president of the Alliance of Negrense Tourism Stakeholders, said they will hold a post event analysis and that they are going to draft a template for future rallies.
He said they are demanding for the abolition of the whole pork barrel system, believing that the funds are just being used for political game and it has become the main source of corruption in the Philippines.
"We are calling for the immediate abolition of the pork barrel system in the country after it has clearly become the worst example of immoral and wanton use of public funds that should have resulted to real, concrete and sustainable socio development especially in the countryside," Javellana cited the manifesto which was signed Monday.
He said they have gathered more than 2,000 signatures and their target is between 3,000 and 5,000 signatures in the province.
Assessing PNoy’s Statement
When asked about President Benigno "PNoy" Aquino III’s announcement for the eventual abolition of the pork barrel, Javellana said the President should just be careful about his moves.
"That's why he needs the people's support," he said.
He also announced during Monday’s rally that more than a million signatures were already gathered nationwide.
In Metro Manila alone, rallyists number around 300,000, media reports indicated.
PDAF abuse probe
Meanwhile, the manifesto signed Monday also called for the immediate investigation, prosecution, conviction, and punishment of all those who misused and abused the pork barrel funds.
We are enraged by how some of our legislators and public officials and line agency heads, in connivance with unscrupulous non-government organizations and their accomplices, have perpetuated systematic plunder and deliberate abuse of PDAF, the group further said in the manifesto read during the rally.
In a statement, Bayan-Negros and United Negros Drivers and Operators Center said the president only changed the name of PDAF to "Special Purpose and Discretionary Fund." It is clear that the presidential pork barrel could still be utilized by the administration for kickbacks, bribes, and political patronage, the groups said.
PNoy’s PDAF increased
Bayan further said the presidential pork barrel have increased from P68 billion in 2011; P117 billion in 2012; and P139 billion this year.
The Peace Advocates of Negros, meanwhile, in a statement also demanded for the scrapping of the pork barrel because of the government's failure to safeguard the interest of the people because of corruption in the pork barrel system, accounting of the spent pork barrel, and “investigate and punish those who are guilty of abusing the pork barrel to show the government's political will to stop corruption and prosecute those who are involved in the P10 billion Pork Barrel scam.”
"We acknowledge the president's response to the people's mounting anger. This is a positive sign but pork is not just PDAF. Pork means all modes of public spending that has little or no accountability that includes billions and billions of discretionary funds in all branches of government," the civil society further stated.
For the Freedom from Debt Coalition, Aquino's announcement of abolishing PDAF falls short of the demands for justice emanating from the massive public outcry against the pork barrel.
"PNoy's policy declaration is double-edged. While he abolishes the PDAF, he only decries the abuses in the pork barrel institution which includes less visible forms of pork and more importantly, he still accommodates every congressman and senator to propose and therefore, horse-trade, on specific projects for specific districts or constituents. The door thus remains open to pork," the group further stated.
Meanwhile, a group called Loacbianz -- composed of 30 young individuals coming from different walks of life -- also held the same rally at Centermall in San Carlos City.
Prior to the rally, the group held a Frisbee game to peacefully express their sentiments against what they called as devastating pork barrel scam that is making the Philippines a laughing stock in the international level.
The scam has caused so much poverty in San Carlos City which is deeply rooted to corruption, and the youth believes that it is high time to say no to corruption and hope that through their collective and small efforts their voices will be heard through peaceful social media protest, Loacbianz further said in a statement.
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on August 27, 2013.