Baguio rallies vs pork barrel

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Monday, August 26, 2013


FOR social worker Inglay Fokno and her 10-year-old granddaughter, Amber, the pork barrel funds must be abolished once and for all.

Inglay shared they discussed over breakfast on Monday how they can express discontent over President Benigno Aquino III’s inaction on the pork barrel scandal. For them his pronouncements Friday to abolish the PDAF did not convince them there will be substantial change to the fund distribution scheme.

"My granddaughter asked me about the pork barrel so I told her that these are funds given to our senators and congressmen and they have been misusing it," she said.

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"We decided to join the rally as my granddaughter asked me 'What if these politicians will not squander these funds will we have faster transportation?' and I was motivated even more to join," she said.

"I joined the rally because when I heard that senators are misusing our money, I find it unfair," Amber said.

Inglay and her four other family members, all in white shirts, were among the more than 700 people who gathered around noon Monday at Burnham Park's Rose Garden to call for the abolition of the priority development assistance fund and holding those who are at fault accountable.

As early as 11 a.m., the Tongtongan Ti Umili-Cordillera People's Alliance and other progressive groups, including Kilusang Mayo Uno, Kabataan Party-list and Ornus held their noise barrage and protest rally at the Igorot Park along Harrison Road to demand the abolition of the PDAF and to prosecute lawmakers involved in the scam.

The group moved from Harrison Road to Burnham Park's Rose Garden where they joined other protesting residents.

Business, religious and non-government organizations, meanwhile, started gathering at the Rose Garden around noon to express disappointment with how national government is handling of the controversy.

Cordillera People's Alliance secretary general Abigail Anongos said the pork barrel system has to go.

"Billions of pesos have already gone to ghost projects, crooked politicians, including questionable and fake non government organizations at the expense of the people especially historically marginalized and neglected sectors like indigenous peoples," Anongos said.

"For so many years Cordillera congressmen have been receiving millions in their PDAF. But the broad masses of the Cordillera indigenous peoples have yet to taste or see the development that is due to them," she said.

Concerned residents, through local Facebook groups in Baguio, expressed disgust at the PDAF of legislators and vowed to take their protest offline and into the streets.

Religious and business groups such as the UCCP and Protestant Churches and nuns from the Diocese of Baguio also joined in the protest.

University of the Philippines Baguio Chancellor Raymundo Rovillos also joined some 100 protesting students from the State U.

The Baguio City Police Office fielded some 15 policemen mostly from their Traffic Management Branch to ensure the smooth flow of traffic, secure the parks and maintain peace and order. He stressed in past rallies there have been no incidence of violence in the city and expected the protests to be peaceful.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on August 27, 2013.

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