Oro joins 'Million People March'-A A +A
Tuesday, August 27, 2013
HUNDREDS of Kagay-anons from different sectors converged at the city’s Gaston Park on Monday to join thousands of Filipinos around the country and some parts of the world in expressing their anger over the P10-billion pork barrel scam.
The Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro, Balay Mindanaw Group (BMG), OFC Global, Tisaka, Gabriela, Consolacion Parish, Cathedral PYCC, Prosecutors League of the Philippines, Opol Eagles Club, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, among others, were united in their call to run after those involved in the malicious use of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and bring to justice all those who are responsible of the scam.
Fr. Nathan Lerio of the Archdiocese’s Social Action Center said they are outraged at those involved in the scam knowing that most of the Filipinos are barely surviving as they live in very poor conditions, while some legislators are busy filling their own pockets.
Lerio said the campaign to scrap the PDAF or pork barrel is just the beginning of their call to all the citizens to “rise up for love, truth, and justice to shun the evil of corruption that debases human dignity.”
He urged everyone to “join hands to create a new culture of life and compassion that transforms the system of governance.”
Lerio said they will not stop the campaign until the government will create an effective method to deliver social services that is corruption-free.
During the activity, organizers collected signatures from participants to strengthen the campaign.
Karlos Manlupig Sr., chairman of BMG, said that as Mindanaoans and as Filipinos, his group refuses to “remain victims to this despicable and criminal practice that allows legislators and their co-conspirators in the executive department, and pseudo-non government organizations to determine democracy and make the lives of the poor even more miserable, especially the Moros, the lumads, the landless farmers and frameworkers, and the exploited people in Mindanao.”
Manlupig said they joined to demand the abolition of PDAF, to persecute and punish and not just investigate the perpetrators and criminals and to seriously institutionalize participatory, accountable, responsive, and transparent governance especially the right of the people to freely access information.
Manlupig said their group is also fighting for the passage of the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill to effect transparency and good governance.
Rhodora Bulosan, secretary-general of Gabriela party-list in Northern Mindanao, said they joined with the church to fight for the rights of the women and those who are living in poverty.
Bulosan said, “This is the right time that we, the ordinary citizens, will unite to claim what is due for us, we have paid our taxes and they should not to be used by these legislators for personal growth but only for the welfare of every Filipino especially the poor.”
CdeO for Peace, a new organization initiated after the July 26 bomb blast headed by Dr. Arturo Surdilla, said they will not stop joining protest actions until justice will be served to those responsible of the blast.
Lawyer Armie Jane Borje of Citizens Battle Against corruption (CBAC) party-list agreed that all of the legislators will be held accountable for misusing public funds.
As an example, Borje cited that CBAC refused to get the funds and instead direct them to the concerned agencies for proper implementation.
Tito Mora, a concerned citizen, joined the march because he felt that the corrupt legislators are slowly killing the country.
Mora is calling for transparency not only on the pork barrel scam but also the government’s executive department down to the local barangay units.
Arnold Nadala of city information office said he is not in favor of scrapping the pork barrel, instead the government should craft new laws on how it should be implemented.
Nadala said, “if we scrap the PDAF, development of different cities will be hampered.”
Meanwhile, 17 Higaonon leaders from the city’s 17 villages performed a ritual in support of the protest.
Bai Rus Lumanding, focal person for the indigenous peoples of the city, said that through the ritual they will ask permission and guidance from nature like trees, rivers and rocks that the city fiesta will be peaceful.
‘Let’s fight corruption’
Malacañang said it is on the same side of those thousands of Filipinos who joined in the protest actions in Luneta Park in Manila and other key cities in the country on Monday, presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said.
Lacierda reiterated that PDAF or pork barrel was already abolished and that there will be a new mechanism wherein the public could help in monitoring the projects to be implemented by the government.
So he said, "whether a million or 60,000 only (joined in the rally), the message is clear: we are on the same side. Let's fight corruption."
The police have estimated that in Luneta alone, some 70,000 people joined in the "Million People March." A fewer number of people also participated in the rallies in other cities in the country.
"Many doubted that (PDAF) was not abolished. It's been abolished...we will not see PDAF in 2014 (budget)," Lacierda said in a press briefing, adding that the fund will be found in the projects of respective departments.
But under the new mechanism that the government is eyeing, the budget supposedly for PDAF would be spent on projects to be identified by the legislators.
Lacierda urged those who participated in the demonstrations as well as the concerned citizens to help in monitoring how the government funds are being used.
"This administration has elevated the level of anti-corruption, the expectation of the people, because the President has rehabilitated the damaged institutions," he said.
"And so, it bounds concrete opportunity for the people, for the public: To join us and help monitor these projects," the official stressed.
He also assured that whatever mechanism will be put in place, it will be "full proof" from any possible corruption.
Meanwhile, Lacierda also said that the investigation being conducted by the Inter-Agency Anti-Graft Coordinating Council (IAAGCC) will cover all those who were allegedly involved in the pork barrel fund scam, including a consultant of Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., who reportedly had connection with Napoles.
President Benigno Aquino III reportedly ordered Ochoa to fire Brian Raymund Yamsuan, who was the former assistant secretary for public affairs in the Department of Interior and Local Government and spokesman of former Secretary Ronaldo Puno during the previous administration.
"(T)hat person has been terminated. I didn’t even know he was a consultant for Secretary Ochoa. So the proof of the pudding is in the eating. The President, the highest official of the land, has already spoken. He has formed IAAGCC. He has tasked IAAGCC to investigate," he said.
The IAAGCC is composed of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and Commission on Audit Chairperson Grace Pulido-Tan.
Hours before a protest against the pork barrel system in Luneta commence, hackers defaced more than twenty government websites before Monday dawn.
Most of the defaced sites were those of local government units, but the page aired concerns about the alternative to the "abolished" PDAF.
"We appreciate the fact that you have now responded to the public clamor to abolish the PDAF. However, the alternative package of still allowing the Congressmen and Senators to identify sponsored projects to be funded, albeit as line items in the annual budget, continues to leave MONEY with grasp of conniving and corrupt public officials," PrivateX, Philippine Cyber Army, Pinoy Vendetta and ShadowHaxor said in their message in many of the hacked sites.
"In effect, this merely shifted the time frame upon when these projects are identified and approved. Therefore, the PORK BARREL REMAINS!" they added.
The groups who took down the websites said they are pursuing their call for Aquino "to completely abolish the Pork barrel system!"
Among the sites they claimed to have hacked were: http://www.ntc.gov.ph; http://www.philembassy-rome.net/; http://minalin.gov.ph/; http://noc.pnp.gov.ph/; http://www.osist.dost.gov.ph/; http://mandaluyong.gov.ph/; http://cityofsanfernando.gov.ph/; http://www.cityofcabuyao.gov.ph/; http://scinet.dost.gov.ph/union/Downloads/op.html; http://www.papt.org.ph/; http://www.pnppf.org.ph/; http://intranet.mirdc.dost.gov.ph/; http://dpcr.pnp.gov.ph/ and some more websites. As of 6:26 a.m. Monday, some of the sites were taken offline.
In Iligan City, more than 500 including civil society organizations, nongovernment organizations, business sector, and academe joined the ‘Million People March’ demanding the government to scrap PDAF.
Naneth Antiqueza, executive director of Ecosystem Work for Essential Benefits (EcoWeb) said, "We strongly opposed PDAF which did not benefit most of the constituents particularly in the hinterland barangays."
Antiqueza said the community should be deeply involved and should participate in the planning and implementation of development projects through the Barangay Development Council in accordance to its development plan."
Antiqueza said the FOI Bill should be passed for transparency and accountability. (With reports from Richel V. Umel/Sunnex)
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on August 27, 2013.