Uprising!-A A +A
Wrapped in Grey
Friday, August 23, 2013
ON Monday, August 26, throngs of angry Filipino citizens will stage a people power in Luneta, across various cities, including the front of embassies and consulates abroad.
The One Million Filipino March against the Pork Barrel is the outcome of a spontaneous call from netizens who felt that something must be done beyond Facebook and twitter. The historic mass action responds to a rising sense of indignation which started on the net that cannot be kept at bay anymore and is now set to spill over the streets.
An indication that the outrage remains fever pitch is the passionate anger of citizens directed to politicians over the severe flooding brought about by the monsoon rains and typhoon Maring over Metro Manila, and Northern and Central Luzon just this week. The quick connection arrived at by flood victims between government funds that should have been spent for flood control and the billions of pesos lost to corruption indicates that this issue is not about to go away.
To ascribe this to the scandalous Napoles shenanigans alone is to miss the point. The Filipino people have endured one corruption scandal after another and have not forgotten the Jocjoc Bolante fertilizer scam and the ZTE broadband scandal during the nine-year rule of the conjugal plunderers. And many of those who have signified to join have expressed that if we, the Filipino people, miss this chance in overhauling our political practices and calling to task the politicians who have benefited from them, then we are doomed as a nation.
President Benigno "PNoy" Aquino III rode on the crest of the same public sentiment which enabled him to capture the presidency. The people were patient enough to course it through the electoral process with high hopes that with their vote the nightmare of the GMA administration would finally end and never come back. But three years hence, and with only high profile anti-corruption cases to show for its accomplishments, people have come to the conclusion that it has been more of the same. The supposed pedigree of the family name does not insulate the current president from the affliction that mires our country's political system.
In fact, PNoy perfectly represents the problematic nature of governance hostaged by elite interests. His continued endorsement of the pork barrel system with his one trillion peso pork amid broad calls for its abolishment is a singular admission that he subscribes to leading a corrupt political order where the people's money is employed for patronage. Reflecting the landholding class of his origins, he has been dispensing his own pork as a tool for political leverage to reward loyal officials and punish those that do not toe the line with a personal kitty of the people's money the size of which has never before been matched by previous administrations.
The One Million March is evolving to be the political backlash to his "matuwid na daan." The planned mass action is merely the first salvo of what is expected to be a sustained people's movement to overhaul politics in this country.
The whole thing started on facebook with a single post which then caught wildfire among netizens already enflamed by the pork barrel scandal. The attention of many was captured since they were waiting for an outlet for their indignation over not just the Napoles issue but the entire political system.
In the past week, meetings were called by private citizens and various cause-oriented groups and it has been decided that the common demands of the mobilization are as follows: 1) abolishment of the pork barrel system in its various forms including the president's own one trillion discretionary fund; 2) accountability of those who benefited from the system which means the investigation and persecution of the politicians and NGOs involved; and 3) the re-chanelling of these funds to social services such as education, public health programs, and in the wake of the recent flooding in the capital and most parts of Luzon, flood mitigation projects, among others.
People will be marching from various points around the capital to converge in Luneta and other venues around the country by 9 a.m. where multiple stages and discussion groups will greet them on the sprawling grounds and they can join the groups of their choosing. At the appointed time of 10 a.m., 11 a.m. and 12 p.m., the million expected participants in Luneta and all over the country will unite in a coordinated action expressing the calls of the protest action. A contingent will then proceed to Mendiola to bring the demands before the president's doorstep. In Cagayan de Oro City, private citizens are organizing the same activity from 2 to 5 p.m. at Gaston Park.
For sure, the mass action will not bring about immediate change and will also incur its own backlash of damage control and manipulation from the powers-that-be. Expect also that talk of bombings, black propaganda, and the like will flood the airwaves in the coming days to discourage participation. But if the president failed the litmus test, it is now incumbent on the Filipino People, who are finally conscious that their lives and future are at stake, to demand the change they seek. And they will not be deterred in this first of a series of what is still a peaceful uprising.
It is expected that the whole machinery of the State including media will be employed to maintain the status quo afterward. There is already talk of suspension of the pork barrel system while an investigation is in the offing. However, the attainment of the people's just demands, at the center of which is the abolition of the pork barrel system, can only be secured through their sustained militancy. But for them to come out on the streets is already a powerful statement for change and hope. As the Filipina revolutionary Salud Algabre once said, "No uprising fails. Each is a step toward the right direction."
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on August 23, 2013.