Beyond spontaneity-A A +A
Monday, August 26, 2013
CONSIDER today’s protest actions to be held in several points in the country as a gauge of the extent of people’s rage over the plunder of government coffers through the pork barrel system. The number of protesters that will show up at the Luneta and other venues, like our very own Fuente Osmeña, will also determine government’s response to the “abolish pork” demand.
Frankly, I don’t think it was wise for the netizens who initiated the activity to peg a number to the expected turnout for the Luneta gathering. One million? It’s a number seen only in such tumult-created mass actions like the two Edsa People Power uprisings and the burial of slain leader Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., father of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III.
I take it that the “one million” is merely symbolic. Or a hyperbole for “big number.”
But others may not see it that way. A smaller turnout could make the Aquino
administration believe those netizens don’t have the support of the majority of Pinoys after all.
The other problem is the claimed spontaneity of the undertaking. The rally aims to group together disparate groups for one intention: demand for the abolition of the pork barrel system. The hope is that the cause would be compelling enough for groups and individuals to temper their own selfish intentions and political agenda. But quarrels could erupt.
And it did in Cebu recently when some supposed “organizers” of the local version of the anti-pork rally flogged lawyer Democrito Barcenas for his seemingly over-the-top reaction to P-Noy’s announcement of the scrapping of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and replacing it with another mechanism that is essentially the same collar for an old dog.
Barcenas, a veteran of many protest actions, had announced his intention to join today’s anti-pork rally and encouraged others to join it. After P-Noy’s announcement, Barcenas thought the anti-pork rally should instead become a victory march.
I say it is premature to talk about victory because P-Noy essentially did not abolish the pork barrel system. But I understand where Barcenas is coming from.
Some netizens jumped on Barcenas, the spokesman of the Liberal Party (LP) in Cebu, slapping him with names like they are the only honest-intentioned people in this burgh. It’s the same holier-than-thou attitude that has sparked the fragmentation of civil society and cause-oriented groups in the country, weakening them, and allowing tyrants to prevail.
The outrage against the pork barrel system is a legitimate one. It is therefore important for today’s protest action against it, and hopefully the succeeding ones, to succeed. But it is so important a battle spontaneity has to give way to more organized actions. By “organized” I mean it must have an identifiable set of leaders and clear cut goals and rules of engagement.
For starters, netizens who made today’s rally possible should come out of their shells and lead the battle all the way through. This is to ensure that the anti-pork protest would not be taken over by groups and personalities with dubious intentions and goals.
I was in Inayawan yesterday to join barangay folk in celebrating the feast of St. Augustine of Hippo--the 117th annual fiesta. Fr. Anthony Murillo, the parish priest of the Our Lady of Consolation Parish where Inayawan belongs, joined Saturday’s procession that began and ended at the old chapel. Yesterday’s mass was held at the unfinished structure nearby.
It was a successful celebration despite the conflict that hounded the organizing of the religious and other events leading to feast day.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 26, 2013.