Editorial: After the rally-A A +A
Tuesday, August 27, 2013
THE anti-pork barrel protest action held yesterday did not reach the targeted number of participants; netizens, after all, dubbed the activity the “Million People March to Luneta.” Estimates of the crowd gathered at the Luneta ranged from 75,000 to 100,000.
But it was the biggest protest action held under the administration of the still popular (according to surveys) President Benigno “Nonoy” Aquino III. And it involved not only the usual suspects (civil society, cause-oriented and militant types) but many of the previously apolitical segments of the population.
Almost all sectors were represented, even the unorganized and including religious groups. Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, the Manila Archbishop who once shed tears while talking about the abuse by lawmakers of their pork barrel, attended the gathering.
So the message was not in the numbers but in kind of people that raged against the pork barrel despite the spontaneity of the undertaking. The worry for the Aquino administration should be in the potentials of the anti-pork barrel movement and not its current strength.
The protest may not be enough for now to topple a government via people power a-la Edsa, but the movement could yet un-make the ambitious that are setting their sights at the presidential elections in 2016.
The outrage was palpable in that gathering despite the occasional smiles, that’s why it would be wrong for Aquino and his minions to be dismissive of the protest. It has become obvious that people’s awareness of the issue has reached an unprecedented level.
Indeed, chances that the pork barrel system, which has survived despite previous criticisms of its existence, would be fully abolished are higher now than ever before.
But this can only happen if the momentum won’t slow down or stop. Ending a well-entrenched practice can’t be done with a single protest action no matter how big. It’s like cutting an acacia; it can’t be done with a single blow of an axe.
PNoy has shown that he can be responsive to the demands of his “boss” when he announced the scrapping of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). But he also showed he can be “devious” by planning to put up a new scheme that retains the essence of the pork barrel system.
This shows that the pressure should be continued. That can only be done through better organized and increasingly bigger series of protest actions. Meaning that, yesterday’s undertaking should only be for starters.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 27, 2013.