All set for anti-'pork' rally today-A A +A
Monday, August 26, 2013
MANILA (Updated) -- It's all systems go today, National Heroes Day, in different parts of the country for the grand call for the abolition of the priority development assistance fund (PDAF) or "pork barrel" of senators, congressmen and even in the Office of the President.
Dubbed by organizers as the "Million People March," it was also a call for transparency and accountability among government leaders who traditionally used their PDAF as a source of corruption and to amass wealth by allotting funds to questionable non-government organization, instead of funding development projects.
The nationwide, multi-sectoral and inter-religious gathering is a call to action against corruption in the government especially on the House of Representatives and the Senate to which the PDAF is being distributed at about P25.2 billion pesos annually.
A group actively pushing for the enactment of a freedom of information (FOI) law on Sunday pledged support to the protest against the misuse of priority development assistance funds (PDAF) dubbed the Million People March.
The Right to Know Right Now! Coalition said it will assemble at the Liwasang Bonifacio at 9 a.m. Monday before it marches to Luneta by 10 a.m. to join the people’s gathering.
The same group earlier filed their own version of the FOI bill called the "People's Freedom of Information Act of 2013" before the House of Representatives and the Senate. The measure was filed under the indirect initiative provision of Republic Act (RA) 6735 or The Initiative and Referendum Act.
A group actively pushing for the enactment of a freedom of information (FOI) law also pledged support to the protest.
The Right to Know Right Now! Coalition said it will assemble at the Liwasang Bonifacio to join the people’s gathering.
Leaders of the Catholic Church as well as Christian groups are set to unite for a common cause of condemning the alleged misuses of the pork barrel.
Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop emeritus Oscar Cruz said he is set to attend the Million march versus pork barrel in Luneta.
“I’m going there because I think this is no longer just about the pork barrel (scam),” said Cruz in an interview.
Similarly, leaders of different Christian denominations also related that they are set to attend the anti-pork barrel rally.
“All Filipinos share in the responsibility. When we do not stand up against corruption, we are similarly guilty for failing to uphold what is right... We join this Million March to say: Enough is enough,” said Christian leaders in a joint statement.
Signatories for the joint statement are the Philippines for Jesus Movement, Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches, Intercessors for the Philippines, and Movement for National Transformation.
Youth and student groups held a bike and cyclist fest at the University of the Philippines Academic Oval in Diliman, organized by Kabataan party-list Rep. Mong Palatino. Afterwards, participants proceeded to the Kabataan headquarters in Barangay Amihan in Project 3 to prepare the anti-pork masks, headdresses, effigies, banners and other paraphernalia for today's protest.
This, despite a pronouncement from original Luneta organizers that while everyone is welcome to join, they are discouraging groups from being identified with a certain political group.
Several colleges at the University of Santo Tomas and at the De La Salle University have also expressed support to the anti-pork barrel protest, and have called on their students to wear white to identify themselves as a group.
"For Thomasians, who on their own initiative as concerned citizens, joining the August 26 people's march, please follow the rules laid down by the organizers. Wear white, bring your own streamer, mats, food, water, umbrella and something to make noise with. No group banners, no political colors," a statement from UST read.
Meanwhile, the Manila City Government already put in place traffic rerouting schemes in several roads to ease the travel of participants.
In a traffic advisory, a portion of Roxas Boulevard, from Katigbak Parkway to Pedro Gil St., will be closed as early as 5:30 a.m.
Vehicles coming from south of Manila may use the northbound lane of Roxas Blvd. then turn right at Quirino Avenue or Pedro Gil St.
Those coming from the north may turn left at Padre Burgos Avenue then right at Maria Orosa Avenue going to their point of destination.
The supposedly simple gathering of several individuals, led by Peachy Bretana, sharing a common advocacy for public awareness, to convene in Luneta Park snowballed into one giant event that engendered support from other regions and different parts of the world where there are Filipinos.
President Aquino on Friday announced the abolition of the PDAF, a move which was seen only as a means to derail the "picnic rally" of various civil society groups who are calling for the prosecution of officials who misused public funds.
Participants will convene at the Burnham Greens, the grassy portion across Quirino Grandstand.
In the guidelines provided by the group, it claimed that "there is no central organizer, it’s a citizen’s gathering... This is a peaceful gathering, so always be respectful of others and let’s cover each others backs."
All picnic goers are also expected to clean up after themselves, and must bring garbage bags with them.
They also reminded participant that Rizal Park, including the Burnham Greensis a no-smoking area area, while drinking of alcoholic beverages is also prohibited.
The group also has only about 700 marshals and only 2,000 police officers assigned to provide protection to an estimated 10,000 participants from criminal elements.
"Look after your own group and make sure we maintain proper decorum and discipline. Let’s show the world that we can all gather in a peaceful, harmonious, cooperative and caring way," organizers said.
"This is a rally that will not have one stage, to be taken over by the next opportunist. this is a multicolor rally as it is one that will allow for flags and banners... The goal should be to actually go and make your voice count and make your presence felt," they added.
Those who may not be able to go to Luneta are encouraged to just express their support through social media.
In Cebu City, no road will be closed, but about 200 police will be fielded to watch over the rally this morning for the abolition of congressional pork barrel funds.
The Movement for a Livable Cebu (MLC), the rally’s coordinator, expects about 8,000 participants for the rally in Fuente Osmeña and proceed to Plaza Independencia.
Executive Director Atty. Rafael Yap of the City Traffic Operations Management (Citom) said there’s no need to close Osmeña Blvd. or its surrounding roads, considering the rally will start early in the morning of a holiday.
At least 200 police personnel will be deployed for the half-day activity, said Cebu City Police Office Director Noli Romana.
He said the Police Regional Office (PRO) will also prepare one platoon as a stand-by force, if needed.
“We will check, if there are too many participants for the 200 police personnel to handle, then we will deploy addition forces,” said Romana.
In Davao City, a protest action will be held in Rizal Park at 9 a.m.
Various groups have committed to join the protest action through a Facebook event, which was created last week to invite more Dabawenyos to contribute the air of protest. As of this posting, at least 602 Facebook users confirmed they are going to the event .
Those who confirmed are from the sectors of academe, Davao media, Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP), artists, church people, progressive party-lists, and among others.
In Bacolod City, proponents and movers of the “Tipon- Tipon” sa Lagoon aimed at calling for the total abolition of the “pork barrel” urged Negrenses and Bacoleños to participate in their continued protest for the scrapping of the graft-ridden PDAF.
Raymund Javellana, one of the convenors and president of the Alliance of Negrense Tourism Stakeholders, said the rally will proceed as planned.
“We should now demand for transparency and accountability in the allocation and use of these funds to various projects of different agencies, such as the departments of Health, Education, Public Works and Highways, Tourism, etc., and create a body to monitor these closely,” Javellana said.
Diego Malacad, secretary-general of the United Negros Drivers Operators Center, said they will proceed with their rally today as they have many issues to raise.
Militant cause-oriented group Anak-Pawis and its allied organizations also vowed to join the gathering at the Capitol Lagoon, and their members will march from the reclamation area.
The Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro City has called for the passing of FOI Bill to promote public transparency and accountability in light of the swelling public outrage over the P10-billion “pork barrel” scam that the church called “a grave immoral act.”
In its pastoral letter issued on Sunday, Archbishop Antonio Ledesma urged everyone to “join the mobilization today to show a united stand and strong public support to run after those responsible of the malicious use of the PDAF and bring justice to all those held responsible for it, to scrap the pork barrel and create an effective method to deliver social services that are corruption free and pass the FOI bill.”
Cagayan de Oro City Police Director Graciano Mijares said in a text message to Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro that as part of the city fiesta celebration, the police and the military would secure the protest.
Mijares said that the city police would be maximizing their presence, not only because of the protest against corruption and the pork barrel system, but also primarily of the fiesta celebration. (EDV/ANC/Sun.Star Davao/Sun.Star Bacolod/Sun.Star Cebu/Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro/Sunnex)