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HONG KONG-Filipinos in Hong Kong today joined in the clamor to abolish the “pork barrel” system and President Aquino’s own discretionary fund, and to resolve the rapidly unraveling web of corruption in the Philippine government stemming from use of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).

Members of militant groups led by the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan-HK), Gabriela-HK, the Promotion of Church People’s Response (PCPR-HK) and the United Filipinos in Hong Kong (UNIFIL-MIGRANTE-HK) trooped to the Philippine Consulate General to call for the prosecution of those involved in the corruption of PDAF, the ending of the “pork barrel” system, and the rechanneling of the billions of peso of funds in PDAF and in Aquino’s personal fund to social services such as education and health and to direct on-site services to OFWs.

“Heads must roll and investigation and prosecution must continue regardless of who is involved – even the president himself. The deeply entrenched system of corruption is now getting exposed in the public’s eye who have been carrying the brunt of poverty and lack of social services while government officials cum profiteers corner the bulk of public funds for their own selfish means. The hardships now experienced by our people with the typhoon and severe flooding just highlight the disgusting crimes happening right inside the Aquino government,” said BAYAN-HK Country Information Officer, Norman Uy Carnay.

Filipino migrants, according to the protesters, have a lot at stake in the large-scale robbery of the people’s money.

“It is immoral that while millions of Filipinos are forced by poverty and unemployment to seek survival overseas, there are the few government officials and their individual cohorts who are wallowing in billions of the people’s money. While thousands are stranded in the Middle East, those in distress are turned away from government assistance for lack of funds, the number of embassies and consulates that should be a refuge for migrants with problems is trimmed down, and OFWs have to beg for any help, the humungous PDAF fund is transformed into a personal kitty bank of unscrupulous politicians,” remarked Sol Pillas, vice chairperson of the UNIFIL.

Meanwhile, Gabriela-HK vice chairperson Rowena dela Cruz, assailed the Aquino government for its dilly-dallying in taking actions to get to the bottom of the “pork barrel” scams. She hit Aquino for merely postponing the release of PDAF despite the overwhelming call for its abolition and remarked that such delaying tactic will not quell the heat of the people’s disgust over corruption.

“Who is Aquino trying to protect and what is he not willing for the public to uncover? Is it the fact that the corruption in PDAF does not only involve opposition politicians but also his cohorts in Akbayan and other administration allies? Is it the fact that billions of similar funds at his disposal as President are also in question? Is it because his boasts of good governance and “daang matuwid” are built on lack of complete transparency, absence of accountability, and impunity?” said dela Cruz.

Protesters also said that investigation on corruption should not only involve the PDAF money but as well as the funds allocated for Aquino’s programs such as the Conditional Cash Transfer, and in the negotiations with private businesses under the Public Private Partnership program.

“The evil of corruption is long-running and pervasive as government officials treat public office as their own profitable business. It is the moral responsibility of the people to seek a resolution of this issue and to demand for more long-lasting solutions in the corruption-ridden system in the country,” said Rev. Joram Calimutan, secretary general of the PCPR-HK.

OFW protesters said that an independent body must be formed to investigate in full and pursue the prosecution of corrupt officials without prejudice.

“Long have the Filipinos suffered from public officials who build their personal wealth at the expense of the people forced to scrape despite the availability of funds that should have been used for the needs of the people and for strategic national development. It is said that the PDAF scams are just the tip of the iceberg and if so, the revelation and resolution of the whole problem of corruption must be done,” Carnay concluded. (PR)