MANILA, Philippines-A large mass action under the administration of President Benigno Aquino III was assembled on Monday as tens of thousands of Filipinos voiced anger against the alleged misuse of pork barrel funds.
“Makibaka, Huwag magbaboy” reverberated at Luneta Park accompanied with the beats of drums, hoots and whistles as Filipinos, who wore masks, T-shirts and hats printed with a pig’s head, call for abolition of the controversial lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) which is intended to alleviate poverty.
According to the estimation of the police, approximately 60,000 protesters, including professionals, workers, religious sector, students, health workers and showbiz personalities marched and staged the social media-driven protest, ignoring the occasional rain showers.
Regardless on the increase of nation’s economy during the first quarter, still, corruption remains a never-ending problem that hinders to sustain the economic development.
VOICE OF THE PROTESTERS
Despite of the different protest, the atmosphere in the area appeared to be more playful as some families ate their meals at the park grounds while different groups show their protest through combative messages and activist songs.
“Hindi kami galit. This is a celebration of democracy. Ang gusto ko lang namin, since may kontrobersiya, i-scrap na talaga ang pork barrel at idiretso na sa mga ahensya ang pondo,” stated Taguig resident Opel de Asis, who wore an “Angry Bird” attire.
In addition, the Teacher’s Dignity Coalition (TDC) also joined the massive protest to show support through their printed T-shirts and posters with slogans “Scrap the Pork, Jail the Crooks, Fund our School” and “Teachers, honest taxpayers”.
“By marching on the streets, we could leave a legacy for our students and our own children that they will grow up in a country free of corruption and thievery and would make them proud as Filipino people,” said TDC chair Benjo Basas.
Meanwhile, Sister Sofia of Siena College in Quezon City also wanted for an apt spending of public fund.
“We really wanted to be here. We wanted to be counted among the people with the same sentiments. We would like the resources of the government to be used properly, especially for the poor,” Sister Sofia said.
Meanwhile, a third year high school student of St. Scholastica’s College, Judith Salvacion, chose to join the call for justice and take legal action against individual who stole public funds.
“Unahin po ang Pilipinas bago ang bakasyon. Para ho sa kinabukasan namin ito,” Salvacion firmly said.
On the other hand, Rajo Laurel, a fashion designer together with other celebrities including Raymond Gutierrez and Georgina Wilson trooped to Luneta with a desire for more transparency and accountability in government.
“Mahal natin ang bansa natin kaya gusto natin magbago ang gobyerno, magbago ang proseso and I’m not mad. I am just concerned, because if this doesn’t change, it’s going to be a continuing disease,” Laurel said.
MILLION PEOPLE MARCH AGAINST PORK SCAM
A Facebook page that started the massive action protest described the event as “massive pocket picnic get-together” that urged the public to continue the call for change and justice against the controversial pork barrel.
Despite Aquino’s call to abolish the legislators’ pork barrel, the protest action was still pushed through and was named the “Million People March.”
Meanwhile, the Commission on Audit (COA) reported that from 2007-2009, a not efficiently monitored and tracked PDAF under former President Gloria Arroyo’s administration were revealed.
Faye Michelle Regis
ABCom, Leyte Normal University