By JOHN RIZLE L. SALIGUMBA
Davao City – Monday’s protest march against the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel will continue, despite President Benigno Aquino III’s statement that the pork barrel system will be abolished.
Jon Joaquin, managing editor of Mindanao Daily Mirror and one of the organizers of Million People March Davao posted on the event’s Facebook page : “Yes, we will push through with our march on Monday Rizal Park.”
Joaquin added, “PNoy didn’t actually abolish PDAF. He only said “it’s time” to do it. He also basically said pork would continue but under different rules and presumably under a different name. But as you may have been reading, it’s the same thing, and it will still be open to abuse.”
Fr. Joel Tabora, SJ, President of the Ateneo de Davao University said that the August 26 activities opposing pork must continue to show “the clear manifestation of the people’s will.”
He posted in his Facebook account that he is “pleased that President Aquino now seems to be placing the weight of his office behind the abolition of the PDAF as we know it today and is proposing a stricter, modified version.”
But he added that “(U)ltimately, however, the abolition of the odious pork barrel is in the hands of the legislators, for whom PDAF has become a “habit” – for good or ill.”
Atty. Carlos Zarate, representative of Bayan Muna partylist asked people to continue with their protests on Monday as what Aquino did was mere name-changing the pork barrel.
“The people must persist in abolishing the pork barrel system. Tuloy ang August 26 rally as an opening salvo for bigger rallies to come,” he said.
Zarate believed Aquino’s statement aims to cool down the people’s outrage against the pork barrel.
“A clearly rattled Pres. Aquino is trying to jump the gun on the growing people’s outrage on the scourge that is the pork barrel system. His reluctant decision to supposedly abolish the PDAF was, first and foremost, designed to shield his administration from the people’s anger towards its shameless defense of this corrupt patronage system. Pres. Aquino’s decision was designed to pre-empt the August 26 peoples’ march,” Zarate said.
Zarate’s colleague Neri Colmenares said while Aquino put on “regulations” on the Congress’ pork, his presidential pork worth P312 billion is unknown in the public eye.
“He failed to mention his larger presidential pork which is at least P312 Billion this year, (similar to) the much abused Malampaya Fund, as if hoping it will not be noticed by the people,” said Colmenares.
Meanwhile, Vencer Crisostomo, national chaiperson of the militant Anakbayan said Aquino’s pork barrel ‘overhaul’ measure will actually lead to “expanded, unlimited pork barrel and invisible pork barrel system” for the Palace and its “allies.”
“Aquino’s statement that he “abolish” the pork is doublespeak. Under his new system, the congressmen will merely have to propose their projects to the executive and include them as line items in the General Appropriations Act instead of a lump sum allotted for them,” said Crisostomo.
He said that this “means greater Palace pork concentration and more pork under Aquino control and discretion.”
“Without abolishing the fatter and bigger presidential pork barrel, his decision on the abolition of PDAF only is useless, hollow and empty. In fact he only abolished the name but not the pork barrel system itself,” Zarate said.
Bayan Muna filed a priority bill House Bill 1535 to abolish the pork barrel system.
Stella Estremera, editor in chief of SunStar Davao is skeptical on Aquino’s call for new mechanisms and creation of an Inter-Agency Anti-Graft Coordinating Council, or IAAGCC to “accelerate the process, from investigation, to prosecution, to putting people behind bars, and even to asset recovery.”
“Nasaan ang FOI (Freedom of Information Law)? Law ang kailangan namin, hindi promise. (Where is the FOI? We need that law, not promises),” Estremera posted on her Facebook account.
Journalists and other groups have campaigned for the passage of the FOI, a law that seeks transparency of public records and transactions. Aquino promised early in his administration to pass the law in Congress but later backtracked.(John Rizle L. Saligumba/davaotoday.com )abolish pdaf, aquino pdaf abolition, aquino pork, pdaf, pork barrel