By JOHN RIZLE L. SALIGUMBA
DAVAO CITY – Public transport here are geared for a city-wide strike on Wednesday, November 13, to call for the abolition of the government’s pork barrel system and excessive taxes that transport leaders said have burdened drivers and the public.
City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte has also publicly announced on Thursday his support to the strike, insisting that more residents should “register” their anger over the abuse of people’s money.
The transport group Transmision, allied with the national transport organization PISTON, said it would expect the participation of 90% of drivers and operators. The city has 17,000 public utility jeepney and tricycle drivers.
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (New Patriotic Alliance), which is one of the lead groups calling for the abolition of pork, would join the drivers in staging protests actions during the strike.
Bayan spokesperson, Sheena Duazo said the strike would start at 12 midnight of November 11 and would end on midnight of November 12.
She added that groups from labor, urban poor, youth and farmers will gather in several stage protest points such as in Bankerohan Public Market, Ecoland-Sandawa roads, Matina Crossing, Ulas, Freedom Park, Alsons Company along Lanang and Sasa Oil Depot.
She said the alliance would join the strike to press their demand for the abolition of the President’s pork barrel and DAP.
“The fact remains that the P25 billion PDAF scam, which involves Janet-Lim Napoles and several legislators, is meager compared to the P1 trillion presidential pork of the President. Thus, we want discretionary funds to be abolished,” said Duazo.
Aside from the PDAF issue, Transmision spokesperson Edil Gonzaga, said the strike would also demand the stop to what he said were excessive taxes and collection, which only ended up in widespread corruption of public funds.
He said government collects around P 140 million from public utility vehicle drivers around the country in a day.
Gonzaga estimated that Davao City’s vehicle owners, which are around 55,000, have been collected of around P118 million in expanded value added tax per month.
Yet, he said, “such collection has been subject to corruption as seen in the expose of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of Congress, and now with the President’s special funds and Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP)”.
“These collections, instead of going to public services that would benefit the people including us drivers and our families, went to corruption instead thru the pork barrel system, the presidential pork included,” He said.
Gonzaga also slammed excessive fines imposed by the Land Transportation Office through its Department Order No. 2008-39, which hiked penalties for traffic violations up to 700% that only take away the drivers’ meager income.
“The government imposes numerous policies which exact our revenues which make our lives harder,” said Gonzaga, as he cited the incessant hike in prices of commodities and services.
Aquino’s DAP, which was exposed by Senator Jinggoy Estrada, was criticized by various sectors for its un-Constitutionality and its nature of being a fund placed under the discretion of President Benigno Aquino III.
Constitutionalist Fr. Joaquin Bernas SJ said the misuse of public funds is ground for impeaching the president.
Retired Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno is also visiting political and civic leaders in cities to support calls for a people’s initiative, a Constitutional remedy, to push for a plebiscite to decide on the fate of the pork barrel system.
The call for people’s initiative has been supported by BAYAN and other groups from the left, and also by lawyers’ groups. (John Rizle L. Saligumba/davaotoday.com)DAP, napoles senate, pdaf transport strike, pdap, pork barrel