Based on crowd estimates, the Luneta rally held Monday, which targeted one million attendees, was not very successful. Best estimates placed at about a hundred thousand the number of men, women, and children who were actually there.
Yes, children. Anyone who was there will vouch for the fact that there were a big number of minors in the crowd. Good thing then that nothing untoward happened.
The rally had a festive mood not unlike Edsa 1 and 2. But the inclement weather may have been one factor why it failed to attract one million Filipinos to join the rally.
Yet another factor may be that the public anger has not yet reached boiling point. Yes, the mind-boggling scandal involving “businesswoman” Janet Lim Napoles had everyone screaming for her head. And the fact that she is now in hiding can be interpreted as indicative of her guilt. But Napoles remains a public citizen. Unlike Ferdinand Marcos or Joseph Estrada, elected officials whom the people wanted removed from office due to allegations of massive corruption, Napoles cannot be removed from her post as president of her company.
Oh, she can be charged, arrested and convicted all right, but any calls for taking extra-legal measures against her will not receive popular support. For better or for worse, we Filipinos still believe in the law. It would be better to see her languish in prison for the rest of her life than to see her end it all by taking her own life. Or for some idiot to take the law into his own hands and snuff it out for her. At least in prison, she can realize the error of her ways. Certainly, there will be no shortage of Catholic priests whom she has generously helped in the past to lead her to the path to spiritual salvation.
Right now, all we want to see is for the authorities to nab her, wherever she is hiding. More importantly, there should be an end to any possibility that other Janet Napoleses will surface in the future, ready to grab hundreds of millions, perhaps billions, in public funds and claim it as hers.
If there is one reason to thank Napoles, it is for revealing the inherent weakness of the pork barrel allocation system, which allowed public funds to be dissipated uncontrollably.
Thus, while the Million People March may not have attained the numbers, there is no doubt that the message was delivered loud and clear. The overwhelming majority of the Filipino people – call them the Silent Majority, if you will – are not amused at how our lawmakers, and to a lesser extent our Executive department, have been misusing Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel.
Even before the Luneta rally held during National Heroes Day, PDAF was already on its way out. President Benigno Aquino 3rd said as much last week.
What the people do not want to see is the same dog with a different collar. The universal call for the abolition of pork barrel means that there should be nothing created to take its place.
If and when this happens, consider the Aug. 26 rally a total success.