A mammoth protest rally will be mounted on Thursday by various groups calling for the prosecution of all personalities involved in the pork barrel scam but their cries will not reach President Benigno Aquino 3rd who flies on June 12 to Camarines Sur province where he will observe Independence Day.
Malacañang spokesperson Edwin Lacierda on Monday said this year’s official Independence Day celebrations will take place in the province’s capital Naga City, where Aquino will pay tribute to the Bicol Region’s contribution to the Philippine revolution.
“Since assuming office, the President has been leading Independence Day celebrations in the regions, emphasizing the role of each province and community in the liberation of our country. On June 12, the President will commemorate Bicol’s contribution to the Philippine revolution, as encapsulated in the martyrdom of the Quince Martires, the 15 Bicolano Martyrs, whose deaths led to the civil guard revolt that ended Spanish rule in Camarines Sur,” Lacierda said in a news briefing.
On the same day, multi-sectoral groups, including former foes, will join forces to launch massive marches and rallies to amplify their demand that all officials, including allies of the President involved in the pork barrel scam, be punished.
Organizers of the rallies also on Monday criticized the President’s “escape” to Naga City, calling the plan as another “Noynoying” tactic to evade the pork barrel issue that has cast serious doubts on his resolve to prosecute his own lieutenants.
“Noynoying” is being passed off as the progressive of a verb that takes potshots at the President for his supposed inaction on or indifference to controversial issues implicating his allies in his administration and the government in general. It comes from “Noynoy,” his nickname, to which “ing” is added. Thus, to “noynoy” is to ignore or to dismiss something that he apparently cannot defend or justify before the people.
“This is emblematic of PNoy’s [short for President Noynoy]attitude of evasion toward the pork barrel issue and his failure to grasp his official accountability and political responsibility for this long-standing national scandal,” said militant lawyer Argee Guevarra, leader of the group Sanlakas and convenor of Scrap Pork Network.
Guevarra described the Bicol celebration as nothing but an evasive tack to divert the President’s attention away from the people’s real sentiments.
“His Independence Day vacation is ‘Noynoying’ at its most appalling definition and he should be reminded that his actions and inactions regarding the pork barrel scam could invite criminal prosecution during his term or beyond 2016,” he pointed out.
Guevarra’s group has joined the clamor for the resignation of Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala and Joel Villanueva, chief of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda), who were implicated in the pork barrel anomaly by businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles.
As early as last Sunday, factory workers and members of urban poor groups Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino and Kongreso ng Pagkakaisa ng Maralita ng Lungsod held simultaneous pickets in various areas in Metro Manila and adjacent provinces as part of build-up activities for the nationwide anti-pork assemblies on June 12.
Lacierda, however, said the President will return to Malacañang to host the traditional vin d’honneur, where he will lead a toast.
“Members of the diplomatic corps and the leaderships of the three branches of government have been invited to this annual gathering,” the Palace official added.
The Independence Day protest rallies will be joined by the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), Sanlakas, Scrap Pork Network and other civic and religious groups.
Also on Monday, Kilos Kaayusan (KK), a group of concerned Filipinos committed to the principles of national discipline and order, called on the Aquino administration to stop the organized plunder of public funds.
The group headed by Prof. Gabby Lopez said the President should “put order” and closure to the pork barrel scam by ordering the immediate prosecution of all those responsible for the plunder of public funds “both friends and foes alike.”
“KK believes that for the fight against corruption to be credible and sustainable, it has to be fair and perceived to be fair. For the fight against corruption to be successful and enduring, it should be willing to inflict pain on all offenders, friends, families and enemies.
The fight has to be waged with bias against none. It has to apply to all, regardless of political color. If not, it becomes a tyrannical use of State power to annihilate political opposition,” it said in a statement.
KK added that government should move fast to recover the plundered funds since it is possible that the monies may have been deposited in offshore accounts.
“In this regard, the Aquino administration should show its sincerity, policy consistency and objectivity in its fight against corruption by certifying to Congress as urgent two critical reform measures: the Freedom of Information Act and the Budget Impoundment Control Act. The first promotes real transparency while the second limits the power of the President to subvert the congressional power of the purse. Unless these two measures are passed, there is no guarantee that the fight against corruption will endure,” the group said.