• Church at forefront of anti-pork drive

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    A member of a militant group prepares an effigy that they will use in their march today to denounce the pork barrel system. Photo by Miguel de Guzman

    A member of a militant group prepares an effigy that they will use in their march today to denounce the pork barrel system. Photo by Miguel de Guzman

    Thousands of students and members of religious and civic groups demanding an end to all types of pork barrel will converge today at Manila’s Rizal Park (Luneta) to show their opposition to the attempt of the Aquino administration to continue implementing programs under the Development Acceleration Program (DAP). The program was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court lat month.

    Today’s anti-pork rally is expected to be bigger than last year’s because the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines have thrown their support behind the gathering.

    Several groups will convene at Luneta for the “Stand Up! Sign Up!: The People’s Initiative against Pork Barrel.” Organizers are aiming to gather six million signatures that they hope will lead to the holding of a People’s Initiative, one of three modes allowed by the Constitution to effect a law.

    The CBCP said it supports “all measures our citizens take, provided these are moral, peaceful and lawful, aimed at curbing corruption and the irresponsible use of public funds.”

    In a statement, CBCP President Socrates Villegas said the people are justified in taking matters into their own hands to stop the illegal use of state funds.

    “Rightly appalled by what they take to be the unjust use of public funds through the pork barrel system, some citizens have taken the step the Constitution allows of legislating anti-pork barrel measures through People’s Initiative,” the CBCP statement said.

    “Since it seems that despite the widespread perception that pork barrel funds have occasioned unconscionable irresponsibility on the part of those who had access to them and a definitive ruling by the Supreme Court that such funds are unconstitutional, we have been informed of attempts to perpetuate the system through the appropriation of lump sums in the national budget under various pretexts. We therefore fully endorse the People’s Initiative aimed at legislating the proscription of funds made available to officials and subject to their discretion alone. We likewise look with displeasure at the practice of classifying as ‘intelligence funds’ — and therefore beyond the scope of audit and accountability–sizeable amounts of public money,” it added.

    “You cannot serve both God and money. We choose to serve God and we cannot countenance the idolization of money, especially when it takes the form of unfettered access to the money of the people,” Villegas said.

    Scrap pork
    Also joining the rally is the Scrap Pork Network, whose signature-gathering campaign kicked off in Cebu City on Saturday.

    Scrap Pork Network leader Peachy Rallonza-Bretaña said the group hopes to gather the six million signatures by December or the first two months of 2015.

    Bretaña added that they will go around the country to convince Filipinos to participate in the People’s Initiative.

    Meanwhile, militant groups will also troop to Luneta to express their opposition to all forms of DAP and pork barrel, which in the past had been abused by lawmakers, government officials and non-government organizations.

    But Malacanang is not keen on supporting today’s rally against pork barrel.

    In a radio interview, Palace deputy spokesman Abigail Valte said the public is free to launch a People’s Initiative to abolish the pork barrel system in the government.

    She, however, reminded the public that the “end goal” of this initiative will not be easy to achieve.

    “We are guided by pertinent laws, [in the]Constitution, [in the decided cases of the Supreme Court on what the parameters of the People’s Initiative should be],” Valte said.

    She noted that such initiative and the possible referendum that may follow will go through a long process.

    “Even if you, if that [gathering of six million signatures]is achieved, it is the Commission on Elections that will have to check the validity of the signatures,” Valte said.

    Under Republic Act 6735, a People’s Initiative needs the support of at least 10 percent of the total number of registered voters, and at least three percent of the registered voters in each congressional district.

    The poll body will then have to verify the form and substance of such initiative.

    Valte said Malacanang will not comment further until the results are in.

    Public outrage has risen against the pork barrel system on account of the revelation that billions in lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel went to ghost projects of non-government organizations.

    Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Ramon ‘Bong’ Revilla Jr. and Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada were charged with plunder in connection with the pork scam, along with alleged pork barrel brains Janet Lim-Napoles.

    Valte also noted that allocations for PDAF had been taken out from the 2015 budget.

    She, however, said President Benigno Aquino 3rd had given instructions to make sure that the needs of those benefiting from PDAF, including scholars, are met.

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    6 Comments

    1. People power does not happen overnight. It escalates as people’s desperation with their government increases. At the rate that PNoy has been ignoring and denying the reality that his government is flawed and needs real reforms, it is just a matter of time.

    2. Dominador D. Canastra on

      After this the CBCP should also rally vigorously together, with other groups that want democratic and really credible, transparent and honest elections, against the Comelec’s cntinued use of the Smartmatic system of aut0mated elections using the PCOS machines. The use of these machines and the Smartmatic AES system is immoral and against the virtue of patriotism. It allows the ruling group supported by the Comelec and the opaque, unverifiable PCOS count, to win in any poll.

    3. Mali yata ang sinisigaw at gustong mangyari ng cbcp at mga taong nagnanais linisin ang masamang ginagawa ng nagpapatakbo ng gobyerno,! HindI ba dapat ang isigaw nila ay foi!foi!! At maging batas ito upang ano mang salita ang itawag sa pork o ano mang pondo ng gobyerno ay nakikita Ng lahat, ang pdaf ay mabuti kong tama ang pagagamitan nito at makakatulong sa lahat ng mamamayan nangangailangan, ang dapat magkaroon ng batas na lahat ng mambabatas kanino man siyang politika ka sama ay dapat matanggap niya ang para sa kanyang nasasakopan upang sa ganoon ay hindi magamit ng pangulo ang pera ng bayan sa sarili niyang interest.
      Foi!!foi ang tamang sulution sa problema sa corruption,meronnang batas para maipakulong ang mga magnanakaw!.Mukhang sayang lang ang gagawin ng pangkat ng cbcp at kung hindi nila mahikayat ang mga katoliko na sumama ay makuwestion ang kakayanan nilang mapaniwala ang mga tagasunod at sumasampalataya sa aral nila,sa totoo lang, kung maysampalataya ang tao sa utos nila, ang isang million tao ay sisiw lang para pumunta at sumama,.malaking. ..kung!!..

      Mukhang magiging sayang lang ang gagawin ng pangkat ng cbcp

    4. Valte is right. the people’s initiative is nonsense, it’s just a waste of time. if you want Noynoy out, then oust him with people power. simple as that