People’s Initiative versus Kompre-Aquino

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At the height of the controversy over the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), Palace propagandists and Aquino defenders often lamented why the national debate had completely shifted to the DAP, with President Aquino at the center of the cross-fire. Why oh why, they wailed, can’t we get back to discussing the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel and the millions looted by members of the opposition?

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After yesterday’s truncated People’s Initiative rally at Rizal Park, I suspect the factotums probably high-fived themselves and sent reassuring texts to the President.

For an event that was supposed to bring out public indignation over the massive looting of the public treasury, the rally was surprisingly sedated. Not a single angry word or statement was spoken by rally leaders during the coverage provided by the major networks. Peachy Bretaña of the Scrap Pork Network set the tone when she declared that the rally was not against the Aquino administration. (She did the same in last year’s underwhelming million-people march).

Those who like myself were bracing for a head-to-head confrontation between the forces behind the People’s Initiative and the forces of the administration must have been sorely disappointed by the lack of fireworks.

The thing was painted in exciting colors during the runup to August 25.

At one end, we were told that groups, led by no less than the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) and the Catholic Education Association of the Philippines (CEAP) and leading leftwing organizations, would converge at the park for the rally and lead the way in signing up for the initiative.

Strong CBCP Statement
The CBCP raised public expectations with a strong public statement over the weekend. It signaled that the church would be at the forefront of the drive. As the date nears for the visit of Pope Francis in January, the Catholic role could be decisive for the initiative.

The CBCP spoke for all of us when it said that 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.”

CBCP President Archbishop Socrates Villegas declared that 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.

No words could be clearer in stating the bishops’ stand.

“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.

Kompre: Government’s counterpunch
At the other end, the administration mobilized its so-called yellow army by quickly forming the Koalisyon ng Mamamayan para sa Reporma (Kompre). Kompre staged yesterday its organization drive at the Ateneo de Manila University (why is my alma mater, where I was incidentally much, much better than a C student, perennially surfacing these days as a refuge for the government’s discredited initiatives?).

Kompre, said the pre-publicity, is designed to counter public outrage against the government. Karina Constantino-David, one of the convenors, said the coalition wants to ensure that positive gains under the Aquino administration are continued beyond 2016.

David stressed that the public should have a balanced view of the Aquino administration and not let one scandal erase its achievements over the past four years.

Aquino warns of fake reformists
To insure that he was not left out of the day’s news, President Aquino weighed in with a National Heroes’ Day speech that denounced “fake reformists” and all those who are opposed to his reforms.

Aquino urged the public to be vigilant against those casting doubt on his presidency. He warned that “greedy” people are determined to bring back a system of corruption in government.

Fake reformists? What about his reforms? What are they? Media has long been urging the Palace to list these reforms, but to date, no response.

Aquino issued his call at the same time that citizens started signing the “people’s initiative” against all forms of discretionary spending like the DAP and the PDAF, which have both been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court (SC). The goal is six million signatures by December.

In response to the initiative, Palace spokesmen maintained the official line that the PDAF has already been abolished, and that the proposed 2015 budget contains no pork.

But administration critics quickly riposted that more than P500 billion in lump sum funds are still included in the 2015 budget for various line items.

The cat was let out of the bag when the administration sent top cabinet officials to the Lower House to assure representatives that they will still have their pork in key departments, like the Department of Education and the Department of Health.

Two simultaneous counts
At the end of yesterday’s activities, it was impossible to calculate on TV how big was the show at Rizal park, or whether the needle moved for the people’s initiative.

Let’s look at the national situation this way. We’re looking here at two simultaneous counts:

The countdown to President Aquino’s final day in the Presidency. As of today, he has exactly 674 days left in office.

The countup to the target of six-million signatures that has been set for the People’s initiative.

Both counts will be eagerly watched by the public, giving hope as the days dwindle for the Aquino government, and raising expectations as the six-million mark is approached.

I think the organizers of the People’s initiative should do an official count on social media, which the public can regularly consult.

It will drive interest in the signature campaign, encouraging those who have not yet signed up.

The Scrap Pork Network plans to go around the country to convince Filipinos to participate in the People’s Initiative.

No doubt, the Left will likewise deliver, as it usually does.

It would be an impressive achievement, worthy of the only Catholic country in Asia, if in January when Pope Francis touches down on Philippine soil, we the people can tell him ourselves that six million of us have signed up for an initiative to recover control of our money and our government.

yenmakabenta@yahoo.com

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20 Comments

  1. Reading all the comments, I am encourage by everyone to say something ..perhaps we need also to understand that 4 years is not enough for the President to have a 100% reform, iniwan tayo na mamamayan na punong-puno ng utang ,maliban dyan walang pundo halos, di po ba tayo masaya na less corruption tayo at nadarama natin ang pera ng gobyerno at hinde kagaya non na ni hinde mo alam kung me pera ba talaga at iilan lang sa nakaupo ang nakikinabang. kagaya ni tanda, poge at isa pa…. sinong magaakalang kasabwat sila? ngayon na nakikita natin ang pagbabago magrereklamo parin tayo? sinong gobyerno o presidente na nakabili ng mga gamit pangdigmaan? sino yong nagpapaabot sa tulong ng pantawid sa mga tao? san punta ang DAF? sa bulsa ba ni Pinoy? noon bat di tayo nagrereklamo na ni wala tayong nararam,daman na tulong sa baba? wag kasi tayong basta lang humusga, sana marunong din tayo mag appreciate.
    ask kulang ano ba naiambag natin?

    salamat!

  2. The people should speak up. Let us not be passive. I have been in Luneta and it was a dismal display of public apathy. There were less audience compared to the first. Most likely, it’s about the weather. Sometime in the wee hour of the morning, few hours before day break, there was heavy downpour. It seems it would not end. The sky that early morning was dark like it may again rain. The psychological effect was very strong.
    Why go to Luneta with this kind of weather. I woke up 5 am, and I only slept about 4 hours because I was busy preparing my 5 tarpaulins, and anticipating that the weather may be bad, I went back to sleep. But when I woke up again at 10:30 am, I have to rush because I do not want to miss the event. I want to be part of history. I arrived at 12:20 mid day, just 40 minutes before the end of the rally permit which was 1 pm. There was music blaring on the stage, the weather was warm, and people were already taking their meals. What remain then were the leftist organization, the real people who are affected by the ineptitude and corruption of these government. From Luneta, these marginalized poor organization, in spite of waking up early, and had barely ate a descent meal troop further to Mendiola to air their grievances. I just hope that this rally would not face a natural death because of public apathy.

  3. Horacio B. Freires on

    Pork out…!!. . .Discretionary funds out…!!. . .Lump sump funds in the budget out…!!. .

    .stop DAP. & PDAF completely.. . stop MALAMPAYA . Hidden in the annual budget, bring them out into the open. . and cut their necks like an ISIS unveiled. .

    THESE FUNDS MAKE THE RICH IN OUR PHILIPPINE SOCIETY RICHER IN AN ACCELERATED MANNER (CLOAKED IN THE SUBCONSCIOUS AS ELECTION CAMPAIGN FUNDS). . AND THE POOR. . MORE POORER. . THE ECONOMIC GAP BETWEEN THE TWO INCREASES IN A GARGANTUAN WAY. .

    PUT THESE FUNDS IN THE BUDGET FOLLOWING PNOY’S THINKING AND THE PHILIPPINE NATION WILL NEVER BE A FIRST WORLD COUNTRY. . ..

    REMOVE THESE FUNDS FROM THE BUDGET, STILL WE WILL NEVER BE A FIRST WORLD COUNTRY. .

    THERE’S NO DIFFERENCE. .

    BUT WE MINIMIZE THAT ECONOMIC GAP. . .AND WE PREVENT A REVOLUTION BY THE PEOPLE…DUE TO THE PERCEPTION OF CORRUPTION. . THE RICH BECOMING RICHER BY CORRUPTION. . .

    Can we have politicians who has True & Moral Intellect to govern. . .even without money?

  4. Fake reformist, who is trying to reform the government by trying hard to pass the cha cha. Our constitution should stay as it is, it is the current Pnoy government who wants to have many changes.

  5. Nagkataon lang ba na ang KUMpre ay katunog ng kumpare? Kasama ba sa Kkk ang nag Setup ng group na to?

  6. Mukha nanaginip sina Karina David, Leah Navaro para magpahayag na
    may positibong nagawa si Penoy para sa bansa na dapat daw bigyang
    halaga at pansin na maipag patuloy. Meron ba? Mahigit apat na
    taon na siya pero “nga nga” pa rin ang buong bansa. Kung Meron,
    sana huwag ninyo inililihim sa taong bayan, parang kayo lang ang
    nakakaalam na may nagawang kahit isa man lang positibo para
    sa bayan sa Penoy,

    Ganun din naman si Penoy, na napakahilig mag Akusa, “Mag-ingat
    daw sa Fake Repormist” Mukha nagmukhang Kenkoy ka nanaman,
    dahil malinaw sa sinabi mo na sa iyo patungkol at dapat mag-ingat ang
    buong Bayan. Meron ka na bang Repormang
    Nagawa, sige nga magsabi ka nga kahit isa? Matatawag bang reporma
    ang pagWawaldas ng pera na ipinagkatiwala sayo para ingatan at
    gamiting para sa kabutihan pero nauwi sa bulsa ng mga tong at
    Senatong. Kung naimpeach man si Corona, reporma bang
    matatawag yung panunuhol sa mga tong para iimpeach si Corona
    na wala ng aralan kung tama o mali ang charge sheet na pinirmahan
    nila sa loob lang ng 3 hanggan 5 oras, At reporma ba masasabi na
    ang mga hukom na Senatong na halos lahat nakinabang sa suhol mo,
    para iguilty. Mahiya ka naman sa mga pinagsasabi mo, “Kung Walang
    Kurap walang Mahirap” Lalo pang dumami ang naghihirap.

  7. I mean where in a democracy in the world does one get such concentration of power in such few hands? The Philippines is 100 million strong today.

  8. I don’t find this article amusing at all. If the idea of collecting 6 million signatures is
    simply to impress the Pope then obviously the people have been hoodwinked. The
    Pope himself has been struggling to root out the unsavory amongst his own aides. We read of the scandal in the Vatican Bank. Would it not be better if the people are
    encouraged to show their opposition to dynastic politics and compel Congress to
    enact a law banning such practices? The Philippine economy is controlled by 30
    families or so and it’s politics by 80 dynasties! Where else do you get such concentration of power in such few hands? The rallies being staged seem to be mere
    diversion from the real issues at hand. Let the courts handle the Congressmen who misappropriated pulic funds and get the Govt to account for such losses.

  9. This exercise is laudable and is good for the whole but the good intention might be overwhelmed by the sheer number of “YELLOW MOBS” with yellow brains. Those supporters of Abnoy who belong to the yellow mobs are his canine devotees.. Six years (1 term without re-election) is too long to wait to get rid of a sloppy President.

  10. The ‘sparse’ attendance can be explained in another way, since there are groups of organization joining in that are identified to be left leaning, some sectors of the society may not want to be identified with these groups and be labeled as such. However, the public must never lose sight of the objectivity of the signature drive, for in it lies the future of our generation and the republic.

    The lack of presence of physical warm bodies may not necessarily be a true gauge or actual barometer of the fight against fake reformers, but it can be a cause of concern for those who are curiously watching, because it does not tell or indicate the actual numbers, which would be difficult to predict the actual outcome that could work against them.

  11. It is too much for Ms. Bretana to ask the people not to make Aquino the main object if the rally. That was a protest and indignation rally against PDAF and DAP both of which were implemented by this administration headed by Aquino. Against whom should thepublic indignation for these acts be directed against, if not Aquino and his allies? Ms Bretana’s speech is suspicious , to be kind about it, but let’s hope that the convenors be more circumspect about chosing the speakers during the rally so as to leave no doubt as its reasons and objectives.

  12. “Unang hirit po ito, Yen. Our man from the palace must be all smiles – from ear to ear – I suppose, because after so many attempts at shooting, he seemed to have hit the target on August 25 with respect to the “People’s initiative versus Kompre-Aquino” showdown, using Machiavelli’s outrageous “divide and conquer” tactic. He and his “Bulong Brigrade” at the palace know, especially the one tasked to oversee the welfare of Filipinos in the fishing industry, that it is most difficult to catch fish in a muddled and turbulent waters. So, if the NOWHERE MAN in the palace is tempted to think that he had finally outwitted the Filipino people, and can now continue to erode our God-given gift of democracy and to shaken our resolve to curve our own destiny with heaven’s help, he’d better repulse such a temptation. Our people are aware of the fact that the “battle lines are drawn” (Kit’s). Our people, so humiliated, insulted, pushed around, are now ready to “reach for that unreachable star” freedom, justice, peace, and dignity) this administration has so maliciously and brutally denied them, us. My one prayer is that CONVERSION, on the part of the NOWHERE MAN in the palace and his cohorts, and FORGIVENESS on the people’s, our part, so that what Is. 11:16: “The wolf and the lamb shall feed together…” might become for us a sweet reality. What a fitting gift to offer to Pope Francis when he comes to visit us in January. Heighten this longing in all of us through your journalistic endowments, please. Thank you.

  13. FERDINAND CANDO on

    how can we (OFWs) sign here overseas for people’s initiative against pork barrel. I am here at Saudi Arabia.

  14. Anong “reforms” ang tinutukoy ni Aquino – Single Payroll System, Government Accounting and Auditing, Cross-Functional information Database Sharing, Service Delivery Improvement? Baka ang reforms na tinutukoy niya ay ang PDAF at DAP aka Stimulus Fund daw. Baka ang reform na tinutukoy niya ay yung equitable distribution of their loot of people’s money.

    Example na lang yung Transition Investment Support Plan or TISP for the ARMM. May Governance Reforms component yun gaya ng Building Integrity in Transactional Services such as procurement, budgeting and personnel actions, Electronic Auditing to improve financial accountability, Civic Education (Voter’s Education), etc. Nagawa ba ang mga ito? Hindi. May SARO ba? Oo. May Notice of Cash Allocation or NCA ba? Wala. Yet sigun sa mga reports, naubos yung 8.5B na budgeted para sa TISP na galing daw sa Stimulus Fund aka DAP.

    Sobrang taas yata ang public apathy threshold dito. Wala kang makitang national outrage in numbers that would shake down Malacanang, Congress, COA, Ombudsman at DOJ.

  15. Obviously the rally that was held at the Luneta are Aquino ass-lickers especially the leader of Scrap Pork Network, Peachy Bretana. Even if Pork Barrel is outlawed, for as long as Abnoy is at the helm of gov’t. pork will never cease to exist. The Executive Branch, led by a Thief Executive, and both Houses of Tongress, being inhabited by crooks and robbers, should be abolish and instead a Transitional Govt. be put in place. Likewise, people should change their attitude towards governance. People should uphold their sovereignty and show these crooks in government who really is the boss.

  16. People’s Initiative, filing of Impeachment and demonstration on the street are useless actions, it won’t help to remove PNoy from office. The only way to remove this FS is either wait for his term to finish or military intervention.