THOUSANDS of rallyists turned to bashing President Benigno Aquino 3rd on Thursday to mark the observance of Independence Day.
The rallyists called the President “protector of thieves” and “coddler of pork lovers,” referring to his refusal to fire members of his Cabinet who have been implicated in the anomaly involving the misuse of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel.
Intermittent rains failed to dampen the resolve of the rallyists who had converged in several areas before marching to Liwasang Bonifacio in Manila. Contingents from nearby provinces proceeded directly to the Bonifacio Shrine in the plaza to join members of Scrap Pork Network, bringing with them umbrellas bearing anti-pork slogans. The 6.12.14 Protest Coalition also joined the rally.
The coalition seethed at Aquino’s Independence Day pledge to fight corruption, uphold the rule of law and forge a just and equitable country as his “greatest tribute to Filipino patriots who fought injustice to win the nation’s independence 116 years ago.”
Coalition spokesman and lawyer Argee Guevarra dismissed this as “porky platitude soaking in hogwash” as he scoffed at Aquino’s guarantee that his administration is “combatting corruption.”
“How can the President combat corruption when he coddles the corrupt and defines ‘rule of law’ as exempting from criminal investigation and prosecution his Kaklase, Kabarkada at Kabarilan [Classmates, Gangmates and Shooting Buddies]?” he asked.
“Instead of empty talk about combatting corruption, the President should consider gulping barrels of Combantrin [referring to a de-worming syrup]to flush out cholesterol-addicts in his Cabinet and from his LP or ‘Lovers of Pork,’” Guevarra said.
The rallyists represented Kontra-Korapsyon, Movement Against Dynasties (MAD), Tanggol Demokrasya (TanDem), Scrap Pork Network (SPN), consumer group WARM and Alliance for Truth Integrity and Nationalism (ATIN) and various Quezon City and Caloocan City civil-society groups that marched from Welcome Rotunda; and Church-based groups and cause-oriented organizations such as Sanlakas, Kongreso ng Pagkakaisa ng Maralitang Lungsod (KPML) and Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) that assembled at Plaza Salamanca, Taft Avenue, in Manila. They paraded a mock jail for Tanda, Sexy and Pogi (opposition senators) and Panot, Pandak and Praise-the-Roof (Cabinet secretaries).
Meanwhile, groups belonging to the #Abolishpork Movement slammed the Aquino government for its failure to bring to justice all of those involved in the multi-billion peso pork barrel scam. The groups are not content with the filing of plunder and graft complaints against senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jose ‘Jinggoy” Estrada and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. and several former government officials.
“We reiterate our demand that all those who participated and benefited from the pork barrel scam should be made accountable. The people deserve nothing less. It has become a cause of great outrage that the administration protects its allies implicated in the pork scam,” said Sister Mary John Mananzan, a convenor of the #Abolishpork Movement.
Janet Lim-Napoles had also linked Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala and Joel Villanueva, chief of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority to the pork barrel scam but Malacañang had said the three officials are innocent until proven guilty.
A giant “Golden Pig” made its return to the street protests after first appearing in anti-pork actions in Makati City last year. This time, the pig wore a crown, a reference to the Pork Barrel King label given to Aquino at the height of the mass actions in 2013.
“Filipinos are called upon now to show love of country, in a time when our rights and interests are being trampled on by the ruling few. We should never tire of demanding accountability, as we should never tire of fighting to change the rotten and corrupt system that benefits only the few,” said musician Monet Silvestre of #abolishpork.
The harshest criticism was reserved for Aquino. The groups said the President had long known of the various personalities involved in the pork scam. Aquino has ordered Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to draw up a matrix of names of those implicated in the pork scam, categorizing the names among those where evidence is strong, weak and where there is purportedly no evidence.
“We carry on the fight for sovereignty and democracy as we march to Mendiola Bridge today to bring the protest at the doorsteps of the Pork Barrel King himself. He has become the main stumbling block to achieving complete justice. Aquino has become the protector of thieves and the chief proponent of presidential pork. In fact, nothing in his Naga speech indicated that he would be going after his allies implicated in the pork scam,” said Bayan Secretary General Renato Reyes Jr.
Anti-pork Muslim organizations also marched from Plaza Miranda, Quiapo, while Koalisyon Kontrapork, labor organizations under Nagkaisa! and MASO, Freedom from Debt Coalition massed up in Santa Cruz, Manila.
Among those who joined the “Rally for Accountability” are Pagbabago! People’s Movement for Change, Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) with Dante Jimenez, Whistleblowers Association of the Philippines, Concerned Citizens Movement, Babae Laban sa Katiwalian (BABALA), Church People’s Alliance Against Pork led by Fr. Ben Alforque, Ang Kapatiran Party, Artista Kontra Korapsyon (AKSYON) led by National Artist Bienvenido Lumbera, Anti-Trapo Movement, Youth ACT Now!, RX Pork, DePORK, UP Faculty vs Pork, Youth ACT Now! and organizations under Bagong Alyansang Makabayan.