Thousands on Friday assembled at the business hub of Makati City to renew calls for the abolition of all forms of pork barrel, including the Budget department’s Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
The “Million People March” held at the Ayala Triangle attracted 10,000 people, according to one estimate. It was a far smaller crowd than the close to 70,000 that packed Rizal Park during the first Million People March last August 26.
But the clamor to scrap the pork barrel was no less strident.
Bishop Broderick Pabillo, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Manila, one of the early speakers in the Makati rally, described the DAP is but another form of pork barrel that needs to be done away with.
“That (DAP) is also pork barrel which is being used by the government to bribe lawmakers to support them,” Pabillo said in his extemporaneous speech.
To prevent the misuse of public funds, he called for transparency and the close monitoring of government spending.
“There should be transparency ad stewardship of handling government funds,” said Pabillo, who is also the chairman of the Episcopal Commission on Social Action, Justice and Peace of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).
If the administration of President Benigno Aquino 3rd and his allies in Congress are serious in curbing corruption, Pabillo said, they should push for the enactment of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill.
Patricia Tan, spokesperson of the Scrap Pork Network, also considered DAP as a form of pork barrel because the President and lawmakers have discretionary authority over it.
Tan, however, said there is no proof that the DAP fund releases were used to bribe senators into convicting chief justice Renato Corona during his impeachment trial.
The Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) expressed support for the Million People March in Makati.
The MAP said there should be a “thorough house cleaning” in government by abolishing the PDAF and running after wrongdoers.
MAP Vice President Rafael Alunan told reporters during a forum at the Asian Institute of Management that some business leaders participated in the rally not as business leaders “bearing their corporate flags, but as concerned Filipinos.”
“They have to see a thorough house cleaning of the government and run after wrongdoers in the Senate and Congress including their accomplices and accessories in the executive branch, and LGUs [local government units]among others,” Alunan said.
Alunan said the business leaders earlier talked to Senate President Franklin Drilon to deliver to President Benigno Aquino 3rd their request to abolish the PDAF, to run after wrongdoers and to pass the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill that will promote greater transparency.
He said that business executives have been supporting the anti-pork movement ever since it started in Luneta.
“I think it is important for government to show that they are rolling out a campaign to clean house, clean up each implementing institutions of criminal syndicates…I think people want to see that happen,” Alunan, who was Tourism undersecretary during the Cory Aquino administration, said.