Maybe one million Filipinos will troop to the Rizal Park today. Or maybe the numbers will be much less.
However many of our countrymen head for the Quirino Grandstand area to attend the Million People March, the cause should not be lost on our leaders.
This one is for Juan.
Juan de la Cruz to be precise. This march is for all the millions of Filipinos who have been shocked at how the pork barrel allocations of our senators and congressmen have gone to waste.
Not just millions or hundreds of millions have disappeared into some abyss. There is ample evidence to indicate that billions of pesos have been lost, dissipated to useless or even non-existent projects.
Meanwhile, millions of poor Filipinos are unable to lift themselves out of their sad lots. The Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel would have helped improve their lives, and to some extent the proper use of PDAF has indeed been of assistance to numerous countrymen.
But the anger that has built up following the revelations that one “businesswoman” alone was able to pocket billions had made Juan de la Cruz, the quintessential Filipino Everyman, very mad indeed.
Hopefully, today’s rally will not only deliver the numbers but will also be a peaceful, non-political exercise in honest to goodness people power.
Even before the march-cum-rally had been planned, the overwhelming majority of our senators have already announced that they are in favor of scrapping the PDAF. It maybe too little too late, but at least the waste will be put to a stop.
President Benigno Aquino 3rd has also surrendered to the public pulse by announcing last week that he, too, wanted to scrap pork barrel. It will be recalled that Mr. Aquino had earlier stated that he did not want to do away with pork barrel because from his own experience as a congressman, he was able to do some good for his constituents with his pork barrel allocations.
As President, Mr. Aquino also has his own pork barrel, albeit under a different name than PDAF.
The question now is how the representatives at the lower house of Congress will act. Will the majority also surrender to the public will, or will they fight tooth and nail to keep their pork?
Congressmen have always had the reputation of being pork barrel addicts. For the past many decades, in its various guises, the members of the House have lived to spend their pork, at least the majority of them.
It’s safe to say that some congressmen ran for the sole purpose of having the P70 million per year allotted to them. Where else would they get the kickbacks and commissions to recoup their election expenses, and then some?
If, however, the members of the House finally relent to the wishes of the people, they can at least regain some of the trust that the public had for them before.
Besides a peaceful and non-political rally, it is also prayed that groups with their own agendas stay away from the event, be they from the Left, Right, non-government organizations, or simply in need of attention.
Today is National Heroes Day. Recall that with the original People Power Revolution, the world looked at the Philippines as “the land of a million heroes.”
Let is be so again. Let a million Juan de la Cruzes speak up and let the national leadership heed the message: No more pork.