STUDENT leaders from various universities and national youth groups under the Youth Act Now! network will be joining the nationwide signature campaign and protests against the pork barrel system.
In a press conference at the University of the Philippines in Manila, Youth Act Now co-convenor and National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) national president Sarah Jane Elago and leaders of youth and student groups said they will join the campaign to gather six million signatures to abolish all kinds of pork barrel in government.
The collection of signatures kicked off yesterday at the Cebu City Plaza Independencia in time for the commemoration of the Sigaw ng Pugadlawin, the historic event that marked the beginning of the Philippine revolution against Spanish conquerors.
“An intensified and more decisive battle to end corruption starts today,” Elago said.
The youth network participated as member of the preparatory committee and one of the leading groups present in the People’s Congress in Cebu. The congress was also attended by leaders and representatives from organizations seeking a stop to the system of patronage.
“We are here to affirm our fervent vigor to step up the fight and act now to end the system of corruption,” Victor Villanueva, the network’s spokesperson, said.
The people’s initiative bill seeks to scrap all forms of pork barrel. It requires endorsement of at least six million or 10 percent of the total registered voters nationwide with at least three percent of all voters in every legislative district before the Commission of Elections verifies it and allows a referendum.
The youth network reiterated that several legal measures are being undertaken to seek accountability from the Aquino administration in connection with the pork barrel system and Disbursement Acceleration Program that were both outlawed by the Supreme Court.
“Our demand for accountability from the Aquino government will remain unswerving. The people’s initiative bill is another significant step in our strategic effort to relieve the system of corruption and incriminate the Thief Executive and his cohorts,” Elago said.
Youth Act Now invited the Filipino youth and other sectors to attend the initial signature event for people’s initiative and massive protest against corruption on Monday at Rizal Park in Manila.
The youth network also urged all voters to sign up at booths that will be set up in churches, local government offices and schools.
League of Filipino Students spokesperson and Youth Act Now co-convenor Charlotte Velasco said young people should join the upcoming mass actions against corruption.
“The corrupt system and the government that perpetuates it will both fall, and the people will make sure it does. We will assert it through various ways – either by curtailing the flow of corrupt funds through people’s initiative, dismantling the President’s crimes through the impeachment trial, and staging massive protests seeking for serious and long-lasting system change,” Velasco said.
The Kabataan party-list has also expressed its full support for the campaign to pass a bill that will abolish the pork barrel system through people’s initiative.
“We commit to mobilizing all of our regional chapters, and our 90,000 strong nationwide memberships towards the success of this effort,” Rep. Terry Ridon said.
“The Makabayan bloc filed House Bill House Bill No. 1535 in July last year, which seeks to dismantle the pork barrel system, and is similar to the one being pushed by the People’s Congress now. Yet over a year has already passed and the bill has yet to be calendared for committee deliberation. That is why I and my colleagues in Makabayan have decided to throw our support to the People’s Initiative,” Ridon said.