August 25, 2013 · Posted in: 2013 Elections, Access to Information, Civil Society, Congress Watch, Culture, Freedom of Information, Governance, In the News, Investigative Reports, Money Politics, Noynoy Watch, The Economy
THE MARCHERS HAVE YET to take their first step to the Luneta and rally sites in cities across the nation tomorrow.
But already an epidemic of on ground and online protest against pork and budget scams has engulfed the nation, assuring that the marches could draw significant numbers and success.
While most everyone has spoken against the scams, President Aquino and the majority of lawmakers have responded with only minor reforms, or promise of reforms, seemingly impervious to the core content of the citizens’ clamor. In various statements, the citizens have raised similar calls, notably:
– Abolish pork and special purpose funds of all types and names, which lawmakers command and the President controls.
– Conduct an independent and comprehensive investigation into all the pork and budget scams, from the previous to the present administrations.
– Bring to trial everyone from the legislative and executive branches who are behind the abuse and misuse of pork and public funds, regardless of political party affiliation.
– Pass the Freedom of Information Act to assure full transparency and accountability in the use of taxpayers’ money.
The students, faculty members, and administrators of the biggest universities and colleges, and the leaders of the major churches and civil society groups have pledged to the last to send their contingent to the Luneta tomorrow.
In a statement issued on Friday, the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP) called on its 1,252 member schools across the nation to support the citizens’ march.
The academic communities of the University of the Philippines, De La Salle University, Ateneo de Manila University, and other colleges have issued separate statements with similar demands.
The FOI Youth Initiative (FYI), a national coalition of 129 student councils and organizations that is pushing for the passage of the Freedom of Information Act, has also pledged to join the protest march.
The Right to Know, Right Now! Coalition, which counts the FYI among its 160 member-organizations of workers, civil servants, informal settlers, overseas Filipino workers, academics, church groups, businessmen, and civil society groups will also send a delegation to the Luneta.
Days earlier, a joint statement from the Bishops-Businessmen’s Conference, the Makati Business Club, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines-National Secretariat for Social Action, the Citizens’ Congress for Good Governance,, and the Transparency and Accountability Network have raised similar demands of the President and Congress.
On ground and online, the protest movement against pork and budget scams has gained a seemingly unstoppable momentum.
It was, after all, the brilliant idea of some netizens to marshall the ranks of the people to the Luneta tomorrow. By some stroke of both fate and genius, August 26 is also fittingly observed in these parts as “National Heroes’ Day”.
In a report, the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) gave a lay-of-land story on the forces and the numbers that now make up the people’s campaign against pork and budget scams.
Nearly every news report on the pork scam has triggered “a massive number of Facebook, Twitter, and blog posts”, and tons of photos and video to boot, CMFR noted.
Online art and memes have flourished, and hashtags aplenty have been born, nearly all drawing large numbers of followers.
CMFR said these hashtags include #porkbarrelscam, #PDAFscam, #ScrapPork, #PDAFKalampag, #PorkBarrel, #TayoAngBoss, #OnePinoy, #MillionPeopleMarch, #ProtestaNgBayan, #YesConchitaCan, among others.
“As of Aug. 23, Change.org — a petition platform online — shows a total of 19 petitions with an estimated total of 26,942 signatures supporting various campaigns on the PDAF issue,” CMFR said.
These petitions include those uploaded by the Former Senior Government Officials (FSGO), with 15,802 supporters; the Citizens’ Congress for Good Governance (C2G2), Inc., with 2,840 supporters; and Ang Kapatiran Party (Kapatiran sa Pangkalahatang Kabutihan Party/Alliance for the Common Good), with 156 supporters.
Individual netizens have mounted similar petitions, CMFR said, including Lawrence Salvador with 4,489 supporters, and John Alfred Lucot, with 1,012 supporters.
By all indications, an epidemic of protest against pork and budget scams will carry to certain success the people’s march tomorrow at the Luneta and other cities of the nation.
At the very least, the march could serve as a national collective shout-out, one of the citizens claiming their rightful power over their leaders so the latter may follow as instructed — abolish pork, investigate and punish all the guilty, and pass the FOI law promptly.
But what happens next after the march?
To be sure, one march will not usher in transparency, accountability, and good governance in full glory. Or even assure the death of pork. It seems like everyone needs to wait, watch, and rail and wail against pork and budget scams for much longer, until real results and reforms come.
Wise counsel comes from two great writers.
To the leaders:
“You only have power over people so long as you don’t take everything away from them. But when you’ve robbed a man of everything, he’s no longer in your power – he’s free again.”
– Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Russian novelist, historian, and author of The Gulag Archipelago
And to the citizens:
“There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.”
- Elie Wiesel, Romanian born American writer, Nobel Prize for Peace winner in 1988