ON NATIONAL Heroes Day, protesters from different sectors and of various advocacies trooped to Rizal Park for a single, common cause: the abolition of the pork barrel.
In true rally fashion, they came bearing banners and posters painted with calls for the scrapping of the Priority Development Assistance Fund or PDAF, that a special audit of the Commission on Audit revealed had been riddled with corruption involving lawmakers, executive agencies, and nongovernment organizations.
The protest tagged as the ‘Million-People March’ took place two days after President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III supposedly called for the abolition of pork. But what the president actually meant was the revision — yet again — was the supposed abolition of PDAF but not the pork barrel system.
In the 2011 national budget, the first crafted by his administration, Aquino already introduced modifications in the PDAF system. He set a ceiling of pork funds for lawmakers and disallowed insertions in the budgets of line agencies. Transparency measures were also put in place supposedly to ensure the accountable use of PDAF.
But what has not changed since pork’s inception in Philippine politics is that the use of funds essentially remains at the discretion of senators and congressmen. They choose which project to implement, where to carry it out, and who will benefit from it.
The threat of downpour did not dissuade many from staging what is said to be the first and biggest demonstration in the Aquino administration.
Text by Karol Ilagan
Images by Karol Ilagan/Ed Lingao