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Monday, September 30, 2013

Philippines-Thousands unite vs pork barrel

An estimated 2,500 people gathered in this city Sunday to call for the abolition of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), also known as pork barrel of Philippine legislators.

The gathering, organized by the Cebu Coalition Against the Pork Barrel System (CCATPBS), was held at the iconic Plaza Independencia, where a Mass, concelebrated by at least 22 priests, was held around 3 p.m. after a march from Fuente Osmena.

The CCATPBS, which is composed of more than 50 interfaith, academic, business and civil society groups, said the activity was held to denounce the pork barrel controversy and, at the same time, call for an end to government corruption.

About P10 billion from some lawmakers’ PDAF were allegedly used for ghost projects of Janet Lim-Napoles, owner of trading company JLN Corp. Five senators and 23 congressmen were reported to have benefited from the scheme.

Fr. Carmelo Diola, who delivered the Homily at Plaza Independencia after the march, said an amount like P10 billion is “mind-boggling.”

“It is not easy to fathom especially for a rich yet impoverished nation like the Philippines… With P10 billion, that’s about enough money for about P150,000 street children to finish Grade 7 from kindergarten,” he said.

Diola said the pork barrel was intended to serve the poor, but “what is even more mind-boggling is why people who are in a position to do much good just try to give the appearance of good.”

He stressed: “God put us in positions of power to do good especially to the poor. He holds us accountable when we fail to do this through deliberate choices.”

He then urged the people who joined the rally Sunday to be part of the solution by calling for the abolition of the controversial assistance fund.

“We must act discerningly and decisively. We need to come together to change ourselves…We shall work with Filipinos in other countries who want change now,” he said. “Adunay tawag sa paglaum ug giawhag kita nga magkapundok aron sa tinuoray nga kabag-ohan.”

Also during the interfaith rally, the CCATPRS urged the participants to sign the “unity statement” against pork barrel.

The activity Sunday was just one of the rallies held nationwide against PDAF. It was supported by Cebu Archbishop Jose S. Palma, who earlier invited the public to join the event, saying the pork barrel system is “out of tune.”
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