Anti-pork barrel student group to stage walkout on August 23
MANILA, Philippines - Youth groups are set to protest against the pork barrel on August 23, on the 117th anniversary of the Cry of Pugad Lawin.
The Youth for Accountability and Truth Now (Youth Act Now!), led by convener Einstein Recedes, announced on August 19 their plan to lead students in a simultaneous walkout of classes on August 23.
The group is calling for the abolition of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel system. They are also critical of the administration’s response to reports of widespread corruption and misuse of PDAF.
“Matindi po talaga ang deafening silence ng presidente. Hindi naman pwede na nagbubulag-bulagan, nagbibingi-binigian ang presidente at ang kongreso sa isyu na ito,” said Rep Teddy Ridon of the Kabataan Partylist. (The deafening silence of the president is already too much. Congress and the president should not turn a blind eye on this issue)
Aside from the PDAF, Youth Act Now also wants the president’s version of the pork barrel, the President’s Social Fund (PSF) abolished.
According to Marc Abila, National Deputy Secretary General of the College Editors Guild of the Philipines (CEGP), the money from the PDAF, if abolished, can be used to directly fund basic social services. Abila added that, if this happens, the needs of Filipinos will be met such as housing, education, and health services.
“Napaka-ironic na habang ini-increase ang prone-to-corruption na PDAF, ang mga estudyante naman ay nagsa-suffer ng kakulangan sa pasilidad at pag-increase ng tuition,” UP Student Regent Krista Melgajero said. (It’s very ironic that while the budget for the corruption-prone PDAF will be increased, students suffer from tuition fee increase and a lack in facilities.)
The Youth Act Now alliance was convened during the botched ZTE-NBN Broadband deal under the Arroyo administration. They are calling for greater accountability and transparency in government.
The group says the August 23 nationwide simultaneous walkout is only one of the actions lined up against the government of President Aquino. – Rappler.com
Jodesz Gavilan was a former Rappler intern.