BACOLOD CITY, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Peace Advocates of Negros joined voices of protest against the abuse and misuse of pork barrel and issued a statement titled, “Thou Shalt Not Steal” on Monday, August 26.
Earlier, various groups from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao said they were organizing their own protests.
In front of the provincial Capitol building at about 9 am on Monday, more than 2,000 Negrenses joined the nationwide call for the abolition of pork barrel and signed a manifesto, urging the prosecution of lawmakers and their accomplices in the plunder of government coffers.
The Negrosanons Kontra Korapsyon (NKK), which spearheaded the activity, said in a manifesto, “We are enraged by how some of our legislators/public officials and line agency heads, in connivance with unscrupulous NGOs and their accomplices, have perpetuated systematic plunder and deliberate abuse of the PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund) through the years.”
Raymund Javellana, one of the NKK convenors and president of the Alliance of Negrense Tourism Stakeholders, said, “We should now demand for transparency and accountability in the allocation and use of these funds to various projects of different agencies, such as the departments of Health, Education, Public Works and Highways, Tourism, etc., and create a body to monitor these closely.”
Javellana added, “Mr. President, our desire for good governance continues and our resolve for accountability and transparency stronger. We remain vigilant.”
The Negros peace advocates group said that as taxpayers asserting their right to benefit from basic services from paid taxes, they demand the following:
- Scrap pork barrel
- Account for all spent pork barrel
- Investigate and punish those guilty of abusing pork
The group, which has been pushing for peace in Negros, said that corruption in the port barrel system shows the failure of government to safeguard the people’s interests. Government lacks funds because “our money, in billions of pesos worth, have been siphoned off to the pockets of corrupt politicians and private suppliers.”
Government, the Peace Advocates of Negros said, should present an audited report that shows where and how the pork barrel was spent.
Furthermore, to prove government has the political will to stop corruption, the group said, “we demand the prosecution and punishment of those involved in the P10B pork barrel scam. Everyone must be held accountable.”
The advocates added that while they regard as a positive sign President Benigno Aquino III’s response to the “people’s mounting anger,” pork is not PDAF [Priority Development Assistance Fund]. It refers to all modes of public spending that has little or no accountability, including the billions of discretionary funds available to all branches of government.
“We will not accept any attempt to simply rename the same Pork Barrel with another one to appease the angry citizens,” the group’s statement said.
They said they will stand firm in launching a “sustained campaign” to fight pork until it is banished from Philippine politics.
Green Alert Negros, in a separate statement, said its members are deeply saddened by the billions of people’s money that just went to the pockets of politicians, contractors and notorious NGOs and wasted on non-socially productive projects and services.
In Negros, the pork could have been used to generate renewable energy, reforest bald mountains and natural parks, rehabilitate river basins and irrigation systems, develop effective marine protection systems, GAN said. – Rappler.com