MANILA, Philippines – A newly-formed coalition against corruption and the pork barrel system is calling on Filipinos to join an Independence Day protest at the Kartilya ng Katipunan in Manila City.
“June 12 is the day of reckoning, when we (will urge) those accountable to come forward with full transparency,” ScrapPork Network’s TJ Besa told media as he introduced the 6.12.14 protest coalition.
The coalition is composed of over 20 organizations unified by one objective – to reassert freedom from what they described as “systemic corruption and state neglect.”
Impatient with Aquino
The protest is expected to show the public’s growing impatience with how the government has addressed the corruption scandal since it was exposed almost a year ago. (Read: Pork Tales: A story of corruption)
“We have been very patient with this government, but for the past several months, we felt that we have just been fed with a bucket of lies. said lawyer Argee Guevarra, the coalition’s spokesperson.
The government appears to be just dribbling the issue until the next elections, according to the group.
“We have to remind the president that his non-action and his failure to address our basic demands regarding the pork barrel system. He will be held accountable as an accessory to the case,” Guevarra added.
Senator Panfilo Lacson, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Philippine Daily Inquirer, and alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Napoles have released separate lists of senators, congressmen, and cabinet officials allegedly involved in the pork barrel scam. (Read: Napoles details ‘transactions’ with 20 senators)
The coalition suspected the lists have been altered by the government to save allies. (READ: Making sense of the Napoles lists)
“We fear that probably the reason why the Department of Justice has taken time is to sanitize the list, to exclude administration allies,” Guevarra added.
Step up or step down
The coalition has a clear message for President Benigno Aquino III – they want to see everyone involved in the pork barrel scam put behind bars.
The group also demanded that those involved in the corruption scandal return what they have “robbed” from the national coffer.
The coalition stressed that Aquino should take action before August 26, which marks the first year anniversary of the #MillionPeopleMarch, the first of the series of protests staged against the pork barrel system.
If their demands are not addressed by then, the coalition warned that they will resort to “drastic measures” that include strikes, tax-revolt, and civil disobedience.
“If he does not respond to the people’s demands, then this government will have to step down,” Guevarra said.
To hype up the Independence Day protest, the coalition will hold a rally on June 6 at the People Power Monument along EDSA in Quezon City.
A hunger strike will also be staged at Kartilya ng Katipunan in Manila City beginning June 9 to show that a lot of Filipinos still remain hungry and poor despite Aquino’s campaign against corruption, Guevarra said. – Rappler.com/with a report from Mara Cepeda
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