Pork misuse agitates retired soldiers

Retired soldiers are angered by the pork barrel issue

MANIFESTO: Retired soldiers vow they will continue to be vigilant on issues of corruption

MANILA, Philippines — “We cannot and we will not tolerate this anymore even those from among our own,” reads a manifesto signed by retired soldiers now circulating on Facebook.

It expresses their disgust with the way lawmakers have “unabashedly used their position to steal, deceive and enrich themselves at the expense of their fellowmen most of whom continue to suffer in utter poverty.”

Agitated by the pork barrel misuse widely reported in the media, the retired soldiers started posting thoughts on the issue in an exclusive Facebook account shared only by former cadets and graduates of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA), including senators Panfilo Lacson, Antonio Trillanes IV, and other lawmakers who graduated from the military school. 

The outrage among Filipinos has prompted the mobilization of a protest rally scheduled on Monday, August 26. On Friday, August 23, however, President Benigno Aquino III announced his decision to abolish the pork barrel and replace it with a reformed system.

READ: Aquino: Overhauled pork to replace PDAF

Former Navy Lt Sg Harlie Llave said the PMA graduates who signed the manifesto are not joining the anti-pork protests on Monday, although he’s not ruling out the attendance of some.

“We trust that this government through the President who advocated good governance and the fight against corruption through the Daang Matuwid will fulfill what they had promised,” the manifesto reads.

Llave said the online signing of the petition was a “spontaneous group action with no one clearly leading.” He added: “We were really unanimous in expressing the same sentiments  that are now in the manifesto, that we decided to come out and tell the world about it.”

Soldiers in Congress

The manifesto has 46 signatories but Llave said there are more who want to sign. 

The manifesto says it is not enough that the pork barrel is abolished. It demands that the “stolen funds” be returned to the government and that lawmakers involved in its misuse are punished. 

“We pledge our honor, in the memory of our fallen Cavaliers who gave their all and in the revered name of the PMA that we will be vigilant on issues of corruption so as to give to the Filipino people,” the manifesto adds. (Read the complete manifesto below.)

There’s also a demand for an explanation from fellow PMA graduates who are now in Congress.

“They must account for their deeds,” said retired Brig Gen Ricardo Morales, who had been at the forefront of exposing corruption in the military.

The pork barrel misuse is so much bigger than military corruption, he said. What it shows, he added, is that corruption is “systemic” in government.

Trillanes told Rappler he saw the discussion on Facebook initiated by his fellow PMA graduates.” I did not find it appropriate to join in the discussions because I am part of the government, which is supposed to be the recipient of these calls  and are supposed to do something about it,” Trillanes said.

“I assure the PMAers and the public that we are going to do something about it,” Trillanes added. 

In 2003, Trillanes himself led the so-called “Oakwood Mutiny” that exposed widespread corruption in the military. He’s now an ally of the President.

The manifesto is also not blaming the President for the pork barrel issue. “We trust that this government through the President who advocated good governance and the fight against corruption throught the Daang Matuwid” will fulfill what they had promised,” the manifesto reads.

MANIFESTO: Retired soldiers call for the abolition of the pork barrel

– Rappler.com