MANILA, Philippines – It’s all systems go for the Million People March against the pork barrel on Monday, August 26, National Heroes Day, at the Luneta in Manila.
Similar protests will be mounted in key cities nationwide and in countries where OFWs are based. The protests were triggered by widespread opposition to the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), following a scandal linking Janet Lim-Napoles to lawmakers and fake non-government organizations.
Let’s look at the events and issues that led to the online and ground mobilization for the Monday protests:
July 12, Friday – The alleged multi-billion pork barrel scam is exposed by the Philippine Daily Inquirer. The scam, as revealed by principal witness Benhur Luy, links 5 senators and 23 congressmen to the funding of ghost projects through their PDAF.
July 16, Tuesday – Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales creates a panel to look into the alleged pork barrel-funded ghost projects.
July 17, Wednesday – In a statement read by her lawyer at a press conference, Napoles denies her involvement in the supposed massive misuse of PDAF.
July 18, Thursday – Benhur Luy is put under the government’s Witness Protection Program.
July 26, Friday – The lavish lifestyle of Napoles’ daughter Jeane, including her extravagant debut party and expensive properties, is revealed.
August 5, Monday – The minority bloc in the House of Representatives files a resolution seeking to investigate the alleged misuse of lawmakers’ pork barrel.
August 5, Monday – In a unanimous decision, the Senate agrees not to investigate the multi-billion peso pork barrel scam.
August 7, Wednesday – When PDAF was discussed during the first day of deliberations on the proposed 2014 budget, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad says the decision to abolish or keep it is up to Congress.
August 14, Wednesday – A Makati court orders the arrest of Napoles and her brother Reynaldo “Jojo” Lim over charges they illegally detained Luy.
August 16, Friday – The Commission on Audit (COA) releases a special audit report on how PDAF was used from 2007 to 2009. It looked into how the PDAF of all lawmakers were used in 3 agencies, 4 government corporations, 5 provinces, and 8 cities. COA says some P6.156 billion went to 82 questionable NGOs, including 10 NGOs linked to Napoles that got P2.1 billion.
August 16, Friday – The Court of Appeals (CA) orders the freezing of the bank accounts of Napoles, as well as that of her family members, relatives and staff.
August 17, Saturday – Friends Arnold Pedrigal, Peachy Bretana, and Bernardo Bernardo create a Facebook event page to bring together netizens who want to abolish the pork barrel.
August 19, Monday – President Aquino reiterates his refusal to abolish the pork barrel.
August 19, Monday – Akbayan, a party list allied with the president, asks Aquino to “immediately and without conditions” abolish PDAF.
August 20, Tuesday – The Senate backtracks. Sen TG Guingona, chairman Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, says they have decided to conduct a formal investigation, saying the committee has found sufficient basis to proceed with the probe.
August 20, Tuesday – Sen Bam Aquino, a cousin of the President, announces he will not use his pork barrel fund until the investigation into the pork scam is over and necessary charges are filed against those who abused it.
August 20, Tuesday – President Aquino says he has ordered the Inter-Agency Anti-Graft Coordinating Council or IAAGCC to probe the PDAF scam.
August 21, Wednesday – Sen Alan Peter Cayetano, another ally of the President, says he is set to file a concurrent resolution calling for the scrapping of PDAF.
August 22, Thursday – Sen Francis Escudero, also an Aquino ally, filed Senate Resolution No 193, which seeks to abolish PDAF.
August 23, Friday – In a televised addressed, Aquino announces his plan to reform the pork barrel system and replace the much-maligned PDAF. Netizens dismiss the President’s statement, saying he was merely re-naming PDAF.
August 23, Saturday – Various groups and key personalities say they will push through with the Million People March on August 26 despite Aquino’s reform plans. – Rappler.com