Tagle joins rally, prays for heroism
MANILA, Philippines — Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle joined thousands of Filipinos at the Luneta Park in Manila on Monday, August 26, to call for the abolition of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel.
Before a cheering crowd, Tagle challenged Filipinos to show that the Philipines is a country of heroes and people of integrity. He also asked the public to empathize with the majority who are poor. The protest coincides with the country's observance of National Heroes Day.
"Patunayan po natin na marangal ang Pilipino (Let us prove that Filipinos are people of integrity)," Tagle told the crowd that cheered his presence.
Watch part of his speech at the event below.
The so-called "million people march" is one of the largest public demonstrations since President Benigno Aquino III was elected in 2010 on an anti-corruption platform.
The protesters ranged from nuns and priests and students to businessmen, middle-class families, lawyers and other professionals, showcasing the broad-based anger over graft in the impoverished nation.
The Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines mobilized its member schools and universities to join the march.
Tagle said integrity should prevail in all sectors of society - families, schools, offices, jails, camps, courts, churches, mosques, Senate, House of Representatives, and the executive branch of government. "Bakit marangal? May takot sa Diyos, may paggalang sa buhay at pagpapahalaga sa kapwa tao, malasakit sa bayan, at pag-aaruga sa kalikasan," Tagle added. "Ang marangal na sarili ang siyang dapat mamayani. May sistema at patakaran ang dapat daan ng kabayanihan. Iyan po ang aking dalangin," he said.
Government officials' misuse of funds has been long embedded and practically accepted in the Philippine political system but a series of newspaper articles, like about how government funds were allegedly diverted into private hands, have stirred new anger outside of the usual protest groups.
"The Filipino people are now modern. Proof is the million people march that we can't be fooled by our leaders anymore," a protester calling himself Gundam08 tweeted from the rally site.
Tagle broke into tears recently when he met the media and commented on the pork barrel scandal.
"Inaanyayahan ko po ang lahat na ating tingnan, dinggin at mahalin ang mga dukha at mahihirap bilang tunay na kapwa at kapatid. Damahin natin ang tibok ng puso ng ating bayan," Tagle told the Luneta protesters. (I ask everyone to listen to the cries of the poor.)- with reports from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com