MANILA, Philippines – It’s not a holiday down under but Filipino students in Australia found time in between their classes to stage their own anti-pork barrel protests on Monday, August 26.
Wielding their picnic blankets, placards and flags, at least 30 students in Melbourne gathered in front of the State Library of Victoria at 11 am (Melbourne time) to join calls to scrap the pork barrel back home in the Philippines.
Students from the Australian National University (ANU) in Australia’s capital city, Canberra, also held a separate protest.
Much like how the Million People March started, Nina Araneta-Alana, one of the organizers, said Filipino students in Melbourne, who were mostly completing their post-graduate degrees, organized themselves online.
They decided to invite people to the rally over the weekend when they gathered for lunch to carry out solicitations for Filipinos affected by the southwest monsoon and tropical storm Maring.
“We intend to be vigilant and closely follow the developments in the country,” Alana said. “Hopefully, this kind of mass protest will reach our government and real changes will be made soon.”
In Canberra, ANU students also met for a picnic-cum-protest on campus.
At least 17 students participated, each holding a placard with one message: Abolish pork barrel.
Calls to scrap the Priority Development Assitance Fund of lawmakers intensified after exposes on the multi-million pork barrel scam operated by Janet Lim-Napoles through a conglomerate of dubious nongovernment organizations.
According to a recent Commission on Audit report, at least P6.1 billion worth of lawmakers’ funds were channeled to fake NGOs from 2007 to 2009.
Days before the scheduled protests, President Benigno Aquino III announced he was abolishing PDAF and installing a new scheme for lawmakers’ funds. – Rappler.com