Palace to hold dialogue with protesters
Malacañang says it is also encouraging the public to closely monitor the budget deliberations in Congress

PRAYERS: Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle joins protesters in Luneta. EPA/Dennis Sabangan

MANILA, Philippines – Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda is arranging a dialogue between Budget Secretary Florencio Abad and some of those who joined the #MillionPeopleMarch on Monday, August 26, Malacanang announced. 

Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a press briefing Tuesday, August 27, that the dialogue will be held soon. 

She maintained that the Aquino government is on the side of the Luneta protesters in their campaign against corruption.

Valte said they’re aware of the protest rallies that were also held outside Metro Manila last Monday. “As a consequence of what happened (Monday), many have been reaching out to some government officials,” Valte said.

READ: #ScrapPork rallies in 23 cities

On Friday, August 23, President Benigno Aquino III  said it was time to abolish the Priority Development Assistance Fund, or pork barrel, of lawmakers. 

Aquino said the pork barrel system will undergo a major overhaul, which he said will prevent public funds from going toward shady, questionable transactions. He said there will be a limited menu that will be allowed government funding, and project details will be required before funds are released.

Aquino said budget insertions will be stopped, and instead lawmakers should propose the projects upfront and should be approved. These projects, he said, will be included as line items in the budget.

On Tuesday, Valte said 15 senators support the abolition of pork barrel but that the Palace is not aware of how many members of the House of Representatives share the same position.

Asked about the possibility that the House will stall on this issue, Valte said: “We are ready to do the work for what is necessary.”

Valte said the government is also encouraging the public to monitor the budget deliberations in Congress. –

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